Is the Great American Songbook still being written? The so-called Great American Songbook is defined as a canon of the memorable “standards” of popular song that helped to define American culture in the first half of the 20th century. Its great composers included Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Jerome Kern. These songwriters’ names were just as well-known as the names of famous singers, because it was an age when the song stood proudly independent from the performer. Standards such as “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael would be uniquely recorded by many singers, from Frank Sinatra to Doris Day to Nat King Cole. One of the last songs to receive such multi-artist treatment was Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” (1965), the most recorded song in history, with over 4,000 versions by everyone…
World-renowned acting coach Michael Chekhov (nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov) said that the main thing missing from most modern theater productions is “atmosphere.”
By “atmosphere,” he meant that rare, mystical feeling generated by all great works of art. A work with atmosphere becomes a world unto itself and creates a longing in the soul, as well as a desire to revisit. It’s as if a living being with personality inhabits or overshadows that statue, play, book, painting, and so on.
Director Wes Anderson created a bit of this type of atmosphere in 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”
The time is 1965, and the location is mostly Rhode Island, with some Narragansett thrown in. Twelve-year-old Sam (Jared Gilman), an orphan in foster care,聽 goes AWOL from the Khaki Scouts. Twelve-year-old Suzy (Kara Hayward), daughter of estranged parents and lover of girl-centric adventure novels, runs away from home.
They had met by chance in a community pageant and, to describe it in today’s terms, took down each other’s info and started writing snail-mail letters to each other. After a year of that, they decide to meet in a field.
They have a wondrous adventure, at once mundane and magical. They camp and cook. He demonstrates his Scout skills鈥攈e’s got a pocket knife, air rifle, and a Davy Crockett coonskin cap! She looks pretty in pink, brings a kitten, and reads books to him. They jump in the lake, dance to her portable record player, and attempt a kiss. It’s immensely adorable.
Meanwhile, Captain Sharp, the sheriff (Bruce Willis), and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), as well the girl’s hysterical parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), go searching for Sam and Suzy. Also joining the search is a rather vicious Scout pack with a mob mentality. A major rainstorm rolls in!
Someone gets hit by lightning, and survives! It gets rather chaotic all around. A bearded Bob Balaban plays the narrator.
Reminiscent of Anderson’s 2009 “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” and also of the 1986 rite-of-passage film “Stand by Me,” it is, however, a bit confusing at first. One wonders what kind of film it’s trying to be. Is it a comedy? Is it for children only? It’s obviously very trademark-Anderson-stylized.
Kids will love it certainly, but for their parents, it turns out to be a rather heartwarming walk down memory lane. “Moonrise Kingdom” re-creates a child’s-eye view of the early 1960s, when the ’60s still contained much of the ’50s.
It unpacks and dusts off childhood memories of tents, treehouses,聽 secret maps, campfires, innocent conversations, and performing theater in grade-school assemblies. It’s a magical lens that captures the joy of first-ever experiences, and purity. And all around is atmosphere.
The two newcomer 12-year-olds, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, have great kid-chemistry, and this movie was about as strong a foundation as one could have for each of them to eventually become a permanent fixture in the acting industry.
Wes Anderson’s humor manifests often in his use of well-timed sight gags, but what’s he ultimately trying to say here? The children are loners and outcasts, and the earnest, brutally truthful Sam with his inquisitive mind and hilarious self-loathing is the movie’s main attraction. Suzy is occasionally (and hilariously) disturbingly violent, as the pursuing聽mob-mentality scouts are unfortunate enough to experience.
Both Sam and Suzy are, in the awkward and universal ways of 12-year-olds, morose and self-aware, but they’re fairly OK with all of that; each has a strong sense of, if not purpose, then destiny.聽 The parents and adults, in contrast, are compromised, sad, and clueless.
Maybe it’s as simple as this: If you take a risk to follow your destiny, you’ll discover true love waiting at the end of the road. Or maybe in a field. It’s definitely inspiring. And all around is atmosphere.
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Release Date: June 29, 2012
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Focus News: Popcorn and Inspiration: ‘Moonrise Kingdom’: Sweet Nostalgia for American Innocence
The White House would prefer to see a tax on capital gains cut to 15 percent, said adviser Larry Kudlow, who noted that President Donald Trump will not cut them by way of an executive order. “We are looking at middle-class income tax cuts and capital gains tax cuts to spur investment and jobs and liquidity,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. He added: “In another era, we used to call them tax cuts 2.0. The president has never lost those thoughts,” while adding that Joe Biden, the president’s 2020 rival, would raise taxes. Kudlow said that it’s imperative that legislators in Congress work to come up with a cut to capital gains taxes, adding that it’s “not part” of any Trump executive order or plans on…