Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Criterion Collection - MOONRISE KINGDOM on Blu-ray ""

Friday, September 25, 2015

Criterion Collection - MOONRISE KINGDOM on Blu-ray

MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012; Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson is a pretty big deal to me. I came to discover him at a very serendipitous time in my life. I was in college and had just changed my focus of study from marine biology to film. I was taking my first cinema theory courses and my mind was blowing wide open with love and fascination for Howard Hawks, John Ford and Billy Wilder. I was digging deeper into Hitchcock and other classic film giants, but I was also keeping a close eye on new movies, especially independent stuff. I was working at a video store through all four years of college and it was a constant as far as allowing me to stay tapped into the newest movies and allowed me to discover so much that I never would have tried had I been paying for each rental. So my co-workers and I took full advantage of the free rental benefits we got (I think we got three free rentals at a time) and that sometimes led to us finding movies that we off the beaten path. BOTTLE ROCKET was one such discovery and it blew me away. The sensibility and sense of humor present in the movie was not really like much I had seen previously and it hooked me completely. By the the time RUSHMORE was hitting theaters I was fully Wes Anderson obsessed and beyond ecstatic after I saw it. It became my favorite film for quite a while. A few years later, when the Criterion Collection DVD of RUSHMORE came out, I was working at a video store and we happened to get copies of it early. A few days before it came out, Wes Anderson himself came in and I was able to get him to sign a copy for me. It is still one of my most prized possessions. I have rarely been more flummoxed and speechless than when he was signing that disc for me and I was desperately trying to think of something to say. I was absolutely starstruck. I'd be even more so at present. It sounds strange to say that there is some nostalgic affection intertwined with my Anderson fandom, but he has been making movies for just about twenty years now after all. So it's partially a product of my having seen his stuff at just the right time when I was still kind of forming my taste in movies as they are today. Not only my taste in movies, but also the direction my life was headed in. The experience of seeing his early movies right at this moment when I was thinking about my new curriculum and where it might lead me career-wise with some trepidation was quite illuminating. Those Anderson films were part of what helped me feel better about my decision to take a different path. If there were filmmakers out there like this, there was a place for me inside this world somewhere. At least, that's how I think it subconsciously affected me at the time.
I prefaced with all that stuff just to give you an idea if where I'm coming from when it comes to Wes Anderson cinema. I love it and it's tough for him to do much wrong in my eyes (not that I think all his stuff is perfect, but I do like all of it). It's gotten to the point now where I find myself going to the latest Wes Anderson movies and keeping my expectations low for fear that this new one might be no good. He hasn't disappointed me yet (especially after multiple viewings of each of his movies). MOONRISE KINGDOM is very much one of my favorites of his and my adoration for it seems to grow each time. The film really had me from the first time I saw it. Once that "No. I said what kind of bird are YOU?" scene happens in the movie, I was hooked. I have an absolute weakness of unabashed public romantic displays like that (in movies). There's a scene I am reminded of in SUPERMAN'S RETURN. Superman saves a plane from crashing and gets on board to check on everyone. He zones in on Lois Lane (who had been a passenger) and asks if she is okay. He obviously cares about all the other passengers too (as they all look on during his inquiry), but at that moment he just wants to talk to Lois. So MOONRISE KINGDOM is like that, but more like a whole movie of that kind of thing. It's the story of two kids on an island of who run off together. How romantic is that? How romantic and adorable are the letters they exchange before their clandestine meetup? How romantic are the marital proceedings in this movie? It's all just delightful and the two kids (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) and quite good. As with every Anderson outing, the supporting cast (including Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman and more) superb as well. Some folks might complain that Wes Anderson just keeps making the same movie over and over again. Whilst I can see how those people might be led astray, I find that each of his films, though quite specifically marked with his own unique brand of hipster quirkiness, is an interesting step forward in some way. Lately he has really been trying to expand his pallet beyond films that are more parts comedic than dramatic. He is really finding a way to solidify his voice even more as this thing that lives between a laugh and a gasp - many scenes in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL demonstrated this certainly. MOONRISE is just another step in that evolution of Anderson as a filmmaker wherein in he moves closer and closer to making movies like nobody else makes them. It has been a terrific treat to see him become more and more adventurous with the drama and emotional content of his films, whilst still maintaing his particularly congenial sense of humor throughout. MOONRISE in particular seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people since it was released. The proliferation of fan artwork for this entry in Anderson's filmography is quite excellent and I've included some of my favorite pieces in this post.

This Director-Approved Special Edition sports a healthy helping of extras that will satisfy the hardcore Wes Anderson nerds and others as well:
-Restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director Wes Anderson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
-An Audio commentary featuring Anderson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Roman Coppola. Peter Becker (of Criterion) himself is also a moderator on this commentary and that's pretty neat because it doesn't happen very often.
-Selected-scene storyboard animatics.
-Interviews with cast and crew.
-Exploring the Set of “Moonrise Kingdom,” an original documentary about the film.
-Edward Norton’s home movies from the set.
-Behind-the-scenes, special effects, and test footage.
-PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a selection of commentary from young writers, along with a map of New Penzance Island and other ephemera.

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