I thought Life Aquatic was all over the place both tonally and storywise, and I don't like the mean-spiritedness of it. Sometimes it almost reminds me of Jody Hill in how it seems to find horrible characters being pointlessly horrible as something funny in itself. I think it's kind of shambolic and sloppily written. Also it does one of my least favourite Wes things (which he didn't do in Moonrise) which is to put a song that's already emotional over a sequence that is shooting for the same emotions, like he needs it to do the heavy lifting. I didn't buy into that 'cathartic' fish ending at all, but hey throw a sweeping Sigur Ros song over the top and that'll do the trick! It really soured me on him for the longest time.
Moonrise Kingdom Thread - Page 2
You're wrong to feel that way Paul and here's why. Sigur Ros on the "I wonder if it remembers me scene" is nothing short of tremendous. Now do you understand?
The difference between Jody Hill's characters (who I also enjoy quite a bit) and Zissou is that Jody's characters are assholes at heart while Zissou is good at heart but acting like an asshole because he's lost and in pain and vulnerable. Zissou is never pointlessly horrible. The point is that he's hurting and because of that he sometimes makes rash and/or selfish decisions. That's his key flaw. Like Han Solo's selfishness or Dirk Diggler's immaturity or ET's racism.
To me Life Aquatic is completely consistent in tone throughout but the story is somewhat shambolic. That's because it follows a man who, because of what he's lost and how he's become lost, has become a shambles. It's not that he's aimless, it's that he's struggling to find the way to achieve his aim against the various forces arrayed against him (at least half of which are within him). If that doesn't float your Belafonte then you're wrong, but I'll still love you because I have a large and mighty heart and I allow you to be wrong and yet still remain safe within it. That's the secret of my greatness.
Meanwhile, in Moonrise Kingdom thread related comments, how did y'all find the use of the dorky guy + cute girl thing? A little while ago in the Batman thread we went nuts on wish-fulfillment stuff and this was a classic case of it. Would you have felt as much affection for the film if Suzy was as (conventionally) unattractive as our boy Sam?
I was just getting my head wrapped around people disliking Life Aquatic, and now someone has to go citing "Staraflur" as the reason why? YOU ARE KILLING MY BRAIN PAUL C WHY DO YOU HATE BEAUTY OOOOOHGGHGHHAAAAAAAAAAYAAAAWHYYYYYY
I understand the "the story is a shambles because Steve's life is a shambles" argument, but to me it doesn't justify the film feeling like a gallimaufry of ennui. Even then, that's not my biggest problem with the film-- I don't mind a good old fashioned hodgepodge when it's properly emotional-- but the stylization is. Rather, the over-stylization. Like I said before, the times I run into trouble with Anderson are the times when his sensibilities as an artist take control and overwhelm the substantive elements of the picture. In the case of The Life Aquatic, aesthetic dominated all of the film's character and narrative-oriented elements, and while they break through every now and again the result left me lukewarm.
I certainly don't hate it, but it doesn't rank among his best for me.
One thing I'm curious about though. I didn't have a problem about it at all, but the friends I went with were very, very uncomfortable during the sexual exploration scene between the kids. Like visibly squirming in their seats uncomfortable. I thought it was an honest and very tame way that we've all experimented when we've come of age. And it was cute, but what do I know? Anyone else have these feelings?
I think it was kind of a slap to the face to the MPAA - like here's 12 year olds getting over the shirt second base, but we're gonna cut out the violence. By the time I was 12 I had had plenty of second base and french kissing and had spilled and drawn lots of blood fistfighting with various boys in the woods ... if someone had made a documentary about it, it would look a lot like "Moonrise Kingdom". I don't really see what the big deal is.
Also, plenty of 12 year olds have full blown sex. Make a documentary about that, it would look a lot like something that would put you in jail! I'm just saying: the true life quality of those bits doesn't have much to do with why it makes some people uncomfortable. Can't say I was terribly bothered myself, but at the same time knowing that it was a forty-something man orchestrating them, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to that discomfort.
Ug, what I'm getting at is that it's totally cool that 10 year old John Connor tags along as Terminator shoots people in the kneecaps or that kids beat the shit out of each other in "Karate Kid" or "My Bodyguard" and everybody gets all in a bother when 12 year olds do some actual PG-13 stuff that isn't violent. Developing relationships during your teen years or even when you're 12 is not icky or wrong, it's a normal part of developing feelings and social skills that are part of being an adult. Anyone with half a fucking brain could fast forward or go to the bathroom if they see something they don't like in this movie. The implied sexuality was much more disturbing and graphic in "Rushmore" than anything shown onscreen in this movie, and if people can't handle it, then Wes Anderson might not be their guy.
Watched this on blu last night.
