Anyone Else Enjoy "Bad Ronald?"

From Fairfax NZ News

An obsessed lover built a hideout inside his ex-partner's house and used it to spy on her.

The 25-year-old man - who has name suppression - spent many hours in the hidden cavity, under a flight of stairs, and stocked it with clothes, bedding, food, candles, torches - and an arsenal of weapons.

He also cut holes in the plasterboard of the hideout and created trapdoors, giving him access to the whole house.

He was caught after he emerged from the hiding spot and lashed out with a spade when another man visited his former partner at the Lower Hutt home about 3am on April 1.

Police arrested him later that day after he was found hiding under the home in Epuni. He was taken to hospital with bite wounds after a police dog was sent to help flush him out.

In Wellington District Court this week, Judge Peter Hobbs sentenced the man to three years and seven months' jail on 10 charges that included aggravated burglary, assault with a weapon, threatening to kill, assault on a woman, wilful trespass, being unlawfully in a building and wilful damage.

The judge said the man wasn't the first to become "unhinged and obsessed" after a breakup but the offending was premeditated and "completely inappropriate".

He took into account the man's guilty plea, remorse and mental health issues when deciding his sentence. "It appears you are a man of some promise and this offending resulted largely from an emotional breakdown and an addiction to methamphetamine.

The Dominion Post can reveal details from the summary of facts after an order suppressing aspects of the case was lifted.

It outlines a trail of violent domestic incidents in which the man punched and kicked his ex-partner. The couple broke up on March 22 and the ex-partner stayed with family and friends because she was too scared to stay at the home alone.

Three days later the man was found at the home and lashed out again. Police barred him from the home for two years.

On the day his hiding place was discovered, his ex-girlfriend was talking to a man in a lounge upstairs. The pair heard a noise on the porch and, when they investigated, found an old envelope with a note that read: "He has three min to leave or me & Charlz be bak". The ex-partner went through the home locking all the doors and windows. A wardrobe was not shut in her daughter's bedroom and, as she began to close the doors, she saw her ex-lover standing in the wardrobe holding a garden spade.
He chased her outside and yelled to the other man: "I'm gonna f...... kill you." He fled after the spade was wrestled from him.

Police and the woman returned to the home later the same day to search it.

They could not open the front door, found a sheet covering the window, another window broken and a wall unit damaged at the rear of the home.

The man was found hiding under the house. "While searching the address, police found a small area in the wall space where the defendant had food, clothing, torches, candles and bedding items," the police summary says.

"The defendant had weapons hidden in the wall space, including a metal golf club, a wooden chair leg, a kitchen knife and a screwdriver."

He could access the area via a manhole underneath the home.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Cooper said police believed they had foiled either a kidnapping or a serious attack. "It's that whole obsessive nature of this incident, which was quite concerning and scary.

"Why was he there and what was he going to do? [We] believe he was gearing up to maybe kidnap her - for what reasons we don't know."

However, at court, the man's tearful ex-partner, who is about five months' pregnant with his child, said: "I know he wouldn't have hurt me - I know for a fact - and I don't believe he was down there for very long.

"If he was hiding like the police say he was hiding, he would have come and spoken to me."

Mr Cooper said it was not unusual for victims of domestic violence to play down the severity of incidents because they still had feelings for the people who had abused them. "This is probably one of the biggest barriers to [dealing with] domestic violence.

"Complainants or victims continue to justify the actions of perpetrators."

The man's father said the incident was totally out of character. "I think it was a one-off . . . and I think that fort was only built on the day. When the cops showed up, he tried to find a place to hide.

"It's totally out of character. [He's] never been violent in his whole life, the little bugger."

The Inhuman Centipede

Maybe you’ve been ignoring the whole Human Centipede thing hoping it would eventually go away.  And no one would blame you.  By now, almost every pop- literate citizen is at least aware of the basic premise—psychotic German surgeon abducts three people and sutures them together, ass to mouth, to form the “human centipede” (after practicing on his three Dobermans, the lost, lamented “3-dog”).  No one should have to see something like that if they don’t want to.  For many, it’s bad enough just knowing it exists—try to “unthink” that premise once you’ve heard it.

