Tag Archives: hipster

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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41. Tiny Furniture – Lena Dunham (2010)

First viewing.

“He’s really famous, in an internet sort of way.”

As I’ve mention previously on this semi-narcissistic blog of mine, I do love a mumblecore film. And, as is my love for said genre, I’ve been waiting to catch the much hyped Tiny Furniture for the best part of  two years. Finally Criterion have done the decent thing and given it a DVD release. I know, Criterion DVD, that’s fancy talk for arty/international/damn-fucking-good. (delete as applicable)  So, the question on all of your lips, the one that you’re all desperate to ask is this; “How good is it?” The answer, I’m saddened to report, is as follows, it’s rather underwhelming. And that’s despite it being shot in Tribeca. Was there too much expectation on my part? Perhaps. But I did start off loving the opening 30 minutes. It’s witty, hipster-ish in a good way, and rather entertaining. Then it falls into the trap of becoming, what we bloggers in the underground cinemas who smoke our American spirits, drink our black coffee and never leave our house unless it’s to go to the movies call “up it’s own arse.” It’s a technical phrase. It stops being witty and, instead, starts whining about how shit everything is. Now I love a bit of whining, it’s cool with me when others do it even, but this is the cinematic equivalent of that annoying girl we all knew who moans that daddy won’t buy her a new pony. What’s wrong with the pony you already have? I had to make do with a postcard of a horse. Not that I ever wanted a pony in the first place, I just like postcards. I’ve started to digress, but, my point is this, it becomes hipster cliché 101. It’s like every bad article you’ve read on Vice, but filmed, and with a bunch of annoying actors, minus the wonderful Jemima Kirke. Kirke really is the best thing on screen, she’s got a certain self aware charm that all the others lack. (Nothing to do with her being from London, honest….) I really couldn’t believe how much my initial enthusiasm for the film had waned by the time the closing credits arrive.

Now what I do really love about the movie is the cinematography, it’s rather elegant. It’s shot on a Canon 7D, which, as you may know, is a stills camera. And not the most expensive camera in the world either. It’s a great piece of equipment, and, with some nice lenses, you can make a fantastic looking movie that won’t break the bank. So Lena Dunham deserves praise for the film’s quality production, sadly her acting and scriptwriting skills really aren’t as good.

As I’ve said, the opening works wonderfully, but it just can’t sustain it. Dunham certainly showed some potential for future movies, but this ain’t so great…

Marks out of ten  – Six

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36. Cold Weather – Aaron Katz (2010)

First Viewing.

This movie has all kinds of ingredients I love; hipsters, baseball statistics, Sherlock Holmes, some mystery and a trip to a tobacconist to buy a pipe. It can’t fail with content like that! In all seriousness though it’s a very good movie that’s been made with very little money. Katz’s last flick, Quiet City, was one of my top five movies from 2007 and, if I had to pick, the best of the mumblecore bunch (although Mutual Appreciation, Nights & Weekends, Baghead, and My Effortless Brilliance are all contenders, despite averaging less than six out of ten on the useless IMDB rating system.) There’s some debate, sparked by Katz’s comments during a Q&A session, regarding whether this is a hipster-mystery-movie or a story about sibling relationships. Both elements are valid and engaging, making for a good genre movie. The scenery is fantastic, one really gets a feel for the landscape of Portland, and also the downtown urban scene, it’s an interesting juxtaposition of settings – I’m itchin’ to visit Portland now. Surprisingly, for a mumblecore film, this has a pretty strong story running throughout, the “mystery” surrounding the movie isn’t exactly of Hitchcock standard, naturally, but it works well against the usual reserved dialogue of Katz’s films.

If you’ve not seen any of Katz’s films then this is his most accessible work so far and also a good place to start if you’re a mumblecore virgin.

Marks out of ten – Seven

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