Loved it. Absolutely LOVED it. The cinematography was gorgeous, script was phenomenal, and the actors were just terrific. So many great things about it, but I thought what was really amazing is somehow making Bruce Willis look old - worn down, not strong, not ready to blast into action. Just a not-so-sharp, aging guy out on a New England island, seeing his life ebb away.
Both lead kids were cast superbly, but I thought Sam stole the show.
And I was completely fine with the estuary second base scene; as someone who was a very awkward 12 year 30-something years ago, it felt very true to life. It even brought back my memory of the first time I "French kissed" - how novel and odd and enervating it was.
Fantastic movie - definitely one of the best of the year.
But it's a 40-year-old man orchestrating them in the spirit of telling an honest, sweet story rather than in the spirit of lasciviousness. People who get uncomfortable over this sort of thing are the same assholes who complain that they can see David's cock. Should we be validating people like that?
As to the film: I'm still comfortably convinced that the opening credits here are among the best moments of cinema I've seen all year. Just wonderful. So much so that I actually rewound to their start to watch them from the beginning, twice.
Exactly. And the entire tone of the movie supports this reading. If I was uncomfortable, it had to do with remembering my own fumbling, awkward attempts at similar antics at a similar age. Anderson pulled off this scene beautifully and bravely.
If the rest of the film peddled in any kind of lechery, I could see viewers being discomfited the underwear-dancing scene on the beach. I could. But Moonrise Kingdom is a sweet, gentle, earnest movie, and it never for a moment delves into anything that's even remotely that insalubrious. This is a film that's structured around an examination of intimate relationships, from Sam and Suzy's young love to Suzy's parents' marriage to Bruce Willis' lovelorn affections for Suzy's mother and so on and so forth. It's a movie about romantic love. By extension, that moment on the beach is also about romantic love.
I get that it's about kids and people have their hang-ups about kids and sexuality, but there's nothing unwholesome about the intention of the man behind the camera.
In the "catching up on 2012 movies I missed" stage now (next up: Haywire and The Grey on Netflix Instant!), and just watched this. Loooooved it. I'm kind of with some of the Wes Anderson detractors here: a lot of his films have just left me cold. Mostly because the characters tend to not just be self-absorbed assholes, but uninteresting self-absorbed assholes. The ones I flat-out adore are this and Fantastic Mr. Fox, mostly because he actually calms the hell down with the misanthropy. The characters in these two films are flawed, certainly, but there's still a certain likability and humanity to them (yes, I realize the irony in saying that about the stop-motion animals). Laundry list!:
-The one touch I could have done without was seeing the dog's corpse. If you have the dog die, fine, but don't actually show it. That's just one step too far for me.
-While this is certainly the most engaged Bruce Willis has been in a while (can't wait to see him in Looper), how about Edward Norton? I thought he was a scream here, especially since he's so dead-serious about Scouting. The kids are all great from top to bottom.
-I choose to feel optimistic about the ending. Maybe they'll drift apart, maybe they won't. But they'll always have Paris-er, Moonrise Kingdom. (Got my wires crossed for a minute there)
-My favorite background detail: somehow the motorcycle ends up in the damn TREE after the big offscreen fight with Sam's troop.
-Are those real books Suzy is reading, or did they make them for the movie?
-I too love how Tilda Swinton's character is never called anything other than "Social Services". I loved Tilda already, but who knew she could be so funny on top of everything else?
I'm trying to figure out what the deal is with Balaban's narrator. He seems about the right age to be speaking from the perspective of Shakusky in the present day, seems to be dabbling in some sort of geo/meteorological studies that would appeal to the scout, and talk in the same clipped, matter-of-fact tones. But then, a lot of Anderson boy/men do that and there's the bit where he interacts directly with the adult characters.
Sadly they're not real. I know because I got a total "I'm gonna read all of these!" impulse when I saw the film, and then found this:
It's not like it is some sort of big puzzle to be solved (there's definitely something non-literal about the way the narrator tells the camera directly about what's going to happen and how he interacts with the characters in-scene), but on a second viewing I just started thinking "what is the deal with this guy?" The movie could be made without him easily. He appears to be an expert on the island who is interested in nature. It almost fits, except for the scene that doesn't fit with the rest no matter how you slice it.
Yeah I loved this a ton.
I’m an unabashed Anderson fan. Love everything he’s done from RUSHMORE to FANTASTIC MR. FOX. He’s a director who has never disappointed me and even the film I liked least by him (DARJEELING) easily found its way into my top ten for that year. However amongst my friends Anderson was a hack and as such I found myself very much alone in my appreciation of his work. As such when those same friends came back from MOONRISE KINGDOM with nothing but praise I was concerned. You see I liked the stuff that Anderson was criticised for. I loved his aesthetic, I loved how constructed his worlds were, I loved how Anderson framed things. I even, due to my own circumstances, found myself continually moved by Anderson’s continued exploration of father figures as a central theme of his work. But these were all things that my friends criticised and as such I was expecting to find a more compromised film from Anderson. As such I held off on watching the film for a long, long time.
