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Category: Wes Anderson

Cannes 2012: ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ aims to restore Wes Anderson’s crown

May 17, 2012 |  1:18 pm

CANNES, France — It was close to 1 a.m Thursday morning when Bill Murray began pulling randoms into the dancing circle. Just a few hours before, Murray’s “Moonrise Kingdom” — his latest collaboration with American oddball auteur Wes Anderson — had opened the Cannes Film Festival, and the actor, looking blond and sweaty, wanted to let loose at the afterparty.

Joining arms with several co-stars — including Tilda Swinton and Jared Gilman, the bespectacled pubescent star of the summer-camp movie — Murray led a group of both the willing and the surprised in a rousing round of Greek-style dancing. Save for a Sean Penn moment when he appeared to push a young French woman who had tried to take a photo of Gilman (“Very violent,” the partygoer said, looking annoyed as she walked away), the often-taciturn Murray seemed genuinely happy.

Whether there will be as much joy around the eccentric comedy when Focus Features releases it May 25 remains to be seen.

Anderson struggled with both longtime fans and at the box office with his last two films, the India-set family dramedy “The Darjeeling Limited” and the animated, George Clooney-voiced “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

“Kingdom” takes him in another new direction — the 1960s-set tale centers on two misfits (Gilman and Kara Hayward) who run away into the New England woods one summer, causing angst in many of the dysfunctional adults around them (Ed Norton, Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis, all speaking perfect Anderson-ese). It’s Anderson’s most child-centric movie yet and, to some, his sweetest.

Despite the new terrain, Anderson throws at the screen many of his trademarks — painterly shots, flat affect, quirk-riddled adults. Their presence is likely to evoke "The Royal Tenenbaums," a comparison Anderson would likely welcome: The 2001 movie grossed more than $50 million and solidified his status as a major American director.

That "Moonrise" not only marked Anderson's Cannes debut but was given the prestigious opening-night slot — where jury chief Nanni Moretti and others were brought out ahead of the screening — gives it an extra bit of gloss.

Word-of-mouth throughout the festival Thursday was positive, though talk of “it’s good” often came with  “well, it's at least better than his last few."

As the party unfolded shortly after the black-tie screening, bartenders doled out drinks dressed in khaki summer-camp uniforms while a carnival game allowed well-dressed revelers to fishhook a rubber-ducky for prizes. It was a lighter celebration than many Cannes opening-night affairs. Anderson can only hope he continues to have something to celebrate.


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Cannes 2012: Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" to open fest

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Moonrise Kingdom." Credit: Focus Features.

Cannes 2012: Festival turns 65 with a lineup heavy on U.S. titles

May 16, 2012 |  5:00 am

Cannes Film Festival

If all film festivals are balancing acts, it stands to reason that the annual extravaganza at Cannes, likely the world's most celebrated cinematic event, has more to balance than most. Especially this year.

Opening Wednesday night with Wes Anderson's oddly endearing “Moonrise Kingdom,” Cannes is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year and marking that milestone by embracing all kinds of opposites: old and young, dramatic and documentary, commercial and politically committed, avant-garde and classic, even American and not.

The U.S. presence seems especially strong, starting with the official poster, an Otto Bettmann photo of a luminous Marilyn Monroe blowing out a birthday cake candle. An 80- by 40-foot version looms impossibly large on an outside wall of the Palais des Festivals, while the building's inside walls feature photos of other Hollywood luminaries, including Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and Judy Garland, even Marlene Dietrich and Ernst Lubitsch, having a go at birthday cakes of their own.

Cheat Sheet: Cannes Film Festival 2012

On one level, American films are thick in the main competition, with a roster that includes new movies by Lee Daniels, who is following his Oscar-winning drama “Precious” with “The Paperboy,” and Jeff Nichols, whose “Mud” comes after the acclaimed apocalyptic meditation “Take Shelter.”

But some of the most eagerly anticipated American films — Walter Salles' take on Jack Kerouac's legendary “On the Road,” Andrew Dominik's Brad Pitt-starring “Killing Them Softly” (based on George V. Higgins' “Cogan's Trade”) and John Hillcoat's Prohibition era “Lawless” — were all directed by filmmakers who hail from other countries.

Speaking of elsewhere, new films are also on offer from such stalwarts as France's Jacques Audiard (“Rust & Bone”), Italy's Matteo Garrone (“Reality,” following up on “Gomorrah”), Britain's Ken Loach (“The Angels' Share”) and Austria's Michael Haneke (the Isabelle Huppert-starring “Amour”).

The honor of being the oldest director in the competition goes to 89-year-old Alain Resnais, here with the puckishly titled “You Haven't Seen Anything Yet.” Considerably younger, with films in the Un Certain Regard section, are debuting Americans Adam Leon, whose “Gimme the Loot” took the grand jury prize at this year's South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, and Benh Zeitlin, whose “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did the same at Sundance in January.

Straddling the young-old divide in a personal way are Canadian director David Cronenberg, in competition with the Robert Pattinson-starring “Cosmopolis” from the Don DeLillo novel, and his son Brandon, in Un Certain Regard with the thriller “Antiviral.”

