1. Moonrise Kingdom
2. Wes Anderson's filmography
We'll explore the first then what the first impacts the second.
Director: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson, Little Coppola
Move Maker: Jared Gilman
Packs interesting things: Kara Hayward
Coolest name: Bob Balaban
Hahahahah: Edward Norton
Broken: Bruce Willis
Had a few lines: Bill Murray
Cool bike: Frances McDormand
Doesn't look terrifying in this movie, but is, still, terrifying: Tilda Swinton
Harvey Keitel: Harvey Keitel
Part of the weirdest casted show of all time, Bored to Death: Jason Schwartzman
What It's Good For:
-Bill Murray shirtless
-best use of a megaphone in a movie
-making me wish I had a pair of lefty scissors instead of always having to use righty scissors (not to stab people, but for general cutting purposes)
-use of music
-insanely Anderson-y, and some people don't like that
-two 12 year olds falling in love could put some people off
-bigger names don't do much
We will focus on four characters from Moonrise Kingdom.
1. Captain Sharp (Willis)
2. Laura Bishop (McDormand)
3. Sam (the main character kid)
4. and Suzy (the main character girl)
And specifically two moments:
1. Laura and Sharp break-up
2. Sharp's speech to Sam
Bear with me. I don't have access to a script. Nor do I have a bootleg copy to watch (thanks for nothing, internet).
Midway through the movie, Suzy's mom, Laura, has one of her late-night rendezvous with Captain Sharp. Laura informs Sharp she can't keep seeing him. Obviously, they've been having some sort of affair. Sharp understands. The reason Laura cites for the termination isn't that she loves her husband or doesn't love Sharp, but that she needs to do better for her family (she says later to her husband, "We're all they've got," referring to their kids). What we're witnessing is Laura choosing responsibility over passion. She may care more about Sharp than her husband, but she's a mother and a wife, and she loves her family enough to choose them and her roles in their nucleus over Sharp. We have no idea how long Sharp and Laura have known one another. How long their affair has been going on. But I think we can assume she was married to Walt (Murray) before she met Sharp. Even if they had known each other before Laura married Walt, Laura married Walt and not Sharp. And, either way, it's only at this point, later in life, they have been able to be together. Covertly, for short moments. Not even belonging to one another. Wanting to, maybe, but never taking that step. Then, even the small reality they created and shared together is shattered.
Keep all this in mind.
When Sharp houses Sam for the evening, they're at the dinner table, eating. Sharp pours Sam a beer. He then delivers a speech about mistakes. "It's been proven by history, all mankind makes mistakes." He then says it's the job of adults to make sure kids don't make the same mistakes, that kids do better than the adults did. A notion that is contrasted by the fact Sharp has just poured Sam a glass of beer (haha), but really he does that because, one, he knows Sam is hurting, and, two, Sharp has acknowledged Sam is smarted than he is. Why not give him alcohol?
What's crucial here isn't the beer, but the idea of the future generation learning from the older generation. This improving upon previous errors. If I see a guy pick up a rattlesnake and it bites him and kills him, I would, hopefully, have learned picking up rattlesnakes is a dangerous endeavor.
What do we see happen in the movie?
Sam and Suzy end up married and together. This is very nice, when viewed superficially as "they fought to be together, and now they get to be together, nice!". When we dig deeper into the structure of the story, we see how redemptive this is.
Who is Suzy Bishop? Laura Bishop's daughter.
Who is Sam Shakusky? An orphan.
But when the movie is over, who is Sam Shakusky? Captain Sharp's son.
Do you see what I'm getting at?
If you want it made even more fucking obvious: at the end of the movie, SAM IS WEARING SHARP'S UNIFORM.
So Sharp and Laura don't get to be together, if we're to believe after Laura's speech she's remained faithful to her husband. It's not like they made specific mistakes that kept them apart. Like Sharp farted on their first date. It's just that Laura's and Sharp's lives worked out in such a way they won't end up together.
But here we have their heirs, Suzy and Sam. And Suzy and Sam ARE together. They fight to be together. They do stupid fucking shit to be together. They send an entire island population into utter chaos to be together. Why? Because they learned from their elders.
Sam learned from his parents: people die.
Suzy learned from her parents: life can be miserable.
So both are doing their best to be happy. Whatever the cost. One because he knows life is fragile. The other because she's seen what happens when you settle for anything other than happiness.
Despite Sam and Suzy WANTING to be together, they can't be together until Sharp and Laura make it happen. Sharp didn't have to adopt Sam. And Laura didn't have to help Sharp adopt Sam (by citing crucial legal jargon). It's the effort of the older generation that allows the younger generation to have what they want.
Maybe Laura and Sharp don't have the lives they want. They at least have the redemption of knowing they've made it possible for their heirs to be happier than they ever were.
Which brings us to Wes Anderson.
I usually dislike the things Christopher Orr (The Atlantic) says, but I think he hit in the face: "[Moonrise Kingdom] is Anderson's best live-action feature—his best feature, period—since Rushmore, in part because, like that film, it takes as its primary subject matter odd, precocious children, rather than the damaged and dissatisfied adults they will one day become."
