Why can’t great people be good people? – Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde Park on Hudson - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Hyde Park on Hudson – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Richard Nelson
Stars: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams

Power corrupts. The thing about seeing an American film about an American president is that it will always try and show them in a good light, at least a little bit, even if they were awful leaders. It’s the kind of patriotism I just haven’t grown up with. However, when growing up with American popular culture filtering in through the Australian television stations, music, films, etc etc., it’s hard not to understand what it means to be patriotic and to see the appeal of powerfully positioned men.

Hyde Park on Hudson is about Franklin D. Roosevelt and the weekend when the Queen and King of England came to visit. FDR (Bill Murray) is a president who made an impression. Married to one of the most outspoken and influential women in the 1940s-1950s, Eleanor Roosevelt (Olivia Williams), FDR was not the best of husbands. He had a string of lovers on the side, including his secretary Missy (Elizabeth Marvel) and his fifth cousin Daisy (Laura Linney). The film centres on Daisy’s arrival into FDR’s world and the start of their friendship and their hidden love affair.

Linney is perfect in this film. Her portrayal of naive yet strong Daisy is powerfully moving. Her performance is what lifts this film out from the screen and into your mind. The politics, the power of situation, the tensions, the controversies all leave the moment Linney appears and you remember that this is a film about people, just people. It is about their fears, their lies, their love, their hardships, their sadness, their passions, and the power of people’s love and forgiveness.

There is however the little issue of the whole adultery thing, and the many mistresses FDR keeps. The film portrays FDR as a nice man to begin with, then slowly as you learn of the┬áindiscretions of FDR. It turns him from being a nice man and a good president into a cruel lover and a manipulator of position. Bill Murray’s character development in the film is flawless as he holds FDR’s character intact from beginning to end never allowing you to second guess him. It makes it both hard and easy to despise him for cheating on a great woman. And I suppose that is what you are meant to feel, just as Daisy would have. It’s just that he manipulates all these women and then expects them to accept him and his “habits”. And so I hate him for that. But the movie is compelling towards FDR as a character and the women in his life are empowered in their own ways through his position and power.

A history lesson of a different sort, this film left me feeling like no great and powerful men are good and nice people. It’s disheartening and pessimistic I know but it’s the feeling I was left with even with the feeling of sadness for the state of the world.

3.5/5

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Metaphors Galore, Quirkiness Reigns – Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonrise Kingdom - Official Poster from IMDB.com

Moonrise Kingdom – Official Poster from IMDB.com

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis

When I said I was going to see Moonrise Kingdom a friend asked me “So you’re a Wes Anderson fan?” and to be honest I would never have considered myself a fan of Wes Anderson. His movies are quirky, strange, and in some cases just completely bizarre. But after seeing Moonrise Kingdom I think I finally understand why people either love or hate him. However if you hate this film then there is something seriously wrong with you and you need to go to Disneyland and reclaim your childhood or something.

To try and describe Moonrise Kingdom would be to strip it bare of any real substance. At its heart it is about the love of children and how they feel passionate and life defining things. But there is so much more than that to the film. I could rant and rave for hours about the nuances of genius in the screenplay, or the incredible performances by every single one of the cast members, including the three little brothers of our heroine, Suzy (Kara Hayward). The children in this film are incredible actors and actresses. Most of the time I was sitting in awe of their ability to bring this story into life with their genuine acting. There was nothing false about their performances. The two main leads Suzy and Sam (Jared Gilman) are both “troubled” children, they are misunderstood and are trying to live in a world that will never really, truly understand why they are a little bit quirky or different. And they deal with it splendidly. Their adventure is crafted with such a big vision but also with an innocence that defines even the smallest things like what they pack for their escape. Suzy and Sam are two characters who I will never forget, they make me want to be a child again and wish that I was more adventurous when I was one.

Moonrise is beautiful and quirky and fun in every moment but with an underlying sadness of the adult lives of our parents, scout masters, and policemen. Anderson brings to light how children see the world with so much more depth than we give them credit for. We forget so easily what it was like to be a child, a teenager, a young adult even. Instead we try and grow up, we try and put on a brave face rather than being brave, and we forget how to enjoy the simple little things in life like the beauty of music and how it is constructed in so many layers. Anderson brings to light the falsehoods of adulthood, and the way we can affect children in even the smallest of ways with our actions and opinions. This film is filled with beautiful metaphors of life and love. I really want to find a way to use this as an English text as a teacher.

P.S. I still don’t love Bill Murray because he embodies the awkward and tense humour which I continually both cringe at and giggle to. It’s just too confusing to deal with. He’s great in this film, but I still don’t love him.