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My 12 for ’12: Moonrise Kingdom & The Virtues of Eternal Childhood

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #8

I’ll freely confess that I am not a huge Wes Anderson fan. I admire the fact that he has managed to maintain a distinct and consistent aesthetic, one quite different from that found elsewhere, but I’m not necessarily fond of his entire body of work. I harbour a fondness for Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and – now – Moonrise Kingdom. They are, in theory at least, three very different films – one of them is a stop-motion animated adaptation of a classic Roald Dahl story, for instance. However, the linking theme among (what I perceive to be) Anderson’s strongest work is a romantic sense of childhood. Anderson’s characters are often children, no matter their actual age or how far they’ve travelled, and I think that Anderson’s work is at its very best when it embraces that sense of perpetual childhood.moonrisekingdom

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Non-Review Review: Moonrise Kingdom

I’ve always felt that Wes Anderson sees the world through the eyes of child. Events take on a surreal larger-than-life significance, characters are exaggerated, emotional interactions are somewhat simplistic, yet peppered with nuance and hidden depth. To be entirely honest, I’ve found this has a tendency to make Anderson’s adult characters difficult to relate to and his movies difficult to engage with. That’s why I think The Fantastic Mr. Fox worked so well, because it was a childish view of an adult work through the prism of a children’s story.

That’s also why, I think, Moonrise Kingdom works just as well as Anderson’s quirky foray into the world of stop motion animation. While many of Anderson’s films are tragedies about overgrown children living in the bodies of adults, Moonrise Kingdom is more keenly focused on how adults and children interact with one another – giving the movie a depth to complement Anderson’s unique stylistic vision, and heart to go with its cynical wit.

“Well, we know where we’re going…”

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Non-Review Review: Moneyball

I know nothing of baseball. Unlike the other great American sporting pastime of American Football (or, I guess, “football” to them), I simply can’t wrap my head around the activity, which seems (to me) to be a strange mix of rounders and the imaginary “whack bat” from The Fantastic Mr. Fox (which was undoubtedly intended as a parody of cricket, to mix my metaphors even further). It takes a lot for me to invest in a movie about an activity that I can barely comprehend, and Moneyball accomplishes that, by managing to craft one of the most telling and relevent sporting movies I’ve seen in quite some time. I think the film does struggle to establish an emotional connection, but it’s a very clever and very intriguing little movie.

Field of dreams...

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Non-Review Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t a movie for everyone. It’s decidedly quirkily a Wes Anderson film above all else – above being an animated or stop motion film or a Roald Dahl adaptation. There’s the same dialogue and awkward poses and eccentric misunderstood characters at its core. It’s decidedly retro and it won’t win any awards for visual innovation. But – somewhat fittingly for a movie with a moral about being yourself – it is very much its own movie. Still, the suggestion that this isn’t a movie for kids is a little disingenuous. There are, I reckon, a lot of children who will enjoy the movie’s style and story and beauty. However, there will be a quite a few who won’t. But I reckon the same will be true of an adults as well. This is a movie for Wes Anderson fans, of all ages – even those who have never seen a Wes Anderson film before in their lives. But it’s also a film for those who can appreciate cinema in all its forms and with all its different trappings and styles. Those looking for a conventional animated children’s tale, or particularly light entertainment, will likely leave disappointed – but those looking for something with a bit more soul than usual will be right at home.

He's a foxy fella..

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