Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Alien vs Whimsy
I somehow managed to drag myself to the theater twice this weekend, for the highly anticipated Prometheus, and less than highly anticipated Moonrise Kingdom.
Before we discuss these films, let me warn you, there will be a some spoilers here, so let me say this...if you are at all interested in seeing them, I think they are definitely BOTH worth seeing in the theater. Then again, I'm of the opinion that any visually striking film is worth seeing in the theater, if you can afford the $15.
So where to start? At the beginning? When the ripped bald guy visited Iceland and dissolves himself into a bunch of DNA to kick start evolution? Ummm....I'm not going to bother trying to explain the plot of Prometheus, it's best explained here.... We all know, going into this movie, that it's not going to be a happy romp on an alien planet where the visitors find exactly what they have been looking for and everyone had a gay ole time...so the film is going to rely upon strong characters, reasonable premise, and a visually striking world. For the first hour, I'd say it at least gets the visually striking world thing right, and those other two points, are fair enough....then, the whole thing goes to pot. I'm not sure what happened, is there a missing reel somewhere? Did the studio executives chop the thing up like mad fools? Was Ridley on crack at some point? It's like there's Chapter 1, then Chapter 3...but what happened to Chapter 2?
Look, here's the thing....the movie is totally absurd...you are with it for a while, and then it's just gone...none of the characters you want to see get developed get more than a few lines, some of them even barley that. Some characters are complete throwaways and there are mad inconsistencies all over the place. I could tear this thing to pieces, but let me tell you all this -
This is one of those movies that you almost have to see just so you can talk about how absurd it is. And, at the same time, it's filled with such artful shots that you almost want to forgive the sloppy story, and absurd plot. So, in short, 2.5 Molos
Now, we have Wes Anderson's latest opus in whimsical delight of dark adorableness, Moonrise Kingdom.
This photo is probably the least cute I could have chosen from the interwebs, but it does show the narrator, that guy from Alias! (and Waiting for Guffman, etc...) I forget his name, but he's good. In any case, I had my reservations about seeing this, after all, Wes lost me at some point way back during The Life Aquatic, when things just became toooo Wes Anderson. He started to almost be parodying himself. Cute and Whimsy, sets and style seemed to become far more important than plot and actual human characters that we could believe in, and while fun to look at, those last few movies didn't do much. They had not the greatness of Rushmore.
So we come to Moonrise Kingdom and find Wes again, being oh so Wes, and you know what? It works this time. It's no Royal Tenebaums or Rushmore, but Moonrise Kingdom is a sweet, lovely, interesting little flick that only a more cynical man than myself wouldn't enjoy (if such a man exists). Again, we have movie stars in quirky, offbeat roles (Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand) but they all fit in. There is certainly that silly novelty of it all, but it's more sincere this time. Maybe it's the use of brand new child actors that pulls the thing off (my understanding is that neither of them are trained actors at all) or maybe it's just the simpleness of the plot (2 misunderstood kids run away together)...but damn, it works this time. It feels more sincere, like Wes got his sincerity back. Or maybe Roman Coppola did, his co-author. In any case, I've talked a lot about this movie but not said a damn thing. Except that I liked it. 3.5 Molos.