Tag Archives: Bill Murray

“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012) – Movie Review

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Director:  Wes Anderson

Writers:  Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Stars:  Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton

Though I am a fan of the look of Wes Anderson’s live-action films, I am not a fan of their stories–Royal Tenenbaums the exception.  Moonrise Kingdom will also be an exception.  It is a modern fairy tale set in the 60s, and the time & setting work to Anderson’s strengths–perfectly constructed and choreographed worlds.

The story begins with multiple tracking shots through Suzy’s (Kara Haywood) house on the island of New Penzance.  The feel of the shot is similar to looking through the backend of a doll house where all the rooms face the front.  We quickly learn Suzy comes from a family that believes in education & culture, has three younger brothers, has parents that are possibly having issues, and she has issues as well–always with her binoculars and always looking for something.

Next, we don’t meet Sam (Jared Gilman).  It’s morning at Camp Ivanhoe of the Khaki Scouts.  As Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) walks-thru the camp during the morning ritual he performs spot inspections, minor disciplinary actions, and settles for the morning breakfast with the troop.  At breakfast he learns Sam is missing by his empty chair.  He and the troop head to Sam’s tent and enter.  Perplexed by how the tent could be empty because the zipper was closed from the inside, he soon finds a hole cut through the tent behind a map of the island.  Scout Master Ward then calls the Sheriff, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), to tell him about the missing scout.  Later Sam & Suzy meet in a meadow and continue their journey together on the island.

That night during dinner at Suzy’s house, her mother Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) is told by one of her sons Suzy is missing and has run-off.  After telling her husband Walt (Bill Murray) they are visited by Captain Sharp in his search for Sam.  Quickly Laura discovers both children are together when she finds a collection of letters & water colors detailing their relationship and plan to get together.  What follows is a journey of young love, tired adults trying to find purpose and do what is right, and the challenge of keeping Sam away from the hands of the Social Services (Tilda Swinton).

This is easily the most identifiable and relatable of Wes Anderson’s films.  Though the world is idealized and you know it will have a happy ending, you can connect with each of the characters and where they are coming from.  All the main adult characters are well-developed, and also take their journeys as they search for Sam & Suzy.  Captain Sharp realizes the loneliness & monotony of his life and does something about.  The fastidious & meek Scout Master Ward gains confidence and takes charge during a crisis.  Laura & Walt know something has to change in their marriage for better or worse before it leaves them hollow inside.

But most important this is about Sam & Suzy finding each other and who they are.  Too young to have the happily ever after ending of most fairy tales we have been accustomed to, we know the kids will be all right.  More importantly, we know that Sam & Suzy are what they need for each other now but not necessarily forever.

The acting across the board is solid.  The success of the film rests solidly on the shoulders of Gilman & Haywood, and they deliver.  Their interactions together are sweet, endearing, and genuine.  These are two kids discovering romance with all the awkwardness and lack of self-consciousness that entails.  Gilman & Haywood also have a great chemistry together, and come across as two people who honestly care for each other.

The look and the feel of the movie is reminiscent of old sun washed-out photos.  The exterior scenes are over saturated and have a yellow tint.  The feel is like you what you visualize when your eyes are closed telling about your first kiss at summer camp.

Grade = A

“Zombieland” – DVD Review

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Director:  Ruben Fleisher

Writer:  Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Stars:  Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigal Breslin, and Bill Murray
It’s a sad commentary on the state of summer movies so far when my favorite movie to date is a movie that came out last year and I just watched on DVD.
Anyway, this is a great popcorn movie.  The script is great, movie well paced, and performances on target across the board.  The story is a comedic version of a postapocalyptic near future.  The Earth has been infected with a virus that causes people to turn into zombies once bitten.  We follow Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) as he heads East to find his family back home in Columbus, Ohio.  As he travels he teams up with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who wants to go back to…you guessed it, Tallahassee.  The characters use names of the cities they are either from or going to to identify each other–by doing so they hope to not develop emotion attachments to each other.  Along the way they get car jacked–twice–by sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigal Breslin).  This is their story on how they survive and become a family while fighting zombies and accidentally killing Bill Murray.
Jesse Eisenberg does the standard Jesse Eisenberg performance–which is the standard Michael Cera performance but with quicker dialogue and no hoodie.  He works well with Woody Harrelson and has good chemistry with Emma Stone.  Bill Murray is great as himself.
If you are a fan of Scott Pilgrim Saves the World, you’ll be a fan of Zombieland.  It has the same vive with the floating captions and quirky musical score. The main difference that makes this movie more enjoyable, though, is that it is more realistic–as zombie movies go.  You can relate to the characters and empathize with them.
You will not be disappointed if you put this on your Netflix queue.  While not fun for the whole family, everyone over thirteen will have a great time watching this film.
Grade: A
PS  The DVD extras are good as well.