The “human centipede” is a brilliant concept that made for a decent film.  Congratulations to writer/director Tom Six for imagineering a genuinely novel development in the horror repertoire, especially this late in the game.   By virtue of the premise alone, The Human Centipede was the biggest innovation in exploitation since the great hype-cloud that allowed The Blair Witch Project to blur possibility and probability back in 1999.  Again, try to “unthink” the human centipede.

Most of The Human Centipede was spent slithering toward the culmination of the centipede itself, which is fair enough considering that it was such a whopper of a reveal.  So, having seen the “centipede” of HC1, I wasn’t in that much of a hurry to see the sequel, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence.   Sure, I knew there were more “pede” units to be had this time, but I assumed it would just be more of the same, albeit ramped up to the “full sequence.”

It just goes to show you, when you “assume” you take an ass and sew you to me.  I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the warped brilliance of  HC2: FS.  Without question, it’s the best horror film I’ve seen in a decade.  No irony, no scare quotes—it’s truly stunning, and an emphatic retort to all the whiners (myself included) who constantly complain that the horror genre has become just another minor variant of the sfx-heavy action film.

Which got me to thinking—I didn’t remember the reviews being very kind to this film, which is odd, considering how absolutely amazing it is.  So after recovering from HC2: FS, I went back and looked at what the critical-industrial complex had to say about it.  Here’s a sampling:

“The film is reprehensible, dismaying, ugly, artless and an affront to any notion, however remote, of human decency.”  
                                                                         Roger Ebert 

“This is tension-free torture porn, whose perpetrator's actions aren't just banal and consequence-free, they're endlessly justified by an abusive back-story.” 

                                                                        Catherine Shoard at The Guardian 

“Six has in essence backed himself into a rhetorical corner, leaving as perhaps the only option for his next stunt something in which the filmmaker Tom Six winds up with his mouth surgically attached to his own anus.”   
                                                                        Mark Olsen at the L.A. Times.  

You know how this game is played.  Anytime you see such a consensus of disgusted outrage (a putrid 17 out of 100 on Metacritic!), something very interesting must be going on—sociologically if not cinematically.  Most reviewers dismissed  HC2: FS as having little ambition beyond simply “outdoing” the excesses of the first film.  Others, like Shoard, read it through the now chic lens of “torture porn” (not that “torture porn” is necessarily chic, but calling things “torture porn” certainly is).  But dismissing HC2: FS as “porn” or measuring it by dangling arthropod to arthropod misses the point.  HC2: FS is a different creature entirely, born of The Human Centipede’s DNA, to be sure, and yet a radical mutation into something far more interesting.

For our second round of centipeding, Six moves the franchise from a rich Black Forest enclave to the socio-economic underbelly of London.  This is a crucial and savvy transplantation.  Looking beyond the novel “shock value” of the premise, HC1 was in the end a rather traditional “mad scientist” movie, another entry in a genre now two centuries deep in its critique of Enlightenment reason and science.  Like the various Frankensteins and Mengeles before him, Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) creates a human centipede for no discernible reason beyond his own perverse desire to see it done, to prove to himself that it can be done.  There is a sense the “human centipede” might be a pet to replace his beloved “drei hund,” but really, his surgical adventures are more the decadent hobby of a man with too much money, time, and education.

For HC2: FS, we move to the other end of technocratic capitalism’s spectrum of horrors—the daily humiliation of an utterly empty existence born of poverty, atomization, and alienation.  Dr. Heiter is gone, replaced here by “Martin” (Laurence R. Harvey), an essentially mute garage attendant who lives at home with his mum in a nightmare of council housing deprivation.  Six has also shifted from color to black and white for HC2: FS to better capture the gritty squalor of Martin’s world.

