Moonrise Kingdom


Viewed – 04 January 2020. Blu-ray

I’d say I’m becoming a fan of director Wes Anderson. His movies are so much pleasure to simply ‘look at’ with his captivating and whimsical camera work, shot competition and near-cartoonish approach to story telling. It’s a style that feels theatrical and obsessively planned out but retains a relaxed charm and personality that continues to draw me in.

This effort from 2012 follows the story of a young boy who runs away from a scout camp on a remote offshore island to embark on a back-to-nature adventure with the girl he loves. This causes the community including the girl’s parents Bill Murray & Francis McDormand as well as the local Police captain Bruce Willis to launch a search. This is a gentle, comical drama that has two strong turns from young actors Jated Gilman & Kara Hayward, perfectly supported by several recognisable faces including Edward Norton and Tilda Swindon. Although not the most compelling of plots, with a central love story that’s far from ‘deep’, Anderson’s direction is so charming that despite some slow moments I was still entertained.

It doesn’t have the infectious energy of say the more recent Grand Budapest Hotel, but with a fun setting and likeable performances this was another in the director’s back catalogue I’m very happy to have seen.

The Blu-ray release from the U.K. division of The Criterion Collection has a pleasing image quality that is vibrant if a little soft probably due to the movie’s exaggerated sepia colour pallet. There’s also a perfectly acceptable 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack that showcases the regular, off-kilter music cues and good use of surrounds and sub woofer (especially in the climactic rainstorm). However it’s in the extras this release excels, with a fun archive commentary from 2015 with the director along with select members of crew and cast. Add to this plenty of behind the scenes footage including a brief set tour with Bill Murray as well as footage filmed by Edward Norton. The movie is also presented in attractive packaging using the movie’s scout-camp imagery for a booklet, postcard and map of the island. It’s not in my opinion one of Wes Anderson’s best movies but perfectly fits in with a style that fans will be familiar with and is well worth a watch.

Verdict:

(the movie) Good

(the Blu-ray) Recommended

Fargo


Viewed – 25 April 2014  Blu-ray

I would generally say, you can’t go wrong with a movie from sibling directing / writing duo Joel & Ethan Coen.  Their brand of often darkly comical thrillers, mysteries and just plain wacky comedies have earned them many accolades and have them standing tall as two of the best film makers around.  That’s not to say they don’t sometimes perplex me, with the underwhelming Intolerable Cruelty and the bizarre A Serious Man … but also like this Oscar winning effort from 1996 their movies deserve multiple viewings and like me, you may not necessarily ‘get it’ first time around.

Fargo

William H Macy plays a car sales man in money troubles, who thinks his only way out is to have his unassuming wife kidnapped so her rich father can pay the ransom.  Enter kidnappers Steve Buscemi (kinda funny lookin’) and Peter Stormare, who pretty much screw up the whole deal.  This snapshot of Minnesota, South Dakota life and their inhabitants pokes fun at their accents but also captures a good natured likability that despite the cold, the deep snow and the fact we have a murder or two (or three) … seems a nice place to visit.  In the Coen’s hands though this is that kind of uncomfortably funny, macabre tone they seem to nail so perfectly … is it a comedy?  is it serious? … neither question needs to be answered as you wallow in several excellent performances.  Macy is superb as the awkward, nervous sales man in over his head, and remains one of my favourite actors.  A special mention must of course go to Francis McDormand, another superb actor who pretty much steals the movie even though she doesn’t appear for the first half hour or so.  Buscemi is also great as is a dead-eyed, sinister Stormare to round out a great cast.

This should probably go on record as one of the Coen’s most satisfying and well played movies and if you haven’t seen it, I really think you should.

The Blu-ray is a re-release and remastered version of the earlier HD release and boasts a very detailed image, with plenty of clarity and detail to things such as cars, signs, close-ups and in door scenes.  Outside it gets a little softer but considering the amount of snow and distant shots this should be expected.  The sound in either DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 or Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 is more than acceptable but for a gentle, talky movie it’s not going to be a fully immersive showcase for your system.  Extras include an informative commentary by director of photography (and Coen regular) Roger Deakins and also a fun and interesting trivia track to play as you watch the movie.  As this gained a big cult following after release and plenty of talk about it’s apparent true story (it isn’t) – this makes for a worthwhile inclusion.  An archival documentary, a photo gallery, trailer and TV spot also round out this release, making for pretty decent treatment of a genuine modern classic.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5