Wes Anderson popped on the movie scene with "Bottle Rocket", a little seen film co-written with his pal Owen Wilson about a robbery. It was a bit off the beaten path of the norm, but still very interesting.


His next film was his first use of Bill Murray... "Rushmore"... a film that won Murray accolades and thus the continued director/actor relationship between the two. This relationship would develop into a working circle of inclusion with Owen Wilson (and his brother Luke), Roman Coppola (and other members of the Coppola family) and Jason Schwartzman.


It is a circle of friends who seem to have a precise idea of what makes comedy... comedy. This idea is agreeable to whomever is cast - be it Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Meryl Streep, George Clooney or Tilda Swinton. Anderson always gets his talent to embrace the concept that there is no such thing as a small role. Evidenced by the fact that many of more notable names seem comfortable in mush lessor support roles.

"Moonrise Kingdom" is Anderson's latest film and once again delves into a fanciful world where nobody really grows up.


This time the place is the fictitious New England island of New Penzance circe 1965. The island is only 16 miles long, with seemingly few residences. However, few seem to know each other.


We begin with the Bishop family with father Walt (Bill Murray), mom Laura (Frances McDormand) eldest daughter Suzy (Kara Hayward) and two younger sons. Suzy spends most of her time looking at life through binoculars so she can see things close up. She is, in every word already an eccentric eschewing most child affairs and focusing more on classical music (which she listens to on her close and play phonograph) and reading books about far away places. She is not happy at home and her parents already consider her temperamental.


On the other side of the island is Sam (Jared Gilman), an orphan who spends the majority of his time as a Khaki Ranger scout under the leadership of Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) - a man whose entire life seems to revolve around his troop of scouts. But Sam is really into scouting though he is despised by his fellow scouts. He is an outsider. An outsider to the point even his foster parents don't want him back, though he seems harmless.

But New Penzance is an island community that does exist well outside of what it considers normal - they prefer steady and don't adjust well to unexpected shits in the paradigm. So when Sam takes off - escapes as he put it - in a miniature canoe. No one really knows quite what to do - even though the island is only 16 miles long.


The island policeman Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) sets out to look for the boy, while Scout Master Ward gathers up the rest of the scout (remember, they don't like Sam) to look for Sam.


What is soon discovered is that Sam and Suzy have both runaway and met up to be with each other. They are in love - in a weird way.


Sam is packed with appropriate camping gear and Suzy fully decked out with luggage filled with books, the phonograph and batteries to operate the phonograph.

The island is now in a dither and because Sam is a ward of the state, Social Services (Tilda Swinton) is called in so she can reassign Sam to another foster home. She is the only one with a sense of what she is doing.


Shot in muted earth tones and pastels, Anderson creates an island that is more in a dream state with perfectly cast talent that moves in and out of this off-kilter dream state flawlessly. Even a moment of tragedy comes and goes without lingering.


This is very much a coming of age movie without anyone really coming of age. There are moments of boy/girl physical consciousness between Sam and Suzy that remain inno-

cent enough. Murray, Norton, McDormand and Willis successfully portray the adults with childlike nuances. Hayward and Gilman create deadpan comical chemistry very rare for young actors


"Moonrise Kingdom" is immediately the best film of the year so far and a welcome relief from all the special effects-filled summer blockbusters.   -- GEOFF BURTON