Here is a challenging and disturbing—if of course quite one-sided—review of MOONRISE KINGDOM.

Well, I’ve also discovered that liking Wes Anderson movies ranking very high on the famous list of things white people like. White people show their sophistication and sensitivity by tastefully appreciating Wes, although they get a bit balled up when they try to explain why. It’s true of course that sophisticated and successful (Belmont) white people, for reasons Walker Percy explains, are self-indulgent romantics in their aesthetic tastes.

The Anderson message seems to be that it’s impossible to find happiness and fulfillment in doing what you’re supposed to as an adult married with children. To be an adult is to be locked up in yourself like Hank Williams, tragically disappointed, confused, too emotionally detached to be happily in love in the present, and basically ineffectual in reaching out to and supporting those you really do love in a way. In MOONRISE, the Bill Murray character says he and his wife are all his children have, and he knows that it’s not enough. What’s enough is what the children discover on their own and for themselves, if only for a moment. Maybe this is what too many white people really think. This even what Solzhenitsyn thought about American white people. He heard the “howl” of existentialism just beneath the surface of their happytalk pragmatism.

And so this is why so many white people love Bill Murray. According to our astute and rather mean reviewer:

Bill Murray isn’t an actor, he’s the man with the world’s most sympathetic face. Bill realised years ago that he didn’t have to do anything to make people warm to him, in fact they warmed to him especially when he didn’t do anything. His face reaches new levels of immobility in this film, like a hugely loveable sofa cushion, from a childhood rec room, with the stuffing removed.

Who can’t feel for whatever it is that ails him? His wounds are deep and surely undeserved, and there’s not a mean bone in his body. This face is why the Murray character need not be developed to be compelling in MOONRISE. We’ve seen that face-and what it signifies—many times before.

So, in LOST IN TRANSLATION, what doesn’t translate into Japanese is Bill’s face. Its meaning is lost to the upbeat, non-existential, non-romantic Japanese. But the knock-out young American woman stuck in an unpromising marriage sees who he is right away. Again, we learn that it’s not that Bill doesn’t love his wife and kids, and he does remain as loyal he can to them, but . . . Although LOST IN TRANSLATION ain’t a Wes movie, entering the sympathetic longing which is Bill’s face doesn’t require or even suggest an overtly sexual relationship. Face time is explicitly contrasted with meaningless sex.

So I know that this “perspective” contradicts my earlier comments. But we POSTMODERN conservatives embrace the contradictions!

This concludes this homage to my whiteness through dwelling on a movie that may or may not be good for us, but is certainly tells us a lot about who we are.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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