65. Rushmore – Wes Anderson (1998)

Repeat viewing.

Having watched the delightful Moonrise Kingdom recently I had the urge to dig out some old Wes Anderson movies and treat myself to seeing some old friends. First on the list to view again was Rushmore, possibly, my favourite from Anderson’s back catalogue.

A very young looking Jason Schwartzman plays our not entirely loveable protagonist, Max Fischer, a student at the elite Rushmore academy. Max has terrible grades, and spends too much time participating in extra-curricular activities (not a euphemism!) Max, a prolific attention seeker, starts to concentrate his own attention on a first grade teacher, Rosemary Cross, (Olivia Williams) although the pair become friends it is a purely platonic affair on the part of Rosemary. Max, while crushing on Rosemary, is also cultivating a (platonic) relationship with millionaire Herman Blume, played in the most deadpan style by Bill Murray. This, if you couldn’t guess, is where things become complicated. Herman and Rosemary start a relationship and thus everyone’s lives start to follow a downward trajectory. Max, of course, is filled with jealousy and intent on revenge. And so it begins…

Like with most Anderson movies you either buy into the world he’s creating or you end up hating it. There’s plenty of vitriol, spread throughout the internet world, about Anderson’s style of movies. The word “quirky” gets thrown around a lot to describe them, I dislike that term. It seems so dismissive of what’s actually being created. Personally I love his films. I can appreciate why people do hate them, it’s not like when people tell you they hate Citizen Kane and you’re left a gasp. The characters in Anderson films can seem cold and difficult to connect with, whilst his directing style is exaggerated and aggrandizing. I’ve come to expect it from Anderson now, in fact, I rather enjoy it. I like all the little touches he adds to his movies.

Back to Rushmore…The film is a wonderfully observed comedy. It’s full of great lines, played in the most understated way. At one point Bill Murray is going through a minor mental breakdown, and, whilst smoking a cigarette, lights another cigarette and starts smoking them both inside an elevator/lift. It may not seem widely fun, but it’s performed so perfectly that it always makes me laugh. The film is full of little touches that make me smile. Even the tragic moments have a sense of comedy, for example, Murray mumbles irreverently “Mmmm…I’m a little bit lonely these days” and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I’ve often wondered what the results would be if Anderson attempted to make a serious, deep movie. His own There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men. I can imagine he’d make quite an interesting director of crime movies. There’s really not a lot of difference between any Anderson film. They’re all of the same ilk. They’re all tragicomedies, with characters that aren’t quite the same as anyone else. I love Anderson movies, but watching Rushmore again shows a lack of evolution from Anderson. I don’t really mind really though, I kinda like them the way they are.

Marks out of ten – Nine.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “65. Rushmore – Wes Anderson (1998)

  1. “I’ve often wondered what the results would be if Anderson attempted to make a serious, deep movie. His own There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men.” eheh, interesting question, maybe less “serious”? i always chuckle to characters little manias in his movies.

  2. skyewithane

    I think this is one of my favorite by him, but you hit the nail on why I can’t get super into him, that they’re all of the same ilk. He does a great job with what he does, but because that they’re all similar (in a way) I can’t get crazy into him, which is too bad because his production design is great.

    • Yeah, I’d really like to see him do something totally different to what he’s been doing. Just to see what happens. His production values are great, but they’re probably not even that expensive films!

  3. cineroulade

    Interesting reviews & comments. Like skywithane, I’ve never been able to get “super into” Wes Anderson, though I admire his technical skill. Somehow his aesthetic has always been offputting to me, however. Nothing wrong with this, though — if anything it marks him out as an original. Like the British yeast product Marmite, Wes Anderson seems to be one of those phenomena that people either “get” or “don’t get.” I don’t get him, but art is not democracy, thank God.

    • Haha, I think I’m the only english person who’s indifferent with Marmite, I can take it or leave….Out of curiosity what do you not like about the aesthetic?

      • cineroulade

        Okay, I guess I should be more concrete! In general, I find Anderson’s color palate too garish & his sets overlit. Not sure why, however, as I am a huge fan of early technicolor & Anderson is one of the few directors today who still thinks his films around design that way. Perhaps more to the point, I find his direction a little too clever, & his actors a little too muted in their emotional range.

      • Thanks for elaborating. I definitely agree about the actors being very reserved in their emotional range, it’s one reason I never much liked The Life Aquatic. His direction is certainly a little “show-offy” too, sometimes I like that, and sometimes it gets in the way. The only director whom I can honestly say gets away with overtly over the top directing constantly is Godard.

  4. I borrowed this last week! I’ve never seen it before, looking forward to watching it now :)

  5. do you remember this wes anderson commercial for ikea? http://youtu.be/0CCL-vhEtf4

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