Short, fat, sweaty, balding, bug-eyed, and asthmatic, Martin is an incredibly over-determined signifier of “unhealthy” masculinity, a sickness that we presume (and will soon discover) infects his sexual life as well (confirmed, rather “roughly,” in one of the film’s first jaw-droppers).

We first meet Martin at work—one of the three hellish locations that organizes HC2: FS  (alongside his suicide-inducing bedroom and an old warehouse that Martin appropriates to realize his version of the centipede). It would be difficult to imagine a profession that captures the fundamentally perverse inversion of contemporary social/property relations more effectively than the parking garage attendant--a low paying job to watch over high-end automobiles.  Consider, for a moment, the responsibilities of the all-night parking garage attendant.  S/he must spend hours at a time monitoring a bank of surveillance cameras on the look out for: 1). people stealing, robbing, or vandalizing cars; 2). people engaged in sex acts and drug use deemed illegal 3). people robbing, assaulting, or raping one another; 4). fender-benders that might escalate into violence, or worse, block other patrons from making an efficient exit from the parking facility (when the world ends, after all, it will either be from a viral epidemic or from a vehicular mishap that sets off a chain reaction of road rage, Rube Goldberg style, across all the continents of the world). 

Martin at work.
One might argue that such attendants have a panoptic function, ensuring “order” in the facility through the threat of surveillance, but really, they are only there to mop up after various confrontations between people and property have already happened.  Your job (should you be forced to accept it) is to sit for hours as a vestigial human guarantee that some sentient being will be around to call the cops when someone staggers to the booth to report a mugging, collision, or worse.   To emphasize the fundamental horror of Martin’s job, Six repeatedly frames his miserable protagonist through the tiny window in Martin’s cubicle—a man trapped in an airless box all night who turns to atrocity, at least in part, out of sheer boredom. 

Martin watches exposition from HC1 on his laptop
Martin's notebook.
What does Martin do all night at work?  Like most people trapped in dehumanizing, boring, repetitive, and monotonous labor, Martin escapes into the products of the culture industry—which is so say, he spends almost all his time either watching or thinking about the movie, The Human Centipede.  When not scanning the garage cameras for potential pede-units vulnerable to abduction, Martin watches HC1 over and over again on his laptop (taking detailed notes on the film’s seemingly straightforward premise: find some people, sew them to together, one ass to one mouth). Most horror franchises eventually turn reflexive, usually as a last resort, but this twist in the centipede—so early in the presumed “franchise”—actually makes it more an extension or bookend for the first film (and one hopes it will establish the premise that each new installment in the series must be motivated by someone "inspired" by the previous film). 

I dwell on Martin’s work environment because it is so central to the overall sensibility of the film.  While Dr. Heiter of HC1 treats his pede-units much like his cherished 3-hound, a beloved pet to be encouraged, trained, and only occasionally scolded, Martin dispenses with such niceties.  After gathering the 12 people he needs to realize his “full sequence” centipede, Martin treats them as the nameless units they are, a product to be assembled in the empty factory space.  The mad Dr. Heiter was a professional, an artist, his powers and pleasures residing as much in the technique as the product itself.  But the stunted, abused, and otherwise traumatized Martin is interested in more brutal fantasies of power—like the disgusting children in Roald Dahl's chocolate factory, he wants his own human centipede and he wants it now.  Much of the horror and intersecting low-comedy of HC2:FS stems from undercutting Martin's enthusiasm for the project with his amateurism and ineptitude. He controls his pede-units, not with sedatives and anesthesia, but instead by crudely bonking them on the head, Shemp-style, with a crowbar.  With no medical education or equipment to perform the intricate suturing required of a quality centipede, Martin instead makes due with a staple gun.

