Wes Anderson

I haven’t posted any film reviews since my 2011 roundup, so let’s talk about the last two I saw.

The Avengers

I admit I had my misgivings about this as soon as they attached Joss Whedon. I know his fans love him, but I’m sorry; he’s a lightweight. Serenity. Buffy. Dollhouse. The screenplay for Alien Resurrection. Whedon has demonstrated again and again that his “skill” seems to be in making the “serious” elements of any story subject to the whims of his humor. Apparently, he would rather have a collection of characters with interchangeable voices delivering snappy one-liners than spend the effort to build any real emotional connection with the audience.

Avengers feels exactly the same. All the other Marvel films, even the horrible Incredible Hulk, had a sense of gravitas. The characters had arcs, and the story felt like thre was a real threat. Other than Tom Hiddleston as Loki, no one in Avengers has anything even remotely like an arc. I just didn’t care… and, I would argue, neither did the actors. Everyone seemed to be phoning it in, or maybe that’s just a side-effect of Whedon’s directing style. Everyone in Firefly seemed to be phoning it in, and that was the best job most of those actors ever had.

I also felt that Avengers looked bad. The entire was film was flat, and looked very much like a TV movie. I partly blame Whedon, who has a very television-oriented aesthetic, and I partly blame the DP, Seamus McGarvey, who has never shot anything (I’ve seen) that didn’t look like a TV movie.

Was Avengers horrible? Of course not. Some of the action sequences even manage to be exciting. But it certainly doesn’t live up to its hype.

Moonrise Kingdom, on the other hand, is sheer fucking brilliance.

Full disclosure; I’m a hardcore Wes Anderson fan. The Darjeeling Limited, which is far and away his weakest movie, is still one that I really enjoy (many don’t). I would fuck The Royal Tenenbaums if I could. I really wish I could get the 22-minute version of his hysterical American Express commercial on blu-ray. So, what I’m saying is I might not be the most unbiased judge; obviously, Anderson’s films hit a button with me.

That being said, I think Moonrise Kingdom is every bit the equal of Tenenbaums, and for me, that’s a huge compliment. Yes, it is a return to the classic Wes Anderson form; the color palette is unreal, the scenes unfold like vignettes from a play, and the characters are all a strange mix of the real and the fantastical, but it works seamlessly. This is a smart, funny, downright eclectic film with a sweet, charming ingenuous tone that is impossible not to love.

Yup. Sweet. Charming. And I loved it. If anything, Moonrise Kingdom is less like Tenenbaums than it is the answer to it. It isn’t cynical or black or bleak in any way, and yet it never turns to treacle. I don’t want to fuck Moonrise Kingdom, I want to spoon with it as we fall asleep, and that is every bit as good.

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