Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No Mad Men in Moonrise Kingdom

Last night at this hour, I was nursing the existential pit in my stomach caused by the finale of the 5th season of Man Men. The moral vacuousness of the characters created by Matthew Weiner combined and converged to form a terrifying mass akin to a black hole, capable of destroying matter, one atom at a time.

While I loved and even obsessed over the show, the utter lack of integrity of most of the drama's players served to dismay and distress me, strangely echoing current real-life dramas of my own, in the classic and not uncommon "art imitates life" manner.

Integrity is on my mind at all times. I cannot help it; I am the daughter of a clergyman.

Even more than I have obsessed over Don and Betty and Megan and Sally and Roger and Peggy and Ginsberg and Lane, I obsess over the question: How do I lead a good life? I ponder how to create something real and substantive; how to stay good and pure in my intentions. Even as I entertain superficial concerns, it is always there in the back of my mind: have I done that which I promised? Am I coming through?

These are formidable goals for someone who toils in the field of spin and promotion. Overhearing me speaking to a reporter on the phone about a client's project, HOBB commented that I get paid to lie, or at least bend the truth in a creative way.

Which is why I am delighted to have been dragged to a rare weekday evening movie, courtesy of HOBB, who insisted we make a date night out of our carpooling duties for Little Babe at the SAR High School graduation, scheduled to take place at SUNY Purchase, where he performed as part of the school band.

Though it was I who originally proposed a fun excursion in Westchester for the stretch of time between dropping our son off and picking him up, I was feeling anything but jovial  as the evening approached. Overwhelmed by work responsibilities, morose from the crash 'n burn ending of a business relationship that had become increasingly troubling for me, I found myself glumly staring into my Whole Foods dinnertime salad at 7 p.m., unconvinced that I could give myself to the escapist joy of film-going.

But HOBB insisted and soon we were one of nine people at a vastly under-attended Greenburgh cineplex, watching the exquisite Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson. Since he saw it at the Berlinale, Big Babe had urged, nudged and otherwise implored me to see Moonrise Kingdom, knowing I would especially love it. Entering the film's dreamscape, I was swiftly swept away. Deep, yet whimsical, serious and quirky all at once -- and stunningly beautiful to boot -- the film centers on the love affair of Sam and Suzy, two wounded, stridently independent and extraordinary prepubescent children who live in accordance with the dictates of their hearts.

Guileless, loyal and honorable, all they want is for the adult world to let them be together...and their own quirky selves.

Watching Sam and Suzy embark on their wilderness adventure, I easily traveled back in time to that age and place where doing the right thing is easy and unimpeded, especially when your best friend is by your side, where the truest goal one can have is to have adventures, where eternity resides in the present moment.

And it is only now, hours later, that I thank the god of confluence for sending Moonrise Kingdom my way tonight of all nights, to provide a counterbalance to the maddening end of Season 5 of Mad Men, to soothe my agitated soul, to inspire me by example of Wes Anderson's stubbornly individualistic artistic achievement, recalling me to my most authentic nature, reminding me of what I once knew and held so easily, close to my heart.

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