Signature style: How does Moonrise Kingdom stack up in a game of Wes AndersonBingo?
We’ve been waiting awhile for Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, a brightly-hued tribute to first love that opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival to overwhelming critical acclaim.
It’s been half a decade since his last live-action feature, Darjeeling Limited, and three years since his last wide release, the stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox, but — much like the ageless fantasy worlds his stories are set in — this new project shows his aesthetic remains as highly stylized and earnestly emotional as ever.
Let’s see how many of the filmmaker’s famously eclectic tropes turn up in Wes Anderson's latest movie.
The film’s recent limited release has set box office records; it is now playing in Houston at the River Oaks Theatre, Cinemark at Market Street and Cinemark Tinseltown at The Woodlands. There are plenty of ways to celebrate: You could take a look at these gorgeous posters, or listen to character-based playlists curated by Music Supervisor Randall Poster. Or you could play a few rounds of Wes Anderson Bingo.
That’s exactly what we did after our recent viewing of Moonrise Kingdom. Let’s see how many of the filmmaker’s famously eclectic tropes turn up:
The film centers on Khaki Scout Sam Shakusky and his pen pal Suzy Bishop, both characteristically wise beyond their years, so this square’s locked down from the start. While Sam and Suzy (first roles for Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, respectively) are both strong characters, it’s in their level interactions with adults that they truly shine, notably in Sam’s man-to-man talk with Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s bathtub conversation with her mother (Frances McDormand).
The children of Moonrise Kingdom are more stable than the adults around them, yet still unquestioningly beholden to their rules. The most by-the-book “adult” comes in the form of Tilda Swinton’s Social Services (both the character’s name and the agency she represents), who is more of a caricature than an actual authority figure. Contrasting scenes of Sam and Suzy’s instant connection with clips of the Bishops (McDormand and Bill Murray) addressing each other curtly and repeatedly as “counselor” hammers this home (and reminds us of parents who insist on calling each other “Mom” and “Dad” — never a good sign).
While Sam is outwardly brave about his parents’ death and his subsequent stint in an orphanage, Suzy’s family woes are more philosophical. She’s aware that her parents don’t know how to handle her — and, in a quietly devastating scene between McDormand and Murray, we see they aren’t, either. Consider this square filled on both a literal and emotional level.
We don’t see much interaction between Suzy and her siblings, but sidebar, we can kind of picture her three younger brothers growing up to become Darjeeling Limited’s train-riding trio.
Symmetrical Framing / Overhead Shot
Extremely careful angles and almost jarringly symmetrical shots are sprinkled throughout, but it’s the film’s opening scene that seems most in line with previous Anderson works, a sweeping single shot tour of the Bishops’ sprawling beachfront manse.
Fill in this square when you spot the school bus emblazed with a Futura-fonted Khaki Scout district.
We love Scout Master Randy Ward’s (Edward Norton’s) precisely ironed neckerchief. (Other Bingo squares Pajamas, Knit Hat, Vintage Eyeglasses, Tan Suit Jacket, Beret and Bathrobe all make an appearance, too.)
1960s Brit Pop / Dated Audio Equipment
Suzy hauls her brother’s bright plastic record player across rivers and up mountains, though she seems to have brought just one 7" to play — a Francoise Hardy single, naturally.
Few shots in the film lack at least a little yellow, from the golden bandanas and badges adorning scout troops to the overwhelmingly lemon-drenched kitchen of Sam’s former foster family.
Rapid Camera Movement
Anderson’s known for approaching dangerous or intense moments with a shaky hand, relying on camera movement and quick cuts to express action, but there are a few moments in Moonrise Kingdom whose SFX could have been a little more precise (like a particularly cartoonish struck-by-lightning sequence).
Sam and Suzy’s relationship grows through their increasingly intimate letters, prim and messily written on scraps of classroom-lined paper and stored in boxes labeled “Secret.” Can we all agree to write more letters, now?
Eric Anderson Artwork
Of course multi-talented Sam is an accomplished painter, and of course Eric Anderson’s iconic art stands in, from watercolored nudes to the beach scene that both closes the film and gives its title.
Luke Wilson / Owen Wilson / Kumar Pallana
These frequent Anderson collaborators are sadly absent from Moonrise Kingdom’s cast, but luckily, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman (also on the Bingo board) make appearances. While we miss Kumar Pallana, Bob Balaban steps into to the “wise Sherpa / narrator” role with delightful ease.
None, but mostly because there are no ethnic characters. Blank square!
Check out the trailer:
Take a tour of the set with Bill Murray: