Featured: Top of Home Page

The Impeccably Cute Delightfulness of Stuff: 'Moonrise Kingdom'

I propose a souvenir shoppe, also called "Moonrise Kingdom", a kind of "pottery barn" filled with purchasable goods reproduced from the movie's sets, props and costumes.


Moonrise Kingdom

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton
Distributor: Universal
Release date: 2012-10-16

Moonrise Kingdom begins with a long take that scans the inside of a charming, seaside cottage. The shot begins aimed at a painting of just such a charming house and then swishes through the interior landing on the siblings who live there and some of their toys, a dollhouse, a record player, binoculars. The shot gives equal importance to the people and the props.

The space is just the type of enlarged dollhouse that Wes Anderson specializes in making cinematic. Remember the pan through the boat in The Life Aquatic or the delightful set pieces in The Fantastic Mr. Fox? Anderson shows the audience his fascination with the surface, with the impeccable charm of the everyday object -- only in his films these props become almost mystical as their quirk is raised to high levels of importance.

Moonrise Kingdom follows two 12-year-old runaways who abscond into the wilderness of New Penzance island, an exotically American locale. This proves the ideal landscape for the love affair between Suzy, an inhabitant of that large dollhouse, and Sam, a boy scout who left his pup tent in tip-top shape before he skedaddled. Like all movie paramours, they encounter obstacles, not only from the grown-ups, parents, scout masters, social services and cops who search them out, but also due to the stuff they lug along with them.

Like most tweens, they are impractical when it comes to packing. Suzy brings a suitcase full of hardcover novels and that record player. Sam is laden with the "bric-a-brac" of scouting, which may seem convenient, but when it really comes down to brass tacks, how useful are neckerchiefs and raccoon caps?

But that's just it, in an Anderson film, it's all about the impeccably cute delightfulness of all that stuff. The characters become weighed down within that cuteness. Bob Balaban, as the narrator, is also a lightly salted islander dressed adorably in a red coat, knit cap and fingerless gloves that will probably show up at J. Crew this winter. It's all in the details: Bruce Willis' white socks and black shoes, peacock eye shadow and fishhook earrings, the elaborate camping contraptions at the scout sites, Harvey Keitel's plaid scouting cape, the odd, but effective tilt of Tilda Swinton's hat with its nervous chin strap.

These quirky, twee little details are just as important as the plot and the performances.

I propose a souvenir shoppe, also called "Moonrise Kingdom", a kind of "pottery barn" filled with purchasable goods reproduced from the movie's sets, props and costumes. Shop for wallpaper, dishware, cosmetics, doo-dads, vintage board games, and of course, all those novels -- there must be someone out there who would be happy to write them. How about turquoise record players with that vintage look (perhaps with a hidden dock for iPods)? Also for sale: maps of New Penzance, scout uniforms as every day wear and camping paraphernalia (can be used for living room camp sites).

The new release on blu-ray seems much too modern a way to view this film. There should also be 16mm prints available to screen on "old" home movie projectors. Alas, 1965 is gone, but you can relive it as it never was in Moonrise Kingdom. Bonus features include enchanting but very short little docs narrated again by Bob Balaban in "Welcome to the Island of New Penzance", where he points to a droll map of the fictional island. Also included are "A Look Inside Moonrise Kingdom," an elaborate commercial, and "Set Tour with Bill Murray", which exists as described.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Music

Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.

Music

Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.

Music

'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Music

Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.

Music

Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.

Music

Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.