Let's get to work!
This is why it is a mistake to lump HC2: FS in with the other films typically labeled “torture porn” (epitomized, perhaps, by Eli Roth’s Hostel 2 [2007]).  There is no sado-masochistic vibe in HC2: FS.  None.  In fact, indulging such a dynamic would quite possibly make HC2:FS somewhat less disturbing (at least one could retreat to the fantasy that some form of mutually defining desire was at work here between centipede and centipeder).  Instead, Martin demonstrates neither empathy nor sadism in dealing with his abductees, treating them with the blank impassivity of a widget stamper stamping widgets.  The tour-de-force scene of Martin's casually brutal tooth extraction is all the more chilling for refusing to indulge the typical dynamics of sadistic voyeurism—it just happens, without any semblance of hesitation or any evidence of pleasure. It needs to be done, so Martin does it. 

Martin inspects his "inventory"
The “human centipede,” after all, is in its most basic concept a diabolically evil parody of Fordism, a figure that renders human beings into an assemblage of interlocking and basically identical parts (as, of course, factory workers have always been). The move from surgical theater to abandoned warehouse better emphasizes this dehumanization, as do the repeated long shots capturing the pede-units (prior to assembly) strewn across the floor like Legos in Martin's demented playpen.  There is even a moment of darkly comic solidarity.  Like Martin, one of the “pede-units” is also quite familiar with The Human Centipede.  With Martin gone for awhile, this pede-unit manages to get the duct tape off his mouth.  “He’s going to stitch us ass to mouth!” “He’s going to stitch us ass to mouth!”  he announces to the other bound and gagged victims writhing around him.  A collective but muffled groan echoes through the warehouse, much like when a shift supervisor announces everyone will have to stay until midnight to make that day’s quota. 

Home sweet home.
As per generic requirement, Six displaces this sociological horrorfest onto some psychosexual mumbo-jumbo about Martin’s history of sexual abuse (We repeatedly hear the voice of Martin’s father in his head, “Cry all ya want son, you’re just making me willie harder”). At "home," Martin sleeps on a dirty mattress with no sheets, his massive belly fat and bulging eyes giving him the appearance of some bloated, tragic mammal headed for imminent extinction.  His “mum,” meanwhile, actively courts their mutual demise, blaming Martin for his father's incarceration and imploring that they should both die so that their miserable existences might come to end (even going so far as to repeatedly antagonize the heavily tattooed psychopath living upstairs in the hopes that he’ll bludgeon them both to death).  When Martin comes home one night to find his mum in his bedroom viciously stabbing a wad of blankets, thinking Martin is underneath asleep, we’re supposed to think Psycho.  But there is also the even more horrifying sense that mum is just doing the humane thing for everyone involved. 

By taking the centipede “bait" (longer! bloodier!), critics have for the most part ignored that these scenes of work and home are as horrifying, if not more so, than Martin's actual construction of the centipede itself; moreover, they are crucial to framing the full significance of achieving the "full sequence."  In the horrible, horrible realm of Martin's existence, The Human Centipede is his only pleasure, and building his own centipede apparently his only ambition.  There is a rather poignant moment (yes, I said poignant) that captures the full affect of Martin's tormented world.  Watching HC1 for the millionth time on his laptop, Martin comes to the crucial scene in which the "head" of the human centipede (i.e. the guy lucky enough to be at the front) announces, much to his shame and regret, that he needs to shit, thus initiating the true alimentary horror implicit in the centipede's construction.  From a close-up of the lap-top, Six cuts back outside Martin's cubicle where we see him through his little window, jumping to his feet and pumping his arms in the air in a rare moment of unadulterated joy.  Let the shit-eating begin!  It is the only moment in the film where we have any real empathy or identification with Martin, no doubt because we recognize in his exaltation our own desire to escape the various humiliations that existence has in store for us. 

Which gets to the essence of the franchise's dark, dark appeal.  George Romero began his zombie dynasty with a nicely abstract bit of ancient philosophy: "When hell is full, the dead will walk the earth."  The Human Centipede films appear to have a much more disturbing (and relevant) credo: "When all are subjugated, the only remaining pleasure will be to make others eat shit."

