The Wife and I were in Binghamton, NY for the Olin family reunion, among other things, and we decided to stay at a downtown hotel called the Binghamton Riverfront; nice place. We discovered that there is a two-screen theater called Art Mission less than a half-mile away. It appears to be a refurbished fire or police station, but in fact, it used to be a city mission; thus, its name. There were fewer than 75 seats in the theater. I originally sat in the third row, but found it to be too close; row four was much more comfortable for me visually. The theater was showing the new film by Wes Anderson called Moonrise Kingdom, which was NOT playing at the local Regal or Loew’s.
My spouse wanted to see it because she liked the trailer, which she saw in Albany’s much larger art theater, the Spectrum. I was less interested, because I had only seen one Anderson film that I can recall, The Royal Tenenbaums, and I did not much relate to it. (No, I didn’t see Bottle Rocket or Rushmore or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.) And in the end, I really enjoyed the film, the Wife, not so much.
The movie is about two not especially likable children (newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman) who meet strange, and the pursuit of them by the police captain (Bruce Willis), the scoutmaster (Edward Norton), and the girl’s parents (Bill Murray, Frances McDormand). This takes up the first act, but then things change up. Harvey Keitel and especially Tilda Swinton have roles in the latter part of the film. The movie is really difficult to describe – without revealing too much – except to say that, despite all logic, one starts rooting for the couple, maybe because the adults in their world are so dysfunctional.
Interesting that almost all the analyses, positive (94% at this point) and negative, note that Anderson is doing Anderson again, except that, the good reviews say, THIS time, he’s infused them with some level of whimsy and humanity.
The use of color and art, giving the film a real 1965 look, was quite effective, especially the occasional segments of narration by Bob Balaban, which felt really authentic.
But what I appreciate almost as much is the music. If you grew up with Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts, you might have a bit of a flashback. Oddly, all the patrons left after the credits started rolling, which I thought was too bad, for it was a reprise of the music educational record that starts the film.