Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Moonrise Kingdom at the Fair Oaks Theater
I spent my wonder years, from age five to nine, in a small town on the Central California Coast called Arroyo Grande.
The great cultural center of the town at that time, exposing me to the wider world with its history and music and narratives, was a second-run movie theater called the Fair Oaks. Astonishingly enough, the place still exists fifty-plus years later, and my sister dragged me to a matinee there this weekend of the latest Wes Anderson whimsy, Moonrise Kingdom, about a bunch of "khaki scouts," a pubescent romance, and some deeply unhappy adults. I found myself crying through the last half of the film not because of the story or images, which were fine, but on account of Benjamin Britten's music, which is used perfectly throughout.
The credits start with The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra with its explanatory narration, a performance of the church parable Noye's Fludde which is where our protagonists meet cute, and continues with snatches of the boy sopranos Fairies' Choruses from the opera A Midsummer Night's Dream, and snippets from a song cycle called Friday Afternoons. This is great music that deepens every scene which it accompanies.
Hearing one of my favorite composers at this primal, favorite movie theater was an unexpected joy. The next day on Amtrak north to San Francisco continued the mood as two thirds of the Coast Starlight train were Boy Scout troops traveling to or from some Jamboree. It felt like I was still at the movie. The adult troop leaders were as dweeby as Edward Norton, and there was even a group of kids that was being mean to a gawky pubescent blonde boy who they kept trying to ditch, even though a scoutmaster insisted that nobody was to be left alone without a "buddy," or they might end up sitting alone next to somebody like me. (He didn't say the latter, but you could see it in his frightened eyes.)