Moonrise Kingdom: A Review of Sorts

I knew we’d get in trouble. We knew people would be worried, but we did it anyway. But something also happened, when we first met. Something that we didn’t do on purpose. Something happened, to us.

There is nothing I love more than a good love story, especially one saturated in Wes Anderson’s signature style, and Moonrise Kingdom did not disappoint. Much like Anderson’s other movies, he instills that retro-cool look that will make you feel both nostalgic and unexplainably content, in a way that serves as a reminder: Nobody can pull off Wes Anderson, but Wes Anderson.

A romantic dramedy of sorts, Moonrise Kingdom is set during the year 1965 on a New England island and follows the romance of two star-crossed 12 year-olds, Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) and Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman). The two bond over their outside statuses—Suzy, as the anger-prone black sheep of her family, and Sam, an orphan whose quirky behaviors have not gone over well with various foster parents—and over a one year time span formulate a plan to run away together. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but you can expect a narrative plotline that only Wes Anderson (along with Roman Coppola) could dream up.

I don’t care how they do it where you come from.

You want pop? You want candy? You want a snake-bite kit? Get some money.

Bill Murray and Frances McDormand play Suzy’s lawyer-parents; Edward Norton plays Scout Master Ward, the Khaki Scout troop leader for Sam’s troop on the island; and Bruce Willis stars as the town’s sheriff with a good heart. Tilda Swinson, Harvey Keitel, and Jason Schwartzman (who always has a way of stealing my heart) all are featured as well in lesser roles.

On this spot I will fight no more forever.

It’s worth mentioning the music Anderson uses throughout the film, most notably the use of Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Hank Williams tracks. The soundtrack choices fit in remarkably well with each scene.

Why do you always use binoculars?

It helps me see things closer, even if they’re not far away. I pretend it’s my magic power.

Of course, I had to include a million pictures, because words cannot describe the detailing Anderson puts into each scene. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be seeing this movie in the theatre again, there is simply no way to take in all the majestic, dynamic Anderson characterizations in only one viewing. Go see it now.


Paper Money = College Throwback

Hey ya’ll (yinz, Pittsburgh?….). This is a short that I helped produce my senior year of college in a directing class that just resurfaced onto the internet via a co-producer’s Vimeo account. Up until now it was an urban legend and I was starting to think I was having an Andy Warhol moment (“I don’t know where the artificial stops and the real begins”) about whether or not it was ever actually made. Thankfully I realized that the only Warhol thing about it was the fact that our short was tailored to be 80s-tastic…aka, I played a hell of a lot of NES.

I hope you find it enjoyable!

<p><a href=”″>Paper Money</a> from <a href=””>Matthew Beck</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Buon giorno, Principessa!

Guido habitually calls Dora his ‘principessa’ throughout the movie. In this scene, he and his son (on the men’s side of the concentration camp) are using the unattended intercom system to send a message to Dora that they are still alive.

La vita e bella (1997), or Life Is Beautiful, is an Italian motion picture from the wonderful writer, director and actor, Roberto Benigni. Benigni somehow creates a film that is both humorous and heartbreaking. It is set in 1930s Italy and Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a goofy and lovable Jewish book keeper. The first part of the movie follows Guido’s comedic attempts at snagging his wife, the lovely Dora, played by Benigni’s real life wife, Nicoletta Braschi. Of course, the two’s chemistry comes out on the screen, and there is no feasible way to not become invested in the two characters and their adorable son, Giosué (Giorgio Cantarini). The lighthearted first half of the movie isn’t without dark undertones—this is the time of the Holocaust—anti-Semitism, uncertain fear, and the Nazi party are tearing the Orefice’s Italian village apart. And here’s the kicker—Dora is not Jewish, but is the child of a prominent and wealthy Italian Roman Catholic couple. Therefore, when the Nazis report to the Orefice’s home to gather Guido, his son, and Guido’s uncle, Dora makes the ultimate sacrifice and forces the German soldiers to let her board the train with her family, and the four are transported to a concentration camp.

If I get too far until the second part of the movie, I would ruin all sorts of wonderful moments for you, so I hope you’ll soon view the film in its entirety. I have never seen a film that has made me laugh as much as it has made me cry (and it takes a special type of movie for me to have such an all-over emotional reaction). I admit that it was a risky move to make a comedy about the Holocaust, but I promise you that it is done brilliantly. It is an exhibition of the power of unconditional love among a family and I have no doubt that you will come to view Guido as the greatest husband and father that has ever graced the big screen. Benigni is a genius for accurately illustrating the phrase ‘Amor Vincit Omnia.’

Guido pretends to know German and is “translating” the German officer’s orders. He volunteers in order to keep his son believing that their time in the concentration camp is actually a game, with the prize at the end being a military tank. In true little boy fashion, Giosué loves tanks.

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated (the novel, not as much the movie), by Jonathan Safran Foer, is an intricate tale woven together by generations of voices, deceit, and mystery. The novel is written in a very unique style, which either leads one to hate it or love it. I love it. The book also contains some of the most beautiful blocks of quotations that I love reading over and over again. All the accompanied images are still images from the movie.

“This is love, she thought, isn’t it? When you notice someone’s absence and hate that absence more than anything? More, even, than you love his presence?”

“Do you think I’m wonderful? she asked him one day as they leaned against the trunk of a petrified maple. No, he said. Why? Because so many girls are wonderful. I imagine hundreds of men have called their loves wonderful today, and it’s only noon. You couldn’t be something that hundreds of others are.”

“He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others–the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.

“You are the only one who has understood even a whisper of me, and I will tell you that I am the only person who has understood even a whisper of you.”

“Love itself became the object of her love. She loved herself in love, she loved loving love, as love loves loving, and was able, in that way, to reconcile herself with a world that fell so short of what she would have hoped for.”

“…This is a kiss. It is what happens when lips are puckered and pressed against something, sometimes other lips, sometimes a cheek, sometimes something else. It depends…This is my heart. You are touching it with your left hand, not because you are left-handed, although you might be, but because I am holding it against my heart. What you are feeling is the beating of my heart. It is what keeps me alive.”

And one for fun:

“This is the sixty-nine,” I told him, presenting the magazine in front of him. I put my fingers — two of them — on the action, so that he would not overlook it. “Why is it dubbed sixty-nine?” he asked, because he is a person hot on fire with curiosity. “It was invented in 1969. My friend Gregory knows a friend of the nephew of the inventor.” “What did people do before 1969?” “Merely blowjobs and masticating box, but never in chorus.”

Up!, or a how romance became animation

If you haven’t seen Up, then we have a lot more to work on. This animated film is beautiful. It has been a favorite of mine for awhile; every since I saw the first few minutes I knew that I would never be able to forget it. Pixar has created something that literally means going the lengths to live out a dream that was born out of love. I think we should all be so lucky to have somebody be willing to float a house with multi-colored balloons to the one place that exists only in our dreams.

Thanks for the adventure, now go have one of your own