Afterword:  There is apparently a third centipede film now in pre-production.  Ominously, it is rumored to pair Dr. Heiter and Martin in a bid to create a 500-link centipede.  But there are also reports that the script is still up in the air.

For what it's worth, then, here's what I would pitch for The Human Centipede 3 in order to stay true to its more insightful elements:

A pair of billionaire brothers (let's call them the "Kokes"), having bought everything in the world worth buying and having no real pleasure in life beyond making things more miserable for others, stumble upon a copy of HC2: FS.  Later, Brother 1 remembers a lost Pacific tradition in which coconuts were made more delectable by forcing them through the digestive tracts of captured slaves. VoilĂ ! With the wedding of one of their daughters on the horizon, the brothers decide to recruit 24 of the world's most impoverished and desperate people to "willingly" become a human-centipede coconut tenderizing machine.  And if they don't produce enough coconut meat in time for the wedding reception, something even worse looms on the horizon (I'll let Tom Six figure that part out--he's really good at thinking up sick stuff). 


 Good lord, the squirrel sickness continues to infect all of popular culture--in this case, a rodenty take on HBO's Girls.

SQIRLS from Amelia Hancock on Vimeo.

My thanks to Anthony C. Bleach @ for pointing this one out.

Bad Kids


Assorted Nurses 6

Ice Show Nurse by Jane Converse (1971) Signet P4121
Masquerade Nurse by Jane Converse (1963) Signet KD508
Nurse Penny by Suzanne Roberts (1968) Dell 6481
Dr. Grayson's Crisis by Ruth MacLeod (1962) Berkley Y668
Paper Halo by Kate Norway (1970) Harlequin 1505
Nurse on Nightmare Island by Lois Eby (1966) Lancer 72-101


Whites, Whimsy, and 'Moonrise Kingdom'

If someone wanted to rain on Moonrise Kingdom's parade,  it might very well go like this:

Once upon a time there was an enchanted island where white kids could be safe and magic.  Rather than play Skullcrusher 3 on the X-Box all day, little boys, of their own accord, sat attentively listening to scratchy recordings of Benjamin Britten's A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, apparently to prepare for mandatory induction in the local church's neverending production of Britten's opera, Noye's Fludde.  Little girls, meanwhile, didn't text one another all day in vacuous volleys of OMGs and ROTFLs, but instead sat reading in gabled windows lost in a world of imagination.  Sure, girls could still be pretty ditsy, packing ye-ye records and kittens for arduous hiking expeditions, but they could always count on the chivalry and devotion of respectful, resourceful boys who knew how to build fires, pitch tents, and perform other sensible tasks.  A few kids might be "misfits" or "troubled," but they always found their way, especially when the surrounding community, both young and old, rallied to the siren song of true love.  The adults on this enchanted island weren't perfect, by any means, but eventually they did the right thing, for the kids if not for themselves.

Yes, it was New England in 1965, America's psychic center of white whimsy.

But the enchanted "Moonrise Kingdom" is no more.  A giant "storm" came along and washed it all away....

Yep, that's pretty much how you would do it, if you were inclined to do so.

Bill Murray...critic's kryptonite.
Moonrise Kingdom is so well crafted and so profoundly sweet that one feels guilty offering any critical account of it whatsoever--suddenly you're the grinch shitting in a kid's toy box.  A timeless account of "first love" and childhood innocence--who could ever be against that?   Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom.  How could I not, I was raised white and middle-class (Wes Anderson films as a whole, after all, are Number 10 on the Stuff White People Like blog).  Plus it has Bill Murray in it, and Bill Murray's very existence--even when glimpsed fleetingly as in this film--somehow keeps even the most whimsy-filled balloon from floating all the way up to a cream-cheese moon (in fact, I'm sure if Murray somehow miraculously showed up in Triumph of the Will, at a podium even, I'd find a way to justify it).  And while Anderson remains stubbornly committed to symmetrical framing, wide-angle distortion, clipped dialogue, and flattened affect, at least it presents a conscious stylistic choice in a commercial cinema that now usually vacillates between the laziness of basic coverage and the flying eye of the CGI.

