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Summer Joy: Moonrise Kingdom, Yellow Submarine and My Life as a Zucchini

Ready for some summer joy?

So far, this summer has been perfect: warm days, cool nights, thunderstorms and comparative freedom. (A heat wave is coming, at which point I will hide.) Also perfect is the balance I’ve struck between obsessing over Twin Peaks Season 3 and some lighter, positively joyous, fare. Over the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, My Life as a Zucchini and Yellow Submarine. All of them are visual knockouts with charming stories.

The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is probably lightest on story. Psychedelic animated music videos alternate together with silly puns and tomfoolery as the Fab Four journey to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies. While John, Paul and George joke, gibe and insult the people around them, superior in their grooviness, Ringo befriends the uncool Nowhere Man. Their friendship is the core of the film. This movie remains beautiful to me every time I see it, and this time I was struck by an early sequence of industrial Liverpool at daybreak. Simply done, but breathtaking.

My Life as a Zucchini (French title Ma Vie de Courgette) tells the story of a little boy called Courgette who suddenly finds himself an orphan. The story and music are lovely, and the visuals are astonishing, quirky, funny and sweet.  All of us have the fears these kids do even if our stories aren’t as extreme as theirs, and they show a lot of heart as they make the most of what they have. I saw this alone, but I imagine kids would love it–and their adults will too.

And last but first is Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.  I love Anderson’s visual worlds and the weird but sincere people who live in them. This story centers on two teen misfits who fall in love and run away. But the course of true love never did run smooth… The stylized compositions, a color palette like a faded Polaroid, maze-like locations and manic chases reminded me of the visuals of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The writing and acting here are similarly terrific. These were first performances for both the kids. Amazing. I especially enjoyed Bruce Willis, cast against type as a forlorn and gentle local lawman. Some people complain that Anderson’s movies try way too hard, but what’s wrong with that when it succeeds like this? I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Be sure to leave a comment with any joyful, charming films you’ve seen recently. I want more!

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