I recently had occasion to watch the Wes Anderson film,
Kingdom." I am a fan of movies generally, even bad ones.
"Moonrise Kingdom" is a very good one. I am fascinated by the craft
involved and always interested in what motivates writers and
directors of films to create what they create. The late
idionsyncratic New Yorker film critic, Pauline Kael, was a
fan of Wes Anderson -- and vice versa -- and she was an even bigger
fan of Bill Murray. Those of you familiar with Wes Anderson's work
know that a Wes Anderson film without Bill Murray is like an ice
cream truck without ice cream.
"Moonrise Kingdom" is a fantasy revolving around two twelve year
olds who plot an "escape" from their current environs to elsewhere.
Part of the problem for them, as well as part of the charm of the
film, is that their escape is to another part of a rather small
island, where they set up camp and ultimately are discovered,
indeed rather quickly. The film being a fantasy, to describe it
further would not do it justice, and I do not want to spoil it for
those of you who have not seen it.
As a fan of films I watch them first, without having read any
reviews. Having drawn my own conclusions, I then read critics I
have found credible. In that regard, I commend to your attention
Roger Ebert's review of the film.
As fantasy, "Moonrise Kingdom" is, nevertheless, instructive.
First, it is a very well-crafted, well-cast and well-acted film.
You do not want to miss any part of it, and you do not want it to
Bill Murray plays the father of the female escapee. He and his
wife, the female escapee's mother, played by Frances McDormand, are
both lawyers (you do wonder what there is for lawyers to do on this
small island where the only people you see are the characters in
the film). There are a few "lawyer" scenes, which you will
Edward Norton plays a scoutmaster, who observes, when the
youngsters are found, that the young male scout escapee has set up
a camp that is first-rate. Bruce Willis plays the local law
enforcement officer, and Tilda Swinton plays an unnamed character
simply called "Social Services." Harvey Keitel, in a cameo role,
plays a higher ranking scout officer. Some of the casting is
against type, which adds to the overall craft of the film.
I have talked about craft before. Craft is essential to our
professionalism. For example, trial lawyers with good instincts
regarding when to object and when not to still have to have a good
command of the rules of evidence. (I recall the actor, Arthur Hill,
as television's Owen Marshall, attorney, who rose to object in one
episode, and the judge inquired as to the basis for his objection.
Marshall's reply, in substance: "It hurts my client's case.")
Craft also includes, I believe, the right attitude. In some
recent meetings with some of our judges, I was told that lack of
civility in our courts is still a problem. In particular, the lack
of civility and lack of respect includes not just lawyers' behavior
toward each other but also behavior toward the court. Such behavior
is bad attitude, bad craft, unprofessional and unacceptable.
Equally important, it is unpersuasive to a tribunal and thus
counter to the interests of the client.
All of us need to promote craft. Fundamentally, that means
proper preparation and proper behavior. It means always treating
each other with dignity and respect. By doing so, we enhance public
respect for our profession. Our behavior drives perceptions, and
perceptions drive reality.
Craft and civility were on display at a recent meeting of the
bar, court leaders and local legislators at the Salem District
Court. This informal meeting was part of the MBA's ongoing court
funding advocacy efforts. A productive group discussion centered on
the needs of the court system, with specific examples provided by a
number of court people, from their particular vantage points. Trial
Court Administrator Harry Spence gave an informative and realistic
overview of the court system and status of court funding. Offering
the bar's perspective, Boston Bar Association President J.D.
Smeallie and I had the privilege of addressing the group. The
takeaway from this meeting was that we all have to be educators
regarding the importance of our court system and need for adequate
funding to ensure the third branch of government's effective
operation. See related article, cover.
All of us need to promote the importance of craft and
professionalism. All of us need to advocate, to all who will
listen, for our court system. The MBA promotes professionalism and
advocates for the court system. Join us in that effort and get
others to do so. I encourage all of us to demonstrate the same kind
of commitment to our profession that is evident in the craft of
filmmaker Wes Anderson in his delightful fantasy, "Moonrise