So let me say up front, I'm not "against" Moonrise Kingdom.  But I am suspicious of it, just as I would be of anything hyped as "timeless" and "universal" in its story concerns.  Because Moonrise Kingdom is in fact very mindful of time, the mid-sixties to be exact, and for that matter, rather narrow in its demo on both sides of the screen.

Is it fair to criticize Moonrise Kingdom for having unrelenting faith in the magic of bygone whiteness?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Wes Anderson, or anyone else for that matter, certainly has the right to make a period piece about white people living in a milieu that was, for all practical purposes, all white (although you might suspect that two lawyers with four kids living in a huge old house on an exclusive island in 1965 might have at least one "domestic" on hand).  The argument here is certainly not that Anderson/Coppola should have added a Khaki scout of color to the troop's patrol, a quota solution to the (white) discomforts of race and representation that always flirts with the ludicrous. 

No, it isn't necessarily the whiteness of Moonrise Kingdom per se that is troubling, it's the whimsy.  Or perhaps more to the point, it's the whimsy plus the whiteness.  Or even more to the point of the point, it's the whimsy plus the whiteness plus the nostalgia.

Here's the question: can we afford whimsy right now, especially a whimsy born of a nostalgia for the era "before the great storm" wiped out, or at least marginalized, all the polite, literate, sensitive, ingenious white kids who white people fantasize were thriving once upon a time?  "Moonrise Kingdom," the magical cove, must get washed away because that's the logic of adult nostalgia, you can't go back to that first crush, a first love, or lost childhood adventures.  But when nestled within this larger island of quirky white people, the passing of Moonrise Kingdom implies a loss of social innocence as well, a caesura before America's growing racial, cultural, and technological diversity would transform Franny and Zooey into Snooki and the Situation.  There is the troubling sense in this film that white America was and is ever more whimsical the more it is cut-off from the surrounding social world, in this case on an island, in a hurricane, now lost in time.

Such liminal states are crucial to children's fiction, of course, which is a major if not defining template for Moonrise Kingdom (and Anderson's films more generally).  But in this context, the regressive journey to an adult world ruled by the logic of children makes the segregationist aspects of this fantasy that much more palpable.  The "magic Negro," after all, only becomes "magic" by coming into proximity with a white person.  The whimsy and magic of Moonrise Kingdom, on the other hand, has a Peter Pan in exile feel to it, not so much as a refusal to grow up, but as a reluctance to take the ferry over to Boston or New York or someplace else where kids haven't built treehouses in over a century.

Look familiar? I bet you've already seenMK
Anderson's preoccupation with precocious families often draws comparisons with Salinger, and The Royal Tenenbaums might well be as close as anyone will come to a bonus Salinger novel, albeit refracted through the multi-protagonist structure and detached humor endemic to recent U.S. art cinema.  But when Salinger's dramatis personae collide with the tone of Roald Dahl, as in Moonrise Kingdom, it has the odd effect of draining both authors of their respective undertows.  White America's nostalgia for the days when every white kid had to read A Catcher in the Rye has, oddly enough, transformed the rather dark postwar anomie lurking in and around Holden Caulfield into a type of timeless teen awkwardness--who wasn't a little weird as an adolescent, am I right?  And while Dahl's whimsy created a magical chocolate factory (and a fantastic Mr. Fox), it was also a place where desire very well might kill you.  Moonrise Kingdom, meanwhile, remains wholly untouched by Salinger's neurotic existentialism or Dahl's ability to highjack whimsy in service of something more sinister.   Sure, a dog gets an arrow through his neck in Moonrise Kingdom (seemingly for the sole purpose of setting up the film's best one-liner), but such sadness is hardly on a par with "A Perfect Day for Banana Fish."  And while "Suzy's" troubled bookishness may have an antecedent in the aforementioned Zooey, I doubt we will ever see The Bell Jar-esque sequel where she's at Smith in the 1970s, gingerly testing razor to wrist after reading Being and Nothingness.

