Monday, July 2, 2012

Kingdom of Grain

Sometimes you just gotta make it for yourself. Sometimes, darling, you just need someone else.
- Hellhole Ratrace by Girls

I tried to write a proper review of MOONRISE KINGDOM last week but kept running into a blank wall and nothing interesting came from it. Sometimes writing flows effortlessly, other times it plods, kicking and screaming.

Brandon, I obviously dig your review and have many similar positive feelings towards the film. I definitely don't love it as much as you do, but that's splitting hairs. I like it a lot and that is all that matters.

MOONRISE KINGDOM is easily one of Wes Anderson's best films. I don't know where it ranks exactly according to his others, but I think it's one of his most fully realized visions of beauty, humor, and personal longing. It's certainly his best looking film. Anderson's meticulous attention to framing, colors, and period details is something truly remarkable to behold. With all the copious tracking shots and visual idiosyncrasies, he seems to have finally mastered his sense of inner space rendered photographically. Visually, this film feels very much like an artist expressed outwardly in his most quintessential form.

I think the thing that makes the film really strong though, is its highly relatable themes about wanting contact with other human beings. At the emotional crux of the film, we have a group of lonely people desperately seeking connection and understanding. That wounded desire for human relation is what really drives the story forward. The love story between the kids is fine and all that, but what won me over was the sense that friendship trumped divisiveness in the end. One of my favorite scenes in the film is the moment when Sam's fellow scouts learn the error of their hostile ways and decide to embrace him as a friend and comrade. It's a moment to smile and be thankful for. There are several other moments in the film where characters try their best to step forward and reach out a helping hand to others like this (Willis and Norton's characters have their moments, in particular). Obviously, none of the characters seem perfect or wholly altruistic–just weird and potentially very sad people trying to do what they think is good and right under the circumstances.

Even if none of it is totally communal or pure, as you say Brandon, I think there is an earnest desire and attempt for community in the film. I think that desire and that striving for community and connection is what's commendable in the film, emotionally. Strip away all the quirk and cutesy-ness in Sam and Suzy's union and you have a highly vulnerable pair of outsiders taking steps in the dark towards the only thing that makes sense to them–each other. For anyone who has ever felt alone or like a loner, I think their union is at least a positive representation of what friendship and even family can give us if we need it. That's why I have the quote from the song above: sometimes you just need yourself, and other times its important to know when you need someone else. To me, this film is about those crucial points when you just need others. Even if I'm an unbelievable hermit who mostly dislikes being around people, there is still an idealist or romantic in me who recognizes the value of such fellowship between kindred spirits. Even I need other people sometimes. Having a film in this modern era that recognizes that desire for connection is truly something to be grateful for, your hang-ups over the quirk and dry humor be damned.

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