Out of the younger generation of movie directors currently working, Wes Anderson’s visual style is probably the most immediately recognizable: an individual frame from an Anderson movie can as often as not be identified, utterly without context, as belonging to his oeuvre. As anybody who has paid attention to independent cinema in the past ten to fifteen years surely knows, this idiosyncrasy of style has made Anderson beloved by many and loathed by almost as many, to the point where the release of one of his films generates a frankly ridiculous, and almost entirely unnecessary, wave of discussion about the cycles of irony surrounding his work and popular reception of it. What I mean to say by this is that it is generally expected that when you go to see a movie directed by Wes Anderson, you are not simply watching a film but participating in a reductive conversation about its reception that inevitably taints the movie-going experience and the film at hand - even for professed fans.
I can’t claim to have avoided this entirely while watching Moonrise Kingdom, his latest effort, particularly because several people had told me that they ranked it close to The Royal Tenenbaums in their canon of his films. In the wake of 2009’s utterly wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox, it was somewhat surreal to see actual flesh-and-blood humans delivering his distinctive dialogue and walking around his immaculately constructed frames. Anderson’s style is admittedly impossible to ignore, but after five or maybe ten minutes of seeing the world the way he must I largely forgot that I was supposed to be participating in an act of self-aware cultural consumption and just watched the damn movie.