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.)


Matty Boy said...

You changed the layout. Somewhat disconcerting.

Of course, you are the blogger and the first rule of blogging is "You aren't the boss of me." I see why you went with it, still it came as a surprise.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Matty:

The template I was using from Blogger was so old lots of stuff wasn't working anymore for people. So I updated to a new "Simple" template today. It's a work in progress. I'm even going to create a title collage in Photoshop tomorrow. Woo-hoo. I've also always wanted to have my own Blog List, and now I've finally got one that includes you. It's a work in progress, and feel free to kibbitz at any point.

Part of the reason was that I met a public relations woman with her husband and son at dinner on the train, and she said that search engines have decided to change their algorithms altogether, and one's mentions in the social media world were going to become paramount, so I decided it was time to give Facebook links a chance.

Sorry for the shock/disconcertingness.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

I'm loving the sleek, clean new look!

Michael Strickland said...

Ah, Patrick, you say the nicest things.

namastenancy said...

I love the new look - dynamic, sophisticated, cleanly elegant and yet, visually compelling. How's that for starters? I'm working on using one of the new templates myself but your layout is much better than mine - really eye catching. But then, I'm not the photographer that you are.

Markley Morris said...

I really love this film - it captures young kid craziness so perfectly. Beyond that, there's a family collection. My sister Helen Havens is an Episcopal priest and was rector of a church in the Montrose district of Houston for 25 years. Her husband Sandy is a theater director and often staged plays at the church. As a child Wes Anderson was a member of the congregation and at the age of 8 or so played an animal in Sandy's staging of Noye's Fludde - the medieval play on which Britten based his opera.

And a long time ago I went with you to a staging of a Benjamin Britten opera which we both loved. I'm trying to remember which opera it was. Maybe Midsummer Night's Dream?

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Nancy: Thanks for all those kind words.

Dear Markley: And of course you have a Wes Anderson connection. Love that he was in your brother-in-law's version of Noye's Fludde. Why isn't that piece done more often? It's the best music education imaginable for adults and childrens alike, and it's really fun. By the way, it was A Midsummer Night's Dream that we saw, but it sort of sucked, not the opera but the staging.