Looking at WNY’s visual art, theater, music, and dance scenes.
Jun 22, 2012
08:25 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom
Films opening this weekend in Buffalo:
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, McKinley Mall, Flix Dipsons; Transit, Elmwood, Galleria, Hollywood Regals; Transit Drive-In
Brave - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Transit, Elmwood, Galleria, Hollywood, Quaker Regals; Transit Drive-In
Moonrise Kingdom - Amherst, Eastern Hills Dipsons
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Amherst, Flix Dipson; Transit, Elmwood, Galleria, Hollywood, Quaker Regals
Opening this weekend in Toronto:
A poignant, Indian drama set to the backdrop of Ahmedabad's famous annual kite festival. Patang - click for theatre listings - My Review - My Interview with Director Prashant Bhargava
Five years removed from his last foray into live action filmmaking—although Fantastic Mr. Fox felt very close to his sensibilities—writer/director Wes Anderson returns with what could be his most storybook piece yet. Moonrise Kingdom fits firmly into the auteur's world of meticulously detailed constructions and manufactured quirk. Subtly surreal in its tale of lost innocence, the characters populating the small island of New Penzance exist on the fringes with few friends, little respect, and a whole lot of rebellion. Caught up in the turmoil of two "emotionally disturbed" children running away, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy's (Kara Hayward) ability to find true joy uncovers the deficiencies of adults resigned to never attaining it themselves.
Beginning with carefully composed pans throughout the dollhouse-like Bishop residence, we're introduced to Suzy, who invariably has a pair of binoculars firmly pressed to her eyes. Always looking beyond her house on Summer's End, she awaits a time when she may escape the pressures of adolescence and the looks of disappointment thrown her way by parents and teachers alike. The sterility of our slow transit through a cross-section of the home familiarizes us with the Bishops as well as the calculated tone to follow, right down to the narration by Bob Balaban.
Suzy and Sam run off into the wilderness, discovering they must leave the emotional prisons erected around them behind. But they aren't the only ones trapped in a world that doesn't understand them. Lawyers Walt (Bill Murray) and Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) are stuck in a loveless marriage; Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) has trouble reconciling his desire for love and companionship with a job placing him responsible for the safety of the whole island; and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) finds it hard to maintain a balance of leadership and friendship with the troop of boys he's been tasked to educate and watch over.
Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola put their characters on a collision course with destruction. The more the grown-ups delegate rules and threats, the more confident these youngsters are to want to break-free. Despite a plea for non-violence from Scout Master Ward, his scouts are deputized by Sharp to widen the search. A militaristic approach is adopted, and the scouts appear out for blood. Between their vicious pursuit and the runaways' relationship pushing way beyond the constraints their age should generally allow, all innocence is lost as each gets embroiled in a darkly humorous manhunt uncomfortably juxtaposed against the stylistic whimsy.
Despite the hardships of youth, Sam and Suzy will do anything to be together—two kindred spirits with nothing of worth besides each other. Authentic performances by both, Hayward and Gilman's calm composure in their search for autonomy helps project a maturity all but absent from the emotionally stunted actions of those looking to tear them apart. The love between these prepubescent youths gradually awakens the degenerating populace of parental figures from the stagnancy of ignoring problems in hopes they'll go away.
Everything you love (or hate) about Anderson is included—perhaps even exponentially increased to their most hyper-real—so definitely don't think this film will change your mind as far as the auteur's oeuvre is concerned. But for those of you who smile in response to his unique sensibilities, you'll enjoy this newest foray into the emotional psyches of damaged souls.
Moonrise Kingdom 8/10 | ★ ★ ★
 (l to r.) Kara Hayward as Suzy, Jared Gilman as Sam, and Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, a Focus Features release. Credit: Niko Tavernise
 (l to r.) Bill Murray as Mr. Bishop, Frances McDormand as Mrs. Bishop, Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward, and Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Focus Features