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.

11 responses to “Moonrise Kingdom

  1. This is an excellent post, Bill! I love Wes Anderson, particularly ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’. I think that his films have really revitalised Bill Murray’s acting career! I shall have to go and see this, thanks for the recommendation. I am soon moving back to Glasgow, Scotland from a small island. I am really looking forward to being able to go back to the GFT – Glasgow Film Theatre – that’s where lots of Arthouse films are shown. They show a lot of the classics too – for instance I’ve seen ‘Psycho’ and ‘Sunset Boulevard’ there, it’s brilliant. Totally different atmosphere, far more civilised (that sounds terrible, eh?!) and retro. A great time out! 🙂

    I hope you enjoyed yourself – can’t wait to see this film; although, I would have been very happy to rewatch ‘The Graduate’ (Again!) on the big screen! 🙂

  2. I love the Angelika and the Magnolia, and most films I actually leave home to see are shown at one of those two places. I rarely see movies that are shown at the cineplexes. I’ve never bought food at the Angelika’s little restaurant. Have bought a hot dog, though, and it was really good. Hebrew National!

    Haven’t been to the Inwood in years, though it’s the place where I saw some real classics.

    Moonrise Kingdom is one of the ones on “my list.”

    • The Angelika restaurant seems to have morphed into more of a coffee shop – though I think they have sandwiches.

      The movie theater I miss is the old version of the Granada, when it was a repertory theater – a double feature of classic films that would change every night. They would print out a big poster each monty with the lists of the movies – that was a big deal to me and I’d sit there with a highlighter marking the ones I needed to see.

      When I first moved to Dallas in the ’80’s I lived in back of that place, on purpose, so I could see as many old films as possible. In the three years or so it was like that I was able to take in hundreds of vintage and foreign films. It was greatness.

  3. I saw Moonrise Kingdom at the Belcourt Theater, the art-house theater in Nashville. I wasn’t sure about it going in, but I thought it was great.

  4. I love the picture you paint of how movie going experiences should be, and unfortunately what the experiences have become. Ive been interested in seeing this film and i think im going to check it out soon because of this post! Thanks Ps fun fact I’m actually an acquaintance of Bill Murray!

  5. Takes one’s breath away to see good actors — this film is loaded with names, and here you get to see them acting — telling a story. So clearly a fantasy, and yet one at which a person might be caught saying “so true” at many junctures.

    But the kids! How did he get such performances from the kids? With a giant budget one can perhaps look at 10,000 kids to fine the perfect Hermione; did any of the kids hit a clunker note in “Moonrise Kingdom?”

    It’s probably one of those movies that you can keep picking up references, jokes, and more layers, with repeated viewings. The kids are probably perfect every time.

  6. Pingback: What I learned this week, January 18, 2013 | Bill Chance

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