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.

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Gotta have soul – The Sapphires

The Sapphires - Official Poster - from IMPawards.com

The Sapphires – Official Poster – from IMPawards.com

The Sapphires (2012)

Director: Wayne Blair
Writers: Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
Stars: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy

There is always a little part of me that tends to cringe at Aussie humour. It’s something about it being a little bit corny and overdone that I find groan-worthy. It is something that I’ve been discovering has been shaken out of Australian films little bit by little bit over the years and it has now hit the right tone in most Australian films that I’ve seen over the last couple of years. I think it’s also a better quality of all aspects of film making as well which has begun to give Aussie films a real chance of succeeding in other countries as well as at home. The Sapphires is a perfect example of the quality films that Australia is producing.

Based on a true story, The Sapphires follows the story of a group of Australian indigenous women with talented voices and a passion to use them. It is set during the Vietnam war, which is not a time period I know much about, apart from the funky music and cute fashion, oh and Forrest Gump. The story between the women is heartbreaking and endearing all at the same time. It shows the intricate difficulties of racism in Australia in the 50s and 60s and how it affected all people involved, not just Aboriginals nor just white people. I found that this point was handled incredibly well. It balanced the sensitivity with the truth and harshness of racism and made the world of Australia in the 1960s really come alive with a unique view from the point of view of indigenous Australians.

The highlight of the film for me had to be the relationship between Deborah Mailman’s character of Gale and Chris O’Dowd’s beautiful and hilarious portrayal of Dave. The arc of their story has a unique and wonderful twist to it and to watch it unravel on screen is simply delightful. You really feel for all the women in this film, from the women in the Sapphires to their mum, aunt, cousin, etc, there is a grace and sharpness to the shape of the relationships between the women. It is this that gripped me through the film, I was pulled in through the comedy and emotional take on the women and the battles they faced in their lives. The strength of these women is showcased in a variety of ways and it was fantastic to see strength in women displayed in these ways as it really illuminated the different ways femininity can be expressed.

Chris O’Dowd provided a wonderful lightness and humour to the film and really bound the film to an international grounding, as well as the link with the Americans in Vietnam. I really do hope this film is accepted by an international audience.

The only complaint I have about this film is the one or two times when that old Aussie cringe-worthy humour and corniness came through the cracks, but I was able to overlook this because of the strength of the rest of the film. Go and see it if you get the chance. It’s made me fall in love with Soul music all over again.