Sunday, May 4, 2014

Moonrise Kingdom: the truth in its absurdity

Wes Anderson, the director of the cult classic, Moonrise Kingdom, makes use of camera shots, lighting, music, and the setting to set the mood and tone for this quirky movie. Set in an older era, the summer of 1965, the story is simplistic. It follows the forbidden love of a young girl and boy as the society around them tries to stop their eloping. While the story mimics Shakespeare’s well known tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is much more comical. The love between Romeo and Juliet is greatly romanticized and often sought out by popular culture because of the characters’ passion, impulsive, and tragic circumstances. It is not often seen as silly, trivial, or comical even though the story takes place within a time span of approximately four or five days. Moonrise Kingdom’s much younger protagonists, however, are harder to take seriously. To be quite honest, none of the characters can really be taken seriously. But that’s the point of movie. Wes Anderson takes the classic Shakespearean, romantic tragedy and reworks it with a twist. His “Romeo” and “Juliet” are two twelve year olds running away from home for the sake of love, but their youth makes the love between them seem silly and trivial. Their naivety and age makes it easy for the audience to dismiss the love between them as being “child’s play”. However, viewers will realize by the end of the movie that the love between these two twelve year olds cannot be more genuine. In fact, it might be the most genuine and earnest thing in the movie. The time period in which the movie is set, the summer of 1965, is characterized by bright pastel colors, the emerging American nuclear family, and plastic-like artificial perfection. Wes Anderson makes use of the time period and camera shots to flip our perception of what it earnest and what is superficial by illustrating the society around the two characters to be “fake” and “doll-like”. This is captured in the opening scenes of the movie. The shots of the room are taken at a distance so that the room is perfectly square and open to the audience like the room of a doll house. The furniture is impeccably neat as are the children and the clothes, to the point where everything seems slightly unnatural. The makeup of the grown women also reflects this artificial perfection. The doll-like makeup would have been “in style” during this particular period but it’s also purposeful. The sharp, black eyeliner, colorful eye shadow, and pink lipstick are as artificial as the “perfect” relationships that exist between the husbands and wives, parents and children, and teachers and students. The characters within this film have very little (if any) sense of humor and take matters very seriously, but that’s what makes this film a comedy. The unexpected truth and honesty behind this very young love reveals the superficiality of the society around them and evokes humor. It’s a contradiction to our expectation that romantic love belongs the “adult world” and is based on maturity; it’s a situation that is rarely seen in real life, and it’s madness. But there is truth in the oddity of this situation which gives the simplistic and comedic nature of the story depth.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Analyzing Catch Me If You Can

The movie, Catch Me If You Can is about a young sixteen year old boy named Frank Abegnale Jr. who runs away from home after his parents get divorced. He learns to forge checks, and impersonates an airline pilot, doctor, and lawyer to survive. What’s most notable throughout this movie is its use of music to convey Frank’s thought process and emotion. The character’s need to runaway and commit fraud to live the “ideal life” stems from his parents’ divorce in which his family lost everything. At one point in the movie, he tells his father, “Dad, I’m getting married in two weeks- I’m buying a sixty thousand dollar house, a new Cadillac. I’m getting it all back, everything they took from us. I want you and Mom to come to the wedding together.” The movie makes use of old Sinatra songs to convey his inner wishes. In the earlier scenes when his mother and father were still together, they would dance in the living room to the song, “Embraceable You”. Unfortunately, Frank, who is holding their red wine, spills some on the carpet. This spilling of the red wine foreshadows the darkening of his parents’ relationship. The color red, symbolizes the frustration, aggression, and criminal activity that would follow suit. As Frank gets ready to marry a nice Southern girl named Brenda, he is invited over to her house for dinner. And he watches in the shadows, peeking into the kitchen as Brenda’s parents wash the dishes together. They seem happy and very much in love. The same song that his parents danced to in the earlier scene plays, making the song “Embraceable You” sound bitter sweet this time around because of the way this scene parallels Frank’s past. Frank stands in the shadows because he knows that he can never be a part of that happy family. Standing in the glowing light of the kitchen, Brenda’s parents emanate warmth. They represent his inner desire for his parents to get back together again. The shadow that Frank is standing in, however, represents the reality. No matter how many times he changes his identity, runs away, or forges checks, he will always be just a sixteen year old kid with divorced parents. The shadow is also the looming possibility that he’ll get caught. Whenever the FBI are around, Frank is always seen hiding in the shadows: behind a curtain, behind a door, right around the corner… he’s always just one step away from being found out. Deep inside, Frank knows that he needs to stop. He even begs his own father, Frank Abegnale Sr. to tell him to stop, but it’s clear that he has come to far. Frank Abegnale Jr. is a boy that’s stuck in the in-between. He can’t live in the warm light of the American Dream because everything about himself is fake and made-up, but he’s not quite swallowed up in the darkness either. He’s a boy who has thrown his childhood away for a chance to chase the life he could have had, living in the shadows to avoid the consequences. In that sense, Frank is kind of tragic character, not quite fitting in anywhere.