No one wants to see Bill Murray as Seymour Glass, blowing his brains out in the last reel (much funnier that he expresses his marital frustrations by getting drunk and chopping down a tree).  But this Dahl v. Salinger conflict does raise a central question: Is Moonrise Kingdom a mature movie for little kids, or a childish movie for adults?  And what are the implications of that ambivalence?  No one, certainly, is going to begrudge children a little whimsy here and thereOn the other hand, if this is a film primarily for adults (as it seems to be--it certainly isn't being marketed as The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Part II), then its fantasy of white isolation on boy island becomes a bit more troubling.

Most children eventually give up the whimsical for the tragicomic, a subtle shift from weightless wonder to the crushingly unpredictable absurdities, high and low, that define the less insulated realities of adult life.  Moonrise Kingdom seems either unable or unwilling to cross that line--thus the confusion.  

Is it the fantasy of a twelve-year-old boy, Sam Shakusky in fact, imagining the freedoms and competencies he will enjoy after puberty, especially with slightly older and for now inaccessible junior high school girls?  Imagine for a moment if Sam was even an iota closer to Suzy in apparent age--Moonrise Kingdom would suddenly become Badlands. Shakusky's boner notwithstanding, or perhaps standing, but not with any carnal intent beyond some innocent cuddling, Moonrise Kingdom's tone would be impossible from any other perspective than waning boyhood latency (thus the army of uniformed boys--all the way up to Harvey Keitel-- and the one, lone, tall girl. I don't know what the movie would be like if it centered on Suzy, or a girly pack of Bluebirds, but it sure wouldn't be this movie).
"Aren't there any other girls on this island?"
Or is Moonrise Kingdom, more perversely, another early hallucination in a boomer-drenched culture that, now flirting with senility, wants to return once again to the 1960s, but not the 1960s in which "revolutionary" white boomers once fancied themselves the heroes, but the earlier, "nicer" 1960s that older, now more conservative white boomers bemoan having fucked up for themselves?   Ah, to live on a rustic island with no roads, but well-stocked with good books and classic music, be it Britten or Hank, an island where kids wrote letters, played board games, painted portraits-- an island  with cute ye-ye but no shaggy Beatles, Hullabaloos but no Woodstocks, snuggling but no sex, scouts but no gangs, liquor but no pot, Indian trails but no Indians, precocious white kids but no.....

Has every (white) generation now internalized the narrative that the sixties were a "mistake," the threshold of declension rather than the once celebrated vanguard of liberation? This was the explicit dynamic in last season's Mad Men (#123 on SWPL),  as fans of all ages despaired watching Don Draper begin his fall from coolest patriarch in the world to uptight fuddy duddy (and where everyone assumed that Dawn, the new African-American secretary, simply HAD to figure in some type of racially charged plot line that, by implication, would only further disrupt Don's crumbling paradise, a move that would have reduced Dawn to an unwelcome narrative complication in every sense of the term).  Taken together, Mad Men and Moonrise Kingdom seem to endorse a similar premise: (white) America starts turning to shit sometime in 1966.  At the risk of crapping in the toy box a final time, it is worth noting that Moonrise Kingdom's Hullabaloo hurricane hits just two weeks after the Watts riots, and only a few months before Megan Draper culturally emasculates Don by forcing him to listen to that acid nightmare, "Tomorrow Never Knows."  Moonrise Kingdom can only remain magical, whimsical, and timeless by thoroughly extricating itself from this messier social world on the mainland, wistfully stopping the clock before the real hurricane hits.