I mentioned a few weeks back about Stanley Kubrick being the greatest director who ever lived.
This week, I want to talk about my favorite living director, Wes Anderson.
Anderson has directed a total of six films, of which the most recent is “Moonrise Kingdom,” which is the story of two teenagers who run away from their New England town together and fall in love over a few days in the summer of 1965.
When I watched the wonderful film, it struck me that Anderson’s films all include numerous references to both his own films and those that are beloved to cinephiles and to Anderson himself.
When I wrote about his film “Rushmore,” I mentioned there are references to the “Godfather,” “Rocky,” as well as “Barry Lyndon.” These references either take place in the script or even in shots used in the film.
“Moonrise Kingdom” is no different.
In the film, Sam Shakusky is attending a “Khaki Scout” summer camp and his group goes to a play in which Suzy Bishop is playing a role. The two meet and begin writing each other as pen pals and arrange a secret meeting the following year.
Sam runs away from camp and meets Suzy, who has escaped her parents’ house, and the two spend a few days trekking through the fictional island called New Penzance. When they reach their destination, a secluded cove that they name Moonrise Kingdom, their romance blossoms.
Eventually the police, Suzy’s parents and the Khaki Scout leader (Edward Norton) find them at the cove. I’ll leave the rest for you to find out.
The film is classic Wes Anderson, which is to say it is charming, filled with ironic humor, a great sound track, as well as loaded with the types of film references I mentioned earlier.
The fact the island is fictional is also very typical of Anderson’s films.
One of the charming things about the places in his movies is that they are brimming with details. New Penzance is shown on a map rendered as if it were made by a top-notch cartographer.
It is always fun for me to watch or re-watch the director’s films because it is great to pick out the references he makes to other films.
In “Moonrise Kingdom,” they abound.
The first one I noticed was when Sam escapes his tent at Scout Camp, the tent has four posters hung up on its inner walls.
When the Scout Master looks in the tent one of the posters has been hung lower on the wall. He rips the poster away to reveal a hole in the wall exactly like in “The Shawshank Redemption.”
In another scene, two characters are discussing leaving and what to take and one mentions “Take the carbon, leave the Bible,” like “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” from “The Godfather.”
One of the references in the shots of the film is when a dam blows and the water comes flowing out exactly like the blood flowing out of the elevator in “The Shining.”
Even Anderson admits in tongue-in-cheek fashion that his movies contain or make references to films that have struck a particular chord in his life.
His production company is called American Empirical, with the latter word pertaining to data acquired by observation or experiment.
While his films contain these references, they do not simply equate to chopped up pieces of older movies. Each of his films is truly his own, even with his film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
Like I mentioned in my article about Stanley Kubrick, with Anderson’s movies, I have my favorites but I love them all. Both directors put such an amazing amount of detail into every one of their films, it makes them incredible.
If you haven’t seen it, check out “Moonrise Kingdom.”
It’s a beautifully made romance full of Anderson’s charming wit.