‘Moonrise’ Among Stars – The New York Times Talks ‘Kingdom’

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times filed her first report for this years Cannes Film Festival, and leads off with the opening night film:

CANNES, France — Sometime after the entree had been served at the opening-night dinner on Wednesday at the 56th Cannes Film Festival, after Harvey Weinstein had pumped half the hands in the room, and Wes Anderson, Bill Murray and Bruce Willis had entered to applause following the premiere of their film, “Moonrise Kingdom,” the pink lights were dimmed, and the waiters began weaving among the tables, carrying large, heavy blocks of illuminated ice. With their tiny interior lights glowing and embedded plastic cups holding haute cuisine soft-serve, it looked as if a fleet of toy U.F.O.’s were landing — or a deconstructed igloo. At Cannes, even dessert is a show.

“These are what we call art films,” Mr. Murray had said about Cannes several hours earlier at the news conference for “Moonrise Kingdom,” as the roomful of journalists knowingly cooed and laughed. Mr. Anderson, at Cannes for the first time, was seated dead center at an elevated table — the cast member Jason Schwartzman squeezed in at one end, with his colleagues Mr. Willis and Edward Norton knocking elbows toward the other — but the love soon gravitated to Mr. Murray. “I really don’t get any other work but through Wes,” he said, as if to explain his long working relationship with Mr. Anderson. The room laughed again.

And then Mr. Murray did what savvy celebrities sometimes do when they’re playing the game of up close and personal. He flattered the flatterers: “How did you people like the movie?”

We liked it just fine, some much more than others. A love story about two 12-year-old runaways, set in 1965, the film is one of Mr. Anderson’s supreme achievements: It’s wondrously beautiful, often droll and at times hauntingly melancholic. While the critics, reporters and programmers who packed into its first press screening on Wednesday morning didn’t respond with thunderous applause, neither were there any of the dreaded Cannes boos. The French seemed somewhat cool toward “Moonrise Kingdom.” Perhaps its scripted subtleties had been lost in translation, although the Cahiers du Cinéma critic gave it three of three stars in one poll. The Americans, many of whom will weigh in when it opens in the United States next Friday, seemed generally pleased.

To read Dargis’ full write-up of the first two days of Cannes, you may click here.