Moonrise Kingdom: For Those of us Who Have Always Wanted to See Bill Murray Throw his Shoe at Edward Norton

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A few days ago my good friend Sara asked if I wanted to see the movie Moonrise Kingdom. Due to my preoccupations of preparing to travel to Korea, I had never heard of the film. When I heard Edward Norton was in it, I didn’t need to know anymore. Edward Norton is my all time favorite actor except for Geoffery Rush. I have never seen him in a bad movie.

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This movie reminded me of why I love films, and why even though sometimes I feel inundated by Hollywood crap, every now and then, I can go to a theater and smile completely through a masterpiece. Moonrise Kingdom is an indie dark comedy directed by Wes Anderson. It is set on a New England Island in 1965. Two children, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) have disappeared. They had met the previous summer, and decided to run away together. Sam’s scout master Randy Ward (Edward Norton), a police officer (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) chase after them all over the island to retrieve them as a huge hurricane threatens in the distance.

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When I watch movies, I look for the story. Because of that, I don’t particularly enjoy most comedies, because usually, comedies sacrifice the story for the sake of humor. However, that does not happen in Moonrise Kingdom. The humor is subtle, dry, and ironic. The style and situations of the movie are funny rather than a few cheap jokes. Because of that, the story has no need to be sacrificed. I also just tend to prefer this humor. It’s clever and witty and more powerful. Moonrise Kingdom has moments in which it makes fun of itself in a subtle enough way that doesn’t clobber you over the head like Sasha Baron Cohen. In most conventional comedies, you see the movie once and then it’s no longer funny. I feel like I could watch this movie over and over and still find it hilarious.

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Edward Norton lived up to my expectations. He was just outrageous enough to be funny and yet also seem to be sincerely acting. And Bill Murray was a joy to watch. I think this has to be one of my favorite roles I’ve ever seen him in (except for Ghost Busters and Groundhog’s Day of course). I hope to always remember him only wearing pajama bottoms, carrying an ax and saying “I’m going to go chop a tree down,” in the middle of the night. And then I also must mention Bruce Willis. You might have read my earlier post on type casted actors (https://hereslookinatyousquid.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/the-top-ten-most-type-casted-actors-9-2/) in which I listed Bruce Willis as number one. Before seeing Moonrise Kingdom, I have just never really seen Bruce Willis in a movie and thought, “Wow, he’s such a good actor.” He seems to play the same character every time. But tonight he surprised me, which is something I never thought I would say. I will not claim he was the best actor ever in Moonrise Kingdom (Edward Norton always steals the show) but he was better than in any movie I have ever seen him in. I didn’t keep thinking “So why aren’t you in an action movie right now?”.

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But the actors I really need to talk about are the two leads, the star crossed lovers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. This is both actors’ first movie. I think Kristen Stuart should take some lessons from Hayward. And Jared Gilman also achieved capturing my heart. I have no idea how Anderson was able to find two actors who could work so well together and feed off each other’s energy while still being so young. They should get together and make a baby, because that baby would be the best actor ever.

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And everything else about Moonrise Kingdom just seemed so perfect, from the acting, to the soundtrack, and even the special effects.  So for once I don’t really have anything to complain about. Just listen to me: go see this movie! It is awesome. I haven’t seen a better movie in theaters all summer, or perhaps even all year. Unsurprisingly, I give this movie a perfect 10.

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An Education: Don’t Take the Banana, Jenny, Don’t Take the Banana

For my first movie critique, I thought I would assess the quality of a movie I watched just a few days ago, An Education. This British indie film was released in 2009 and received a significant amount of critical acclaim despite accusations of anti-Semitism (I guess director Lone Scherfig didn’t know that making a Jewish character a cradle-robbing conman is just not in vogue).

The film is set in a convincing 1960’s London (actually I don’t have much authority on that considering I’ve never been to London and I’m not, well, in my 50’s) where Jenny, a clever young woman, played to perfection by Carey Mulligan, is in her last year of primary school and dreams of going to Oxford when she falls head over heels for David (Peter Sarsgaard), a man twice her age. In her infatuation, Jenny drops out of school and abandons her dreams of Oxford to marry David, only to discover that he is already married (who didn’t see that coming, really?). Jenny has to pick up the pieces of her shattered life to get back on track and make it to Oxford.

Over all, I really enjoyed this movie. It is witty and sexy. My favorite part is when David makes Jenny actually have to say “I don’t want to lose my virginity to a fruit!” (Just to alleviate confusion, she means fruit in the literal sense). I don’t think such a combination of words has ever been uttered in the English language before. This movie is also appealing because of its feminist implications. It does more than just reaffirm the common female notion that men suck (come on, you know you do). An Education asserts a message of independence.

However, the great thing about this film is that it even transcends a feminist interpretation. Both the title and Jenny’s conflict expresses a very important question: what is the most important kind of education? Is it formal or life experience? The movie suggests that a person doesn’t have to choose between the two, and choosing actually is very limiting, as it was limiting to Jenny. She wasn’t happy just working hard at school, and of course dropping out of school doesn’t work out for her too much. It’s not until the end of the movie, when she’s in Oxford and meets a man (her age, thank God) who takes her to Paris that she finds true fulfillment.

Despite the movie’s great messages, it does have some flaws. I have two specific ones in mind. The first being that at the end of the movie, Carey Mulligan suddenly does a random voice over to explain the resolution of the film, a technique that annoys me to no end. If there is going to be a voice over in a movie, it better be in the beginning, or at least somewhere else. The second is not so nit-picky. When Jenny discovers that David is married and that she has nothing, she goes to her previous teacher and asks for help. The next scene, she is opening her acceptance letter from Oxford. Excuse me, but we are missing a key bit of information there. How exactly was Jenny able to get in to Oxford after she left school? I want to know what that teacher did. The only thing I can guess is that she slept with the dean or something, but considering this movie has a feminist message, I hope that’s not what happened. For me, that is an inexcusable hole of information.

Considering those are the only flaws I could see, I would conclude that for the most part this is indeed a good movie. I give it 7 out of 10.