Though the world's artier directors are always to be found at the festival, Cannes is also determined to embroil itself in the commercial side of things, which it does by scheduling the animated adventure “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted” in an out-of-competition slot.

Then there are the numerous billboards for features that dot the city's streets and the fronts of hotels. Most noticeable this year is the way names that were considered edgy once upon a time have now become commercial enough to merit major-league spending.

Billboards could be seen not only for Quentin Tarantino's “Django Unchained” but also for Harmony Korine's “Spring Breakers.” And who should look right at home in the prime real estate of the entrance to the Carlton Hotel but Sacha Baron Cohen in full Admiral General Aladeen regalia for his satirical comedy “The Dictator.” Thus pass the bad boys of the world.

Perhaps even more startling, however, is the recent announcement from Canada's Alliance Films that it would charge Canadian journalists for interview access to the stars of some of the company's films.

If this is starting to sound all too frivolous, Cannes has political antidotes all ready to go. There will be a special screening of “The Oath of Tobruk,” Bernard-Henri Levy's doc about the fall of Moammar Kadafi, with “four key figures of the Libyan revolution” in attendance.

Closer to home is “The Central Park Five,” a quietly devastating documentary co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband, David McMahon, that examines how and why five innocent teenagers ended up being convicted of and imprisoned for the savage rape of a jogger in New York's Central Park in a case that became an international media sensation.

If you view film as a refuge from the cares of the real world, Cannes is ready for you as well. The ever-expanding Cannes Classics section features an impressive variety of restorations, including Alfred Hitchcock's silent “The Ring,” a 4-hour, 13-minute reconstruction of Sergio Leone's “Once Upon a Time in America” and Andrei Konchalovsky's aptly named “Runaway Train.”

Also, there are master class lectures by director Philip Kaufman (here with HBO's “Hemingway & Gellhorn” starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen) and 97-year-old Norman Lloyd, who has seen a lot (he co-founded the Mercury Theater with Welles) and remembers it all.


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— Kenneth Turan

Photo: A giant canvas of the official poster of the 65th Cannes Film Festival featuring Marilyn Monroe. Credit: Stephane Reix / EPA.

Cannes 2012: Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' to open fest

March 8, 2012 |  9:44 pm

Bruce Willis in "Moonrise Kingdom"

For the second year in a row, the Cannes Film Festival is opening with an American comedy: The festival has announced that Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" will kick off the annual cinephile gathering May 16.

Unlike last year's opener of Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," however, this year's  film will come from a director who's never brought a feature to the Croisette. Anderson, the Texas-raised auteur known for offbeat comedies such as "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums," typically opens films in the fall and brings them to late-summer and early autumn film confabs. Focus Features brings out "Moonrise" on May 25 in the U.S., with the film coming out in France the same week as its Cannes bow.

Set in the 1960's, "Kingdom" centers on two young lovers who run away, with the small town they left behind in a tizzy about their disappearance.

Anderson mainstays Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman star in "Moonrise Kingdom," as do Anderson newbies Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis and Edward Norton. The young couple is played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.

The opening-night slot proved golden for "Midnight," which turned out to be a huge crossover hit. This year, world cinema observers will be keen to see how the Europeans react to Anderson's dry, often absurdist wit, though the local press will no doubt be enthralled by the large number of stars who can walk the opening-night carpet.

Anderson is coming off a somewhat odd career stretch, most recently making a foray into animation with "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and previously directing the tepidly received India travel tale "The Darjeeling Limited."

In a statement, Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux announced that "Wes Anderson is one of the rising powers of American cinema, to which he brings a highly personal touch, particularly in 'Moonrise Kingdom,' which once again is a testimony to the creative freedom in which he continues to evolve. Sensitive and independent, this admirer of Fellini and Renoir is also in his own right a brilliant and inventive filmmaker."

The Cannes Film Festival runs through May 27, and this year is also expected to include a roster of other renowned U.S. filmmakers. The full slate will be announced April 19.


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New Wes Anderson movie coming to theaters

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Bruce Willis in "Moonrise Kingdom." Credit: Focus Features

New Wes Anderson film heading to theaters

May 2, 2011 |  6:28 pm

Wes Anderson fans yearning to see a new live-action film from the director will be satisfied: His upcoming “Moonrise Kingdom” has been acquired by a U.S. distributor.

Worldwide rights to the movie have been acquired by Focus Features, and the film will be brought out in the U.S. after it’s completed, the company said Monday. Shooting has just gotten underway, which means it could be some, but not an inordinately long, time before audiences can see it.

The 1960s-set film tells of a young boy and girl on a coastal New England city who run away together, with the town then thrown into chaos looking for them. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play the boy and girl, with Bruce Willis as a sheriff, Edward Norton as a camp leader and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand playing the girl's parents.

Anderson last brought out a live-action movie in 2007, with the India-set dysfunctional-family comedy “The Darjeeling Limited.” (In 2009 he came with the offbeat animated picture "Fantastic Mr. Fox.") "Moonrise" marks the director’s first return to period storytelling since “The Royal Tenenbaums” a decade ago.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Wes Anderson on the set of "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Credit: Greg Williams/Fox Searchlight Pictures


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