Orr didn't hit the nail on the head because I think the "odd, precocious" kid of Rushmore is pretty dissatisfied for a lot of the film. But he is right about Moonrise.
If you've watched the films Wes Anderson is known for--Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited--you can sum up all of them with one word: frustration.
(we're not counting Mr. Fox because it's based on a Dahl story, where as the rest are original screenplays).
With the later three, Royal-Aquatic-Limited, you can add the word: families. So "frustrated families".
I think all of Anderson's films are shot well, are interesting, are funny, but, they are, to me, all repetitive. Frustration and Bitterness ensue, escalate, then there's catharsis. All the while there are dollops of quirkiness.
I get tired of watching bitter people find ways of letting go.
And if you notice, in Moonrise we still have Anderson tropes. The Bitter/Frustrated Family Nucleus: the Bishops. We have the Unfulfilled Bachelor: Sharp. And we have Blossoming Love.
But these things are tempered by Sam and Suzy. The kids are so fucking sure of themselves. When they're together, they are not bitter or frustrated. They are not unfulfilled. They are not nervous, touch-and-go lovers. They're un-fucking-wavering. Wes Anderson characters usually exist in an emotional tempest. It's fitting then that in Moonrise we have a real storm, a giant storm, and our young lovers weather it, physically, emotionally, and metaphorically.
Oh, and Scout Master Randy Ward. He is sort of one-dimensional. But damnit does he mean well. And want to do good. He cares. And he's free of baggage. We get a bit of drama and history with every other character, and we see them demonstrate spikes of emotion. Not so with Ward. No emotional spikes. And in terms of history, Ward says he's a math teacher, but then, seconds after proclaiming himself as such, he eradicates that identity by saying he's a Scout Master. He's simple, dopey, and works hard. He's a character that's unburdened by his past and the present. And to me this is totally a new thing for Anderson, who is obsessed with giving a character baggage (Rushmore, Tenenbaums) or exploring pre-existing baggage (Tenenbaums, Zissou, Limited).
Which means Moonrise is a counter-punch to Anderson's previous films. I like to think it's a knowing one. That Anderson is enough of an artist to have analyzed his previous worked, recognized the repeated motifs, and made the effort to craft a story that brought in fresh air. In other words: that the previous generation of movies has helped the latest movie "correct course" and cease walking the same circle of Frustration and Bitterness.
Or else this was an unconscious action. That Anderson wasn't aware he's been repeating himself, but just so happened, thanks to whatever influences, happened to craft something this self-reflective.
I guess we'll have an answer with his next film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Will Hotel continue the deviation onto a new artistic course Moonrise began, or will Anderson's work return to its derivative rut?
Did I Like It:
Hell Yeah. It's my favorite Wes Anderson film. There's not as much Bill Murray as Zissou, but...I like the contrast Suzy and Sam give us. Imagine if Seinfeld starred four Kramers. That'd be funny for a while. But how long could that really be engaging? Or imagine if Seinfeld didn't have a single Kramer. If it was just Jerry, George, and Elaine. Kramer brings a balance. Two Kramers tips that balance.
What we're really talking about are instruments. Each character is an instrument. What a good story does is assemble a band. And then the band plays together and creates a fucking awesome song (the song being the plot of the movie). Or a really shitty song. The key is to find a good combination of plight + emotion. What a character is going through and how they're reacting. 21 Jump Street had good things happening to Jonah Hill and not as good things happening to Channing Tatum. Similar situations, different outcomes and responses. To me, most Wes Anderson films don't vary enough. In other words, the characters, or if we're referring to them as instruments: the drums, bass, lead, trumpet, saxophone, and shofar are all playing the same series of notes. Rather than playing off of each other and creating an environment of sound, there's this...chanting. His movies aren't one note. But they're sort of...like one refrain played over and over and over again. The effect, for me, is more trance than anything.
You may not agree. But that's how I view Anderson films. So having characters like Suzy and Sam who are counter-intuitive to most Anderson characters was, for me, very refreshing. Plus, within the realm of the film, they're different than anyone else. I think this contrast makes them fascinating. Beyond the fascination derived by their quirks.
There is the dumb logic gap of: all the boyscouts are chasing Sam, they're right behind him. Then they're all the sudden way behind him, and Sam climbs whatever and gets struck by lightning, as his pursuers are closing in. We then see people rush to Sam's side. At first, like me, you probably thought it was the boyscouts who had been chasing Sam. It's not. It's Sam's friends and Suzy. Where the fuck did they come from? And what happened to the other boyscouts? Sam stands and the group runs off?
The shots were beautiful.
For some reason the movie reminds of like...a happy remake of Red Desert.
% Character / % Actor's personality
-Movies involving summer camps: Heavyweights; Ernest Goest to Camp; Meatballs; Friday the 13th
-Movies involving islands: The Island; Shutter Island; Cast Away; The Beach; Forgetting Sarah Marshall
-Movies involving storms: The Perfect Storm; Back to the Future; Twister; The Day After Tomorrow
-Movies involving runaway love: Badlands; Bonnie & Clyde; Natural Born Killers; Friends
-Movies where a minor aged girl has a bold part: Taxi Driver; Lolita; Hounddog; Kids; The New World;