Sunday, June 3, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Last week in London we went to see Wes Anderson’s glorious new film Moonrise Kingdom. I didn’t really want to go, because I had so much work to do that evening, but he insisted. Resistance would have been futile had I persisted in it. Thank goodness I did not, because no film has so charmed or inspired me for many years, rather like the man himself. Partly this is because at Grimwade House, when I was around the same age as those kids, we too mounted a production of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. I gather the director Wes Anderson also played in it once. I fancy the late and much lamented Geoffrey Joachim must have had a part to play in staging our Melbourne production, though it must have been realized by the then director of music David Byrne, or was it Ian Harrison? All of this came back to me in a powerful surge, a torrent of pretty difficult nostalgia. At some point we must also have sung “Cuckoo!” from Britten’s Songs from Friday Afternoons (Opus 7), because it too crashed over me like an ocean breaker of memory, mingling unhelpfully with the smell of the floor polish they used in the old Memorial Hall, and the ghastly hot-pheromone wall of airlessness that adolescent boys seem to generate. I could also hear the rapid-fire clatter and clunk of all those folding seats in hideous, moveable batches of four. I want to say they were blue. Never have I been gladder to have his hand to hold—except last February when we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was shaking like a leaf. But there were in the film many other echoes of my Australian childhood: the fishing basket, especially, exactly the same as the one we had at Metung (though in a far better state of preservation; that seemed just right: ours was heavily perfumed with whitebait). And then there are the sailing and the canoeing and the inlets and the beaches and the colors. On the whole I am glad they resisted the temptation to dispatch Tilda Swinton’s wonderfully officious Social Services in a sea-plane accident, but all of the performances were good, especially I think those of Frances McDormand and Bill Murray. My man told me beforehand that every frame was technically perfect—he is a brilliant photographer, as is Anderson’s director of photography Robert Yeoman—which one naturally grasped at once, but to this I would add and underline artistically perfect too. Chromatically so rich and nuanced: every shot a composition of painterly sophistication, and delight. Watteau for the screen, with a dash of Richard Dadd, and maybe the paleness of a Puvis or, much further back, the artful symmetry of a canvas at least as large as Veronese’s The Feast in the House of Levi. The film was evidently shot around Narragansett, Rhode Island, not all that far from where I now live. I suspect love makes a big, big difference, but I am so very glad I saw Moonrise Kingdom.

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