So my budget is getting a little strained by all these nominations (and you know rent and food…) so it was an all Redbox week for me, but I saw some really great things that I had missed in theaters.
For the same reasons that it took me so long to see Beasts of the Southern Wild I resisted Moonrise Kingdom until this past Sunday, but I am so glad that I finally gave in. This movie is a strange little world unto itself, that I feel like I will be revisiting for the rest of my life. The two child actors Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are so delightfully disturbed and charming. Theirs is by far my favorite love story of this award’s season. I am usually not a huge fan of Wes Anderson, if anything I find myself begrudgingly liking him because I adore the actors he works with so much, but this movie has an innocence to it that counter balances his bizarre take on the world. Not to say that it isn’t itself bizarre, but it’s an earnest kind of weird, pretty much embodied in the quiet wonderful performances of Edward Norton and Bruce Willis.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to watch this movie, I had decided I wasn’t watching Frankenweenie, because I have a long-standing distaste for Tim Burton, and I had mentally lumped these two movies together. But I’m really glad I changed my mind. This is a charming little movie about how we shouldn’t judge each other, mixed in with an entertaining New England ghost story that reminded me of Hocus Pocus. The characters, especially the central “I see dead people” Norman and his best friend weirdo Neal, are charming, ably voiced, and easy to like. Aside from the fact that Norman’s mom’s face was weirdly squished I think the animation was done well, though I admit I’m not an expert on that at all. This movie was a pleasant surprise to me, I liked the anti-bullying message, but it didn’t come across as overly preachy which I guess increases its chances of an actual child liking it.
I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I was expecting to, but as Julia pointed out this probably had more to do with the fact that I was watching it on half my screen while working on a different blog post, but I think it mostly had to do with the big crush I have on all of the Helmsworth brothers (yes even the one engaged to Miley) and my love of brocaded dresses and new takes on folk tales. I also do not have any strong feelings against Kristin Stewart, though I agree she could be a bit more expressive, I have liked her in some other movies and I did not detest her in this.
That’s not to say that I liked this movie whole heartedly. My problems are a little critical theory-y so if you’re bored by that kind of thing you can skip down to the next paragraph. What bothered me about this movie was the way it presented itself as a feminist retelling of a story about a passive girl who needs a man to wake her. Snow White in this version does regain some agency and the ultimate conflict is fought by two strong women, but the politics of this movie as a whole were muddled at best. Charlize Theron’s Ravena’s obsession with staying youthful and the implication that the only power a woman has is her beauty, is meant I think to be something we judge as the root of her evil, but the film doesn’t make this point strongly enough. Especially because the “good” female character, Snow White’s, power is still completely based on her purity. Literally that’s the word they use, I think its supposed to be read as “purity of soul” but it seems a lot like virginity is to br prized above all else…but the dwarves were cool.
The concept of this movie is ridiculous, and the introduction of salmon fishing into Yemen (I’m American I’m leaving that ridiculous article off) as a PR move to somehow counter insurgent attacks in Afganistan…I think? The motivation was honestly fuzzy to me. For the first two-thirds of this movie I thought it was actually going to be a cute movie about Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt being friends. But I forgot that it is was a Hollywood studio movie (it’s from CBS Films even if it s British) and so of course it takes a turn into love story land. But it did really make me want to go to Scotland, and marry Ewan McGregor, though I’m not sure that was the goal.