I’ve seen Do the Right Thing and Die Hard with a Vengeance about 100 times apiece. Two of the great New York City movies and two of the great summer-set films. And so yes, I’d heard about the heat in New York City. But I’d also followed the forecasts in NYC and never found it to be too different than the weather in Fort Wayne. A degree or two here, up or down. Pretty much the same. Then, last week, while lost in Manhattan, I felt the burn. According to my iPod Touch it was supposedly only 79 out, but it felt like, oh, 95. People everywhere, hustling. Cars, busses, trucks and trains zooming around every square inch of street. The stairs of the subway stations. The stale, cramped, busy air of the subway stations. And, mostly, the cement. The pavement. The concrete, bricks and marble. Manhattan is, essentially, a 10-mile long kiln, making the sun burn by-far more penetrating than it ever is in Fort Wayne.
Any so my girlfriend and I were on fire. Melting and lost. Just when we were about to give up and duck into a McDonalds for some A/C, water and familiarity (we’d just moved to NYC from Fort Wayne, and were – and still are – a bit shellshocked), we saw a marquee that displayed the times for Wes Anderson’s latest film, the poorly titled Moonrise Kingdom. It was playing in just four theaters in the world at the time and it was at the top of my Must-See list for 2012. And BOOM, all of the sudden, there it was, just waiting for us. Air conditioning, a World Class theater with comfortable seats, a retreat from the hustle and, of course, the movie I’d been dreaming about for two years. Life’s kinda cool sometimes.
I saw Anderson’s second film, Rushmore, at the Coventry 13 theater when I was in high school. Three times. I bought a DVD player when Rushmore was finally relased by the Criterion Collection and I literally wore my VHS copy of Bottle Rocket out. Then, while living in downtown Seattle, my girlfriend and I travelled to West Seattle because I’d heard that a store there was selling the long-demanded Criterion edition of Bottle Rocket before release date (they were, and I bought it, and it was beautiful). Most of this long before everyone loved – and then quickly began hating on – Anderson. I took off work and skipped school the day The Royal Tenenbaums was released, proceeding to watch the film four times that day in the theater – absolutely in love. Then, months and months later, I took the day off and watched it four more times when the DVD was released. And I’ve seen, and loved, everything the man has done multiple times ever since.
How do I feel about Moonrise? Did it cool me down or heat me up? Well, I liked it. The third act seemed very European Art House, but the movie was definitely enjoyable. Here’s the thing about Anderson’s films: you gotta see ‘em multiple times. Not twice. Four times. Maybe three. The movies are so saturated with details – both in the writing and style – that no one, not even you know-it-all snob punks, can truly digest a movie like Moonrise Kingdom in one sitting. The jokes get funnier and the visuals get prettier. The story gets deeper.
So no, I don’t really have a strong opinion about Moonrise Kingdom just yet. I can tell you that it’s a fun movie and I can tell you that it’s very beautiful to look at – kind of sepia tone-y and grainy, with Anderson’s usual oversaturated color design. Anderson’s collaboration with cinematographer Robert Yeoman just keeps getting better with each film, and Moonrise – shot on 16 mm film stock – is the duo’s best work yet. Many of Anderson’s hallmarks (the warm ensemble moment, the over-the-top art direction, the overhead detail shots, the quick zoom, the British Invasion moment, etc.) are here, but this is a different movie for Wes. The writing and storytelling is a bit fractured, like The Life Aquatic, but more balls-y. The movie ends, and you’re maybe a bit confused. But everything you needed was on the screen – it just wasn’t as clean and clear as it usually is in American cinemas. Kids in the 60s, running around, having fun, getting in trouble and slowly learning about life and family. And adults, acting like kids, running around, having fun, getting in trouble and slowly learning about life and family. Beautiful colors and sounds and sets. Too much to remember.