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Moonrise Kingdom ***1/2

This film (comedy/drama?) has a kind of underground, sleeper feel to it that has gotten strong positive reviews from both critics and audiences.

Not sure what’s wrong with me, but this movie is another one I didn’t find so wonderful.

The ‘action’ takes place in 1965 on an island (New Penzance) in New England. It’s the fantasy story of two 12-year olds who move from being pen pals to runaways and who explore their autonomy, new personae, and each other. Both Sam and Suzy are kind of misfits, and I think we’re supposed to immediately like them both.

The adults in the film, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Francis McDormand, and Bill Murray are all pretty unhappy adults whose lives, marriages, and careers are less than fulfilling. Whether Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are escaping these folks and/or are simply on an adolescent/preadolescent discovery trip, I’ll leave it for you to determine.

As I indicated above, most folks who have seen Moonrise Kingdom, including folks I know, have liked it.

Me? Not so much.


Elena, ****

I had looked forward to seeing this prize winning Russian film as I thought the reviews were intriguing. Plus, I’m partial to foreign films, which I think often are significantly better than the splashy, noisy, extravaganzas that Hollywood produces.

Initially, I was disturbed by the film, a story about a wealthy, retired businessman (Vladimir) and his second wife (Elena), his former nurse. He is estranged from his daughter, and she (Elena) is supporting her freeloading son and his family.  When Vladimir falls ill, all pretenses of normality disappear, and the story takes a dark turn.

That’s all I’ll say about the outline of the story, as I don’t want to give away much about the film.

For some reason, the more I’ve thought about the film and it’s message, the more I find it has stayed with me.

If you see it (I suspect it will not be around too long), I’d be curious about your reaction(s).


Beasts of the Southern Wild *****

Of the three films mini-reviewed here, I found this one the most intriguing and give it a higher rating than the others.

It’s the story that takes place in the Louisiana Delta (the “Bathtub”), just southwest of New Orleans. There, a ‘community’ of defiant bayou misfits/outliers/outsiders exist and live in defiance of the larger world just outside their Island.

The story centers on a six-year old girl and her harsh but loving father and what happens to both of them when a Katrina-like storm descends on their world.

The acting of Quvenzhane Wallis in the role of six-year old Hushpuppy is truly extraordinary, and I don’t remember any young actor/actress who has been as powerful as Wallis. Dwight Henry as her father (Wink) is also excellent? For the acting alone, the film gets my five stars.

The film has had mostly positive reviews, tho not has strong as either Moonrise Kingdom or Elena.

For me, I’d choose Beasts of the Southern Wild if you only have time for one of these three films.