Tag Archives: Moonrise Kingdom

A whimsical stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel

tumblr_n21u7uBLRo1qa1ubyo1_500On Friday night, Sean and I went to see Wes Anderson’s latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, at the cinemaplex in Union Square. We actually tried to see it the Saturday before because New York and L.A. got an early release on the nationwide date, but lo and behold, it was totally sold out from here until tomorrow.

The plot is a little complicated to explain, as it’s a story within a story within a story, all nestled together like Russian dolls. Wes Anderson uses different screen dimensions to help make the different time periods a little more clear. At the heart of the movie is Zero Moustafa, owner of the now-faded Grand Budapest Hotel, reflecting on his youth as the hotel’s lobby boy under the tutelage of elegant concierge Gustave H., who is well-loved by his wealthy patrons, until one day he is accused of murdering a Madame D. and stealing a priceless Renaissance painting, and is then consequently imprisoned. All this set against the backdrop of a fictional European pre-WWII nation on the brink of change and turmoil.

tumblr_n2he01MGDT1qhqo72o1_500We have been on a bit of a Wes Anderson kick for the past couple of years, going through all of his films. I don’t know why it took me so long to get into them — I’m a huge sucker for romantically old-fashioned (some might even say, “twee”) things: cardigans, ballet flats, used bookstores, pastel macrons, rusty typewriters, Moleskine calendar pocketbooks. So it makes perfect sense that I would adore the whimsical nostalgia of Wes Anderson’s dollhouse worlds, each frame a perfectly arranged visual feast of the antiquated (careful cursive handwriting, rotary phones, telegrams) seeped in Polaroid-esque tones of yesteryear. I love his quirky characters, and I love the enchanting soundtracks.

Did you know Wes Anderson was born in Houston and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he met actor and longtime artistic partner, Owen Wilson? I think it’s so cool that these two Texas boys are still such BFFs and loyally make movies together.

tumblr_n1ha69O7we1qhbn7lo1_500I thought Grand Budapest Hotel, while clearly following Anderson’s iconic aesthetic (just look at his palette of blues, pinks, reds, and purples! swoon!), was also a bit different from his previous films — although in an enjoyable way. This story seemed a lot more fast-paced than some of his others, complete with a prison escape with the perfect Anderson touch — tiny little pickaxes and hammers smuggled to the prisoners via delicate pastel pastries — and a resulting chase scene reminiscent of vintage Looney Tunes cartoons.

But the overall theme was still distinctly one of nostalgia: of the last glory years of eastern Europe before the explosion of WWII and the Iron Curtain. It was charming, but also a little unsettling, even if the Nazis were goofily renamed the “ZZ.”

With the recent movie release, there have been several interesting articles popping up about what makes Anderson’s movies so visually appealing. I think it’s because they have a certain simplistic storybook feel: here are the little people in their little houses, watch them move across the page. The Vulture recently published a story on how Anderson characters always move in a straight horizontal line across the screen or in a straight vertical line either directly toward or directly away from the camera. Like such:

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And then this brilliant montage popped up recently, revealing the perfect symmetry of Anderson’s shots:

I can’t tell you how happy this supersymmetry makes me. If you’ve never seen a Wes Anderson movie, you should give them a try.

My favorite is Moonrise Kingdom, which is the first movie we saw in theaters after moving here, and I remember the heavy air conditioning at the theater was such a welcome relief from sweltering in our apartment as we moved in furniture and unpacked our things.

It is my quintessential summer film; I love the story of these two adolescent outsiders becoming good friends and falling in innocent prepuscent love. Plus, it has everything you wanted in a summer as a kid, whether you’ve personally experienced these things or not: sleepaway camp, canoeing, a secret penpal, window seat reading, beach dancing, a kitten stolen away in a picnic basket. Ed Norton dressed as Khaki Scout troop leader, goofy khaki shorts, hat and all.

