What Kind of Bird Are You?


Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
A Review By Ben Hunter
5 Out of 5 Stars
May 20, 2012

“Get to the point Ben!” Very detailed, very specific, everything is on purpose.  This is in all movies, but noticeable and aware to our conscious thinking within this film.  Wes Anderson has completely outdone himself and I don’t know how he can even begin to top this.  It’s the first Oscar film of the year!

“This is the island of New Penzance. Sixteen miles long ... forested with old growth pine and maple ... crisscrossed by shallow tidal creeks ... Chickchaw territory.  There are no paved roads … but instead many miles of intersecting footpaths and dirt trails and a ferry that runs twice daily from Stone Cove.  The year ... is 1965. We are on the far edge of Black Beacon Sound, famous for the ferocious and well-documented storm, which will strike from the East, on the fifth of September … in three days' time.”

Sam Shakusky
What kind of bird are you?  I’m not talking to the macro, the entire group reading this.  I’m talking to the micro, the individual trying to think what the heck do I mean by referencing birds and such.

Journey back to the mid 1960’s, when The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys were all over the music charts, Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” and The Supremes’ “Stop! In the Name of Love” made history as songs that will live on forever, Martin Luther King Jr. led supporters in the civil rights movement on a march to Selma, Marilyn Monroe recently passed away, The Sound of Music was in theaters, to shortly thereafter win the Oscar as the top movie that year, Star Trek & The Twilight Zone took us to other worlds away, and two young kids Sam & Suzy fell in love, and ran away together. 

Sam & Suzy plan their route while they run away together
Sam (Jared Gilman) is in summer camp apart of troop 55 led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton).  Suzy (Kara Hayward) is a young girl soon to come of age, brought up by her mother Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) and father Walt (Bill Murray).  Sam is different from the other troops; he keeps to himself and isn’t really interested in being in summer camp.  He just wants to do his own thing.  So with this independent spirit he comes across Suzy one night in her school play where she portrays a particular kind of bird and the two have an instant connection, what a lot of adults wish for today, romantically, with another person.  They plan to run away together and when they do, it sends everyone in the town in a frenzy trying to look for them, all during a time when a big storm comes over the town.

The star studded cast in a frenzy
while searching for Sam & Suzy
We learn to stay true to who we are; to not go along with the masses because it looks right on the surface.  Sam took a stand and did what he thought was right.  A parent can inform their child from this to not be afraid to open up to their family and say what it is that they’re feeling and thinking, something I personally can relate to, as well as I’m sure many others can as well.  Take a stand and live your life for once, don’t just do what you think you should, but what you know you should and what you feel is right.  We could all learn a lesson from Sam who does this; and this makes his connection with Suzy that much more beautiful.  She instantly feels what he does and wants to break out of the box she lives in as well.  Sam, Suzy, we ALL feel this connection from the very first words the two share together, when Sam asks Suzy about her character in the play, “What kind of bird … are YOU?” 

This movie is different, the good kind of different.  It could EASILY be a Saturday morning cartoon someday.  A LOT of work was put into this world that writer/director Wes Anderson created.  You thought Avatar was heavily detailed, well yeah because it’s so obvious.  But we forget almost every other well-done film out there is the same, just not as noticeable and obvious as Avatar.  Anderson and his team put SO MUCH detail into EVERY scene.  I had to take a step out of the dream world for a moment and just admire things like wooden fences in the background with perfectly cut triangular wooden tips all equally alike in image, or how the set up of Police Captain Sharp’s office by the bay’s water tower (nicely portrayed by Bruce Willis) looks like a perfectly crafted picture frame hanging in someone’s dinning room which can then be turned into a Saturday morning cartoon.  This world was carefully and closely detailed and crafted to the centimeter, nothing was overlooked, everything was on purpose. Wes Anderson has clearly outdone himself! THIS is filmmaking at its finest!  Which makes me so eager for his next one to see how he could even try to top this. 

The search party grows as the search continues!
So with everything carefully constructed to create this specific world, the dialogue between the film’s characters was no exception.  It took me a little while to catch on with the lingo of the movie.  There’s a specific tone, order, and structure with the way the characters communicate with each other; all with a distinct type of humor that lovely marinates with the film’s structure.  It takes a little bit to catch on to the flow of communication, but worth it when you’ve officially transitioned into this world.  A world that leaves you with a smile in the end in the very last shot, to then keep you integrated all throughout the credits to recognize Alexandre Desplat’s BRILLIANT score that he composed and realize it was amazing all throughout the experience. 

What kind of bird are you?
Once I made the transition into Moonrise Kingdom I said, “The first Oscar film of the year has surfaced!”  My producer hat kicked in afterward.  I then said, “Wow, working with all those kids must have been a nightmare!”  Working with minors brings up a lot of rules to film by.  So Wes Anderson definitely upped the ante by casting minors as the primary roles to then sell the film with the A-List supporting actors.  Only a seasoned director could do something like this, and it was worth it!  Well done, Wes Anderson, well done! 

Moonrise Kingdom gets a perfect score in my book.  The first Oscar film of the year! 

Break out of your box and live your life! 

What kind of bird are you?

Moonrise Kingdom
Comedy, 94 Minutes, PG-13
Written by: Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Cast: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, & Bob Balaban

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