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The trailer for Wes Anderson’s first live-action film in five years, Moonrise Kingdom, was released online on the 12th of January and has re-ignited the same old arguments that plague all of the modern-day auteur’s work:
‘People don’t really talk like that!’
‘Everyone looks stupid!’
‘Bill Murray again?!’
Anybody who finds themselves uttering the words ‘Bill Murray again?!’ should obviously do the world a favour and ride away in a leaky boat, but the other criticisms are fair comment – even the most ardent of Anderson fans would agree (aside from the ‘boring’ one) that his films are sort of pretentious, sort of unrealistic, and sort of stupid, and it is for precisely these reasons that his films are so great. His films are artfully composed moving photographs that perfectly capture the mood of a time or place that is removed from our own in some way. Even the worst of his live-action films, The Darjeeling Limited, is still a stunning and moving piece of work that profoundly touches as much as it amuses and surprises.
One thing that Wes Anderson also does brilliantly is background detail – he gets his extras performing wonderful background actions that perfectly compliment what is happening in the foreground. It’s this Kubrickian attention to detail that lends Anderson the authenticity that his films thrive on – t’s the fusing of authenticity and artificiality that creates the unique Anderson style. That and the fact that his films are hysterically funny, in an incredibly subtle way. His films are rife with contradictions and mixtures that just shouldn’t work, but always do.
Bruce Willis and Ed Norton seem to be the star turns in this offering, providing uncharacteristically humorous performances as a local sheriff and and a Scout leader respectively. The problem is that his style is obviously divisive. It’s an incredibly affected and self-consciously odd style that always stops just shy of full-on bizarrity, but is never boring. Several shots in the trailer demonstrate the Anderson style brilliantly – the shot of Ed Norton in the tent, on one knee, socks pulled as far as they will go, talking to his Scouts; the boy writing his letter while some people lounge on a car in the garage in the background; Frances McDormand shouting with her megaphone indoors – by continuing this style, as it seems he is doing in his newest film, he is refusing to pander to those who don’t see the beauty in his work. This is good news for the fans, all of whom need more slightly stilted, slightly artificial but completely brilliant cinema in the way that only the unique talents of Wes Anderson can provide.