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5 Date Night Movies

500 Days movie theaterMovie date nights are my favorite. I love going to the theater and the overwhelming buttery popcorn smell and the loudness of it, but I also like watching movies on our couch with a blanket and unlimited snacks. Sometimes it can be hard to decide on a movie that both of us want to watch, however. I think when it comes to rom-coms — the classic date night movie genre — the key is to find films that have strong male leads, not just the cookie-cutter Perfect Boyfriend of chick flicks, as well as the type of female protagonist you’d want to be friends with yourself.

Here are 5 of our favorites, listed in order of release date from most recent on:

Silver Linings Playbook (Dec. 2012)

Silver-linings-playbookWe just went to see this last Thursday, to see what all the Oscars hype is about. It was a really worthwhile movie. Sean hated the ending (I loved it), but we both definitely enjoyed everything up until then. Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a psychiatric hospital with a late diagnosis of bipolar disorder and is living with his parents while he tried to get his life back together, including making up with his estranged wife. Then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow dealing with emotional issues of her own. The two quickly become friends, and it soon becomes clear there is a little something more developing between them.

I love how real the two protagonists in this film were. Neither was anywhere near perfect, but you couldn’t help but liking them and rooting for them to end up together (our theater actually applauded at the end of the movie, haha). While any movie dealing with mental illness is going to have some heavy overtones, there are many laugh-out-loud scenes. And don’t even get me started on Jennifer Lawrence. She is perfection in this film, and she completely deserves her Oscar nomination.

Moonrise Kingdom (summer 2012)

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Wes Anderson’s most recent film is my ideal summer movie: whimsical and nostalgic. Suzy and Sam develop a romantic plan to run away together, setting off a lot of parental concern. While it’s clear that the two kids have a definite affection for one another — and identify together in their “outsiderness” — it’s also funny to watch them develop their relationship by the book because they have no idea what they are really doing. Moonrise Kingdom is a fun, carefree movie that is sure to bring a smile to your face. I promise. It’s also one of those films that’s just really beautiful to look at.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Film Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

This might be more of a “guy movie,” but I love it. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a loser who plays bass in a bad rock band and lives in a basement apartment with his much wealthier, gay roommate when he meets Ramona Flowers, a mysteriously cool girl from the States (Scott’s Canadian) with neon hair and a crazy past. Before he can date her, he must first defeat her seven evil exes. Based on the quirky graphic novel series, which I also loved, the film combines elements of comic book and video game storytelling. It’s quite creative, I think, and has so many quotable lines that you’ll catch yourself repeating for years to come (our favorite is “BREAD MAKES YOU FAT?!?”). I’m 100% for any movie that is timelessly quotable.

500 Days of Summer (2009)

500-days-summer-2009--large-msg-130281966589My roommate didn’t like this movie because it doesn’t have the stereotypical Hollywood ending, and also she thought the two main characters were “weird.” Whatever. I know a lot of guys who really love this movie, and I know that every girl except my roommate will love it because it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tom (JGL) falls head-over-heels for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), his new co-worker, and everything seems like it’s going great…until things fall apart. You know the relationship is doomed from the beginning, because the story is unconventionally told in nonchronological order (and you know, that whole “500 days” thing in the title), as Tom desperately tries to reason out what went wrong.

Some feminists critique this movie because Summer isn’t a fully fleshed-out character so much as the manic pixie dream-girl stereotype, who cutely flits in and out of the frame as Tom works his life out. I think this is true, but I also think that’s kind of the point. Tom had fallen in love with the idea of somebody, instead of the girl herself. Fun fact: The filmmakers chose a very blue-centric color scheme for Summer’s wardrobe and a lot of the sets (like Summer’s apartment) to emphasize the color of her blue eyes. This not only makes visual sense but also thematic sense to me — for Tom, the entire world has been constructed around this girl. He sees no one else out there for him, even if he should.

Annie Hall (1977)

Annie HallThis movie is a classic, with good reason. New York comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) falls for ditsy, whimsical Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Their banter is charming and awkward. This film also does so many groundbreaking things for its time, like breaking the fourth-wall by having the characters directly speak to the camera, and incorporating the contemporary characters into flashback scenes and having them comment on the memories as they walk through scenes of yesteryear. So good!

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