Sunday, October 14, 2012

#790. Rushmore (1998) - The Films of Wes Anderson

Directed By: Wes Anderson

Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams

Tag line: "Love. Expulsion. Revolution"

Trivia: Bill Murray's character wears the same suit throughout the entire film. He just changes his shirt and tie, which are always the same color as each other

Wes Anderson's films feel as if they take place in a sort of alternate reality, a world that looks very much like our own, yet is populated by bizarre, curiously interesting characters. His 1998 picture Rushmore is an early example of the quirky style Anderson would perfect over the course of his career.

It's also a very funny movie.

Tenth grader Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is the most enthusiastic student at Rushmore Academy, and takes part in dozens of