When I actually watched the film I was delighted to find it was just as much in Anderson’s wheelhouse as his other movie. I think maybe having the film be specifically a period piece and be specifically about children allowed people to accept Anderson’s usual style. I will admit the focusing on two kids, both embarking on their first ever romance, makes Anderson’s picturebook style feel a lot more natural than it normally would. It could also be that after the relative break that FANTASTIC MR. FOX presented they were just ready to accept Anderson’s style. It also helps that Suzy and Sam are probably some of the most likeable lead characters that Anderson has ever had. Still the outsiders, still hopelessly self absorbed, but their age and the performances really help to get away the inherent unpleasantness that lurks within most of Anderson’s characters.
They’re damaged, but salvageable. In many ways Suzy and Sam is like looking at the beginnings of some of Anderson’s older characters, watching the pivotal moment that would shift them into people like the grown up Tenenbaums, Zissou, or the brothers on the Darjeeling Limited. Whilst there’s an ambiguity to the end of the film, it seems to represent a path that leads to earlier happiness than most Anderson characters get. This is probably my second favourite Anderson film, just behind THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, and whilst that will probably change once immediacy has worn off I was overjoyed watching it. It’s such an amazingly put together movie, with a rhythm and energy that Anderson hadn’t had since THE LIFE AQUATIC and an extended cast that could go toe to toe with the extended Tenebaum family. There are so many great little roles and characters in the film that it’s really hard to single some out, although it is nice seeing Ed Norton being playful with a role. He’s so great with lighter stuff, but so focused on more serious work, that I always forget how great a comedic touch he has.
It’s also nice seeing Bruce Willis properly engaged by a material, even if he does play a little broadly and thus remind me uncomfortably of BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. But the heart of the film is the two kids and they benefit from a focus that, for Anderson at least, is almost razor sharp. It’s such a perfect essaying of young love and of the period that I’d assume it was drawn from their own experiences if it wasn’t for the fact the 1965 setting dates it about half a decade before either Anderson or his co-writer Roman Coppolla were born.
There's such a great attention to detail to such odd little touches, like the overly elaborate Noah's Ark production, that it feels way more lived in than a fictional setting should. But that's the heart of Anderson I feel, his tics and offbeat choices actually granting a sense of verisimilitude to events that are inherently ridiculous.
So yeah, loved this. And I even loved the odd narrator guy, particularly his breathlessly dramatic which introduces the storm that rocks the third act of the film. It’s an offbeat choice but I really, really, loved it.
They’re damaged, but salvageable. In many ways Suzy and Sam is like looking at the beginnings of some of Anderson’s older characters, watching the pivotal moment that would shift them into people like the grown up Tenenbaums, Zissou, or the brothers on the Darjeeling Limited.
I had the same thought. Moonrise Kingdom is basically a road map detailing how you get to young love and innocence to Royal Tenenbaum inflicting all kinds of emotional anguish on his children (and stepchild). That's why I'm inclined to consider it his most important-- not "best", per se, though I am willing to argue that it's his masterwork-- film to date; the central conceit of the entire plot may well inform the behavior of many of Anderson's other characters and the timbre of his other stories. I feel like he's practically inviting us to look back in retrospect at the rest of his work. Well said.
And I dug the narrator too. He's not necessary per se but he's the sort of odd, eccentric detail I expect from Anderson's films. His presence feels appropriate just in light of the storybook quality of the narrative, but I won't say that the film would have failed without him.
Just watched it, loved it.
Not much to add to the thread except:
Loved How Ed Norton's character deflates when Sam tells him he really doesn't want to be a Scout anymore. Like his purpose in life has been destroyed. Also like how he hooks up with the island's phone Operator at the end.
When Capt Sharp is on the phone with Social Services and asks her if Sam will be sent to an Orphanage, she says "yes" and the camera cuts to a newspaper with a barracks like room filled with (one assumes) orphans eating gruel while the sound of marching plays on the soundtrack. Yes I did laugh for at least a minute on that one.
So much to love, including Bruce Willis really acting, Ed Norton, the Kids, Murray the K, Tilda, Francis McDormand, the sleazy Camp guy who "marries' the kids, and most of all the way the Scout Troop finally rallies to help the young lovers.
Easily my best of 2012.
At some point during the very busy end of the film, I began to consider that Anderson had tied one of his precisely arranged, hermetically-sealed universes to the story in such a way that the film as a whole resembled a giant Rube Goldberg machine. Which seems like the perfect expression of his style. It also means the ending is almost certainly less hopeful, and more bittersweet... but Anderson's never made a movie that wasn't, so why start now?
Just saw this last night (don't judge me!).
At first, it seemed so twee and precious that I actually thought about watching something else. But it grew, and grew, and grew on me. In the end, it's one of my favorite Anderson films.