Thursday, August 2, 2012

women that buck like goats

“Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.” 

In Destination Unknown, one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, the wealthiest man in the world describes red hair as intrinsically tied to passion and rebellion. "Redheaded women buck like goats," quoth a character in Ulysses, by James Joyce. (I did a double-take the first time I beheld that phrase. It's just such a vivid, choice way of describing the redhead temperament. But Mr. Joyce was Irish. Thus, I reason, he was probably something like an expert on red-heads. So, we'll just take his word and roll with it.) 
The following firecracker heroines of two of the summer's top movies definitely do their part to uphold that red-hot (a pun!) reputation. 

"I'll be shooting for my own hand."
Last week, I saw Brave with the sibs. It was absolutely beautiful: a tale of a ridiculously adorable family, set in the adventure-filled world of the Scottish highlands. I realized about half an hour into the film I had no idea what the movie was about, and I had no idea what to expect. All I had was a trailer that showed a bumbling bunch of clan chieftains, archery, a bear (?), and the fateful (another pun!) phrase that was quickly added to my friends' arsenal of catch-all catch-phrases:
"If you could change your fate would ya?"

But at the heart of the film was Merida's relationship with her mother. Merida's and her mother's story is pivots about that magical moment when your mother transforms from solely a teacher of etiquette and proper behavior, a rule-enforcer, and a mischief-stopper, to your collaborator, companion, and friend. Merida infects the entire film with her energy, which is about as endless and unbounded as her flaming red locks. She is the quintessential red-head: bursting at the seams (yet another pun!) with passion and determination, and with oodles of sass to spare.

"I love you, but you have no idea what you're talking about."
And then I saw Moonrise Kingdom. And my heart was made glad. The film was utterly charming in every single aspect of its being. Our ginger protagonist, Suzy Bishop, is a much more sullen, introverted young lady than the boisterous and bubbly Merida. She spends the first several shots of the movie pouting while Purcell plays over her baby brothers' record player. And then her binoculars. 

Merida may be a whiz at archery, but Suzy is a born observer. She says her binoculars helps her see things better "even if they're not far away." Her compatriot and confidante responds: "that's sort of like poetry." And that's Moonrise Kingdom: a poetic, endearing, eccentric paean to the bizarre simplicity of being young and in love. It's got a unique look all it's own, but the flavor of the film slightly resembles Pushing Daisies, with it's beautifully framed shots, '60's retro style, and the colorful magical realism. But there's just a little more sour mixed in with the sweet on the treacherous Island of New Penzance than at the comfy-cozy Pie Hole. 

Suzy is a heroine with all the pluck, love for adventure, and rebellion that goes with the red-headed territory. She's raw, honest, sincere, and hasn't a touch of pretension or pretense about her. I absolutely adored her. But Edward Norton as the delicate and dedicated Scoutmaster Ward wins the Most Endearing Character award. Every time he marched into the frame, he simultaneously elicited chuckles and pulled at your heartstrings.  

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