Moonrise Kingdom

Suzy, dressed as a raven, in Moonrise Kingdom.

I very rarely get out to see an actual movie at an actual theatre any more. The biggest reason is that I hate going out to the suburban googleplex with everybody else and paying all that cash for an experience much worse than I can get at home on the HDTV.

One exception, though. Back in the day, back when I still had a life, I used to really enjoy going down to the Angelika on Mockingbird Lane. I would take the DART train down there on the weekend – sometimes not even knowing what I was going to see – and pick one of the offerings from the selection of art-house films. There is a little restaurant attached and sometimes I’d get pot stickers or something else simple to eat – make a leisurely afternoon of it.

There was none of the cattle-car feeling of the googleplex – none of the packs of loud, tittering teenagers, blaring lights and sounds of video games or awful garish food displays… I like the architecture of the Angelika – the open areas with little tables and chairs, the little stands with postcards and literature about the upcoming features – the classic old movie posters. It is a place designed to show a film, not corral huge herds of the faceless public into chutes and strip them of their cash.

There are now a whole set of theaters dedicated to art-house quality cinema in the Metroplex – the two Angelikas, The Magnolia, and the Inwood – to name a few. I love the Inwood especially, but it is a long difficult drive from where I live.

Often, when I look at the list of first run films at the googleplex I can’t find a single one I’m really interested in seeing. Today, when I thought of going down to the Angelika, it was tough to decide which one to see – there was Killer Joe – which looks good, but I wasn’t in the mood for NC-17 today… then there was Beasts of the Southern Wild, set in South Louisiana, but again, maybe too intense for a lazy early Sunday. They are showing a classic, The Graduate, and that would be good… but I’ve seen that film, maybe ten times already.

So I decided on the low-intensity alternative, Wes Anderson’s newest, Moonrise Kingdom. I have enjoyed almost all of his work (not a big fan of the animated film, that Mr. Fox thing) – though his highly mannered style can be a bit shrill at times.

I loved Moonrise Kingdom, by the way. The test for a work with a unique and personal style like Anderson’s is a simple one for me – do I care about his characters? Some of his work is so precious and so complex that the people at the center of the story are lost – and at the end you are left with an empty feeling. A lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Moonrise Kingdom is a simply story, however (which I will not discuss – no spoilers here) and the two main characters are sympathetic and easy to relate to. All the messy complexities of a Wes Anderson film are present, but these are played out by the large and familiar supporting cast, and don’t take away from the main conflict at the center.

Strip away all the Wes Anderson shiny trappings and odd eccentricities and it is simply a strange little love story.

When the film ended I thought, “Hey, that was better than I expected,” which is high praise, indeed.

Now I want to go back and see some of those others.