Not that I would have anticipated any different but I’ve finally seen Wes Anderson’s newest feature and I adore it. Moonrise Kingdom is the story of two 12 year olds who fall in love and run away together; plus some other stuff happens.
As usual, Anderson features an all-star cast complete with the familiar faces (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman) and some fan favourites (Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton). However, despite the amazing ensemble cast, it was lead Jared Gilman as Sam Shakusky who stole my heart. The awkwardness over-floweth and it couldn’t be more up my alley. While in terms of obscure it’s not off the map, it does warrant a certain standard for type of viewer – jovial, nostalgic, offbeat, creative… If you fit into any of these categories, enjoy!
Wes Anderson: Auteur
I know – films are a collaborative effort and so cannot be attributed to one source. But come on! How can one look at a Wes Anderson film and not instinctively know it’s his? He is one of the few directors in Hollywood who represents a signature of truly individualized work. And his latest, Moonrise Kingdom, does not disappoint.
The film, which takes place in 1965, is full of subtle references to the era. It would be interesting to take an inventory of the set just to see the work put into creating such a natural mise-en-scene, from the commissioning of fictitious novel covers to portraying the realistic methods of passing time (listening to records, reading, you know, things people used to do).
As for visuals, I first noticed Anderson’s interesting use of colour (not to mention his effective use of symmetry) in 2004′s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. His incorporation of primary colours, while seemingly simplistic, offers such a visual contrast his films could be filmed in B&W and still have the same deep effect. Moonrise Kingdom does just that – notably off the top with the introduction of narrator Bob Balaban who dons a crimson red duffle coat and a hunter green toque – a winning combination of Paddington Bear and Jacques Cousteau (perhaps another reference to The Life Aquatic?).
Interestingly, if you pay close attention, there are characteristic scenes that Anderson tends to include in his films: the slow-motion group walk set to the folksy score, the dolly shots that track between sets and the unique POV shots that almost confuse the viewer. However, despite the acknowledgement that these are staple, I am fully drawn to these scenes which might explain why I have noticed the repetition.
I tend to attribute this draw to his eclectic use of music. For Moonrise, Anderson used works by Benjamin Britten particularly to create a childlike nostalgia. And while the music made light of the couple’s situations, their romance and encounters are anything but childish.
Anderson is no stranger to good cinematography but he also demonstrates his understanding of human nature and tells stories that complement this. His construction of the family, while dysfunctional and bizarre, accurately portrays reality and the nature of relationships.
I could go on discussing themes and symbols, comparing his works, but I think the best way to understand Wes Anderson’s mind is to see it at work.
*Image courtesy of austinist.com