‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and other new video releases

By Gary Clift

There may be a lot of recent movies that will be making their first appearances on home viewing media this month, but I really only want to see one of them again, and that’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” It is my favorite new movie of the year so far.

Made by quirky Wes Anderson, who also gave us “The Royal Tannenbaums” and “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” it has his patented seriocomic tone. The cast, which includes Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swanson, Harvey Keitel, and a platoon of very talented teenagers, gives us an episode dressed out of the L.L. Bean catalog of 1963. As a hurricane approaches the Scout camps on a Maine island, young Suzy and Sam run off together to, among other things, secretly re-enact “The March” of the historic Chickshaw tribe.  The movie comments on growing up and leaves the viewer living in the tone of Anderson’s magic world. Good stuff.

Compare that to, say, “That’s My Boy,” the latest Adam Sandler comedy. Here the comedian plays a man who was seduced at age thirteen by an older teacher. Now the teacher is still in jail, Sandler’s character needs money, and a t.v. promoter is offering to pay him for reuniting with his now twenty-something son. Pedophilia isn’t much of a subject for comedy.

The straight horror movie of the month is “Chernobyl Diaries,” about a set of young people who go on an “extreme tour” to visit the town by the damaged reactors. Imagine what sorts of monsters lurk in the dark there.

“Magic Mike” drew large crowds of women by offering them a story about a team of Foridian male strippers lead by Matthew McConaughey and including the actor known as Tatam Channing or Channing Tatum. The movie can’t have seemed very sexy to its audience, but its cast does include rising star Cody Horn, whose father is chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

“Magic Mike” made more commercial sense to me than did “Dark Shadows,” a remake by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp, of a 1960s soap opera (about a vampire) that no one alive will admit to having seen broadcast. The upside here is that Alice Cooper appears singing “Ballad of Dwight Fry.” At the time, that number was a lot bigger than the t.v. show. And no wonder.

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” has an important moment dominated by an even older pop song, The Walker Brother’s “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” And it won’t, either, as the movie is about how characters played by Steve Carell and Keira Knightley adjust to the impending destruction of Earth by becoming friends. This one had me all the way through.

And you know, “Medea’s Witness Protection” may be the best Tyler Perry comedy in a while, or maybe my standards are slipping. The vast female impersonator hosts the harassed family of Eugene Levy’s character, and straightens them all out though intimidation.

The “graphic novel” turned movie “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” was made on such a small scale that it didn’t give its concept a real chance. And the concept is ridiculous. You see, when the abolitionists referred to slave owners as “vampires,” they weren’t speaking metaphorically. Or so this unintentionally silly movie suggests.

Then the word “people” has a special meaning in the decent film “People Like Us.” A young man discovers his recently deceased father had a secret love child. Chris Pine is the man and Olivia “13” Wilde is his love interest. Their work is a bit ahead of the writing.

In “Prometheus,” Ridley Scott gives us a sort of parallel version of the reality in his “Alien.” But the story is the same as in “Forbidden Planet” (which is to say, almost the same as in Shakespeare’s The Tempest), but with Michael Fassbender instead of Robbie the Robot.

Also appearing on d.v.d. for the first time this month are “The Campaign,” “Rock of Ages,” “Madagascar 3,” and “2016, Obama’s America,” popular general release movies I didn’t see on the big screen. Personally, I think I’ll watch “Moonrise Kingdom” again instead of taking a chance on any of them.

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