Moonrise Kingdom

One of the weirder things about my interaction with popular culture is my inability to keep people straight. If two people have similar names I might never be able to figure out who is who. One good example is Wes Craven and Wes Anderson. Which one makes classic horror stories and which one makes quirky films? I have no idea most of the time. So when I turned on Moonrise Kingdom this week I didn’t know if I should be expecting zombies and nightmare stalkers or charming misfits. It turned out to be the latter.

Moonrise Kingdom is about two twelve-year-olds who are deeply unhappy with their families. They meet during a recital where Sam barges in backstage and meets the cast. He is enthralled with Suzy, who plays a raven, and they start writing to each other. They fall in love and make a complicated plan to run away together. They are on an island, which makes choice of destinations a bit limited. Not only are they on the run with no way off the island but a hurricane is also headed their way.

Sam resigns from the Khaki Scouts and sneaks off to meet Suzy, who has packed her kitten, a suitcase of books and her brother's record player. Sam has everything you need to camp so when they combine their possessions they have all the comforts of home. All that they need or want anyway.

Suzy's parents, the local sheriff, the entire troop of Scouts and their leader all start looking for the missing children. Some of the Scouts are a little on the bloodthirsty side, one of them far over the line that separates rambunctious kids from full-blown bullies. There are plenty of chase scenes, brushes with danger (even death), romance, a bit of history, severe authority and extreme kindness.

I loved this film, despite a slow start that I had to rewind three times, as I kept spacing out and missing what was happening. The acting is superb, with a star-studded cast and the story is endearing. One of my favorite things about it is a new (to me anyway) twist on the bully trope. In general in pop culture bullies stay bullies, unless they are bested, in which case they may break down to reveal they are secretly weak. Moonrise Kingdom shows us characters that are more nuanced, which really pleased me. If you're looking for a sweet, nostalgic film with some bizarre characters Moonrise Kingdom could be what you're looking for.

You can see a map of the imaginary island, the trailer to the film and more at the official website.

Two movies I tried to watch but couldn't finish – Snow White and the Huntsman and Magic Mike. Snow White was ridiculous, but I expected that. I didn't expect that I would be bored out of my mind. I lasted about an hour and couldn't stand the thought of torturing myself for another eighty minutes. Magic Mike lasted less than three minutes. The film begins with an oaf standing on stage, talking to his audience in the most condescending way possible. He is admonishing them for the very idea of touching him, complete with wagging finger. Ugh. No thank you. (Why is it that women who strip in pop culture are shown touching customers all the time but the men say hands off when they're the ones taking off their clothes?)

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is a short story that has the ability to raise quite a few emotions in the reader, including horror, disgust and pity. It's about a family that is blessed with, or cursed by, the responsibility for the care and feeding of the prophet Elijah. It's quite powerful. It's called Eliyahu ha-Navi and it's written by Max Sparber.