Moonrise Kingdom

My roommate, Nicole, invited me to the showing of Moonrise Kingdom as part of her birthday celebration. I had seen the trailer and gathered that it’s a film about two kids in New England who decide to runaway together. The film takes place in the sixties. I would have dismissed the movie if it wasn’t for the cast and the pretty movie trailer (and the 94% rotten tomatoes rating also helped). I swept aside my Asian guilt (I thought about spending this evening coding) and joined her and her friends for the movie showing.

Moonrise Kingdom, whose title sounds like a Chinese martial arts movie, is so pretty. It’s like candy to your eyes and ears. It’s so pretty that I wanted to take frames out of it and post it around my room. Every scene is like a vintage polaroid photo. An advertisement from the 60s. It’s as if Wes Anderson shot the movie through Instagram.

The plot is simple and yet each moment is full of innocence, wonderment, and adventure. And Wes Anderson  portrays children as complete human being with full mental faculty and emotional complexity! But frankly all that stands out in my memory is the color palette. The sepia and pink hues, the golden fields, washed out blues, red and green standing out against the desaturated background. There is such a decisive and consistent look throughout the film.

I guess one thing that slightly bothered me was the visual imagery of the night time scene. The rain is pouring and it’s the evening. And either the director or the post-production crew decided to blue-filter the sh#$ out of it. So everyone’s faces look blue. Like ghosts. I didn’t particularly like the look but maybe it was the look they were going for.

I appreciated that the film didn’t water down childhood. I find that childhood portrayed through Hollywood is either idealistic, fantastical, really sad and dreary, or some other end of the spectrum. The subtlety and complexity is usually entirely missing. Wes Anderson deals with it very delicately, being careful not to shift to the extremes I mentioned. And the acting from these kids is amazing. I loved the gaze of the main character (the girl). It’s always distant and full of meaning, and we can never really guess all that goes inside her head.

Overall, I loved it. Two hours well spent and coding could wait.

Caramel

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Ever since I heard about this movie, a foreign film from Lebanon that takes place in Beirut and written, acted, and directed by Nadine Labaki (a female director to boot), I wanted to see it but kept pushing it off. It came up again on my Netflix watch list so I finally decided to watch it tonight.

And it whirled me into its world: a small beauty salon in Beirut where people come to share their personal drama, joy, worries, and hopes. It’s a pastiche of different stories that involve women who work in the beauty salon and their frequent customers.

And you will never guess what the caramel is used for. Hint: it’s not for eating.

There are many poignant moments in the movie and what I appreciated the most was the honesty in which these poignant stories are shared. Unlike in Hollywood movies, where the story takes expected turns to satisfy the audience, Caramel has moments of disappointment, disillusionment, but ultimately hope. The beauty of life shown through its most mundane, every day moments. I loved it.

I was reminded of a quote from Gogol’s Dead Souls, which strangely fits this movie:

And for a long time yet, led by some wondrous power, I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone.