On Childhood, Adventure, and Imagined (Cinematic) Places

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13 September 2012

A wonderfully written double-review in this week’s NYRB of the summer’s two best movies — Benh Zeitlin‘s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD and Wes Anderson‘s MOONRISE KINGDOM.  I wish Geoffrey O’Brien‘s piece was not pay-walled, though.  Perhaps one can register with the NYRB for free?  I hope so…

I feel stronger about BEASTS than about MOONRISE; I am reminded of an interview with U.S. Open Champion Andy Murray on Charlie Rose the other night, where the phrase “complete game” kept coming up.  Murray’s opponent, Novac Djokovic, has power, athleticism, consistency; but Murray has variety, nimbleness, the full array of skills.  BEASTS is sprawling and intense, fantastical and hyper-real, equally emotional and physical in its approach to the spectacular; the film’s action, for me, feels integral — both cause and effect in relation to the characters and the world Zeitlin conjures.  The action in MOONRISE feels at times (especially at the end) like a mere vehicle to showcase Anderson’s imaginative reach, as manifest in visual and verbal style.  Both films, at any rate, well worth seeing.

I am teaching a course of the literature of childhood this term; and writing/thinking constantly about “sense of place,” as an editor at The Common.  So both these films, and O’Brien’s review, hit all kinds of chords.  Will be writing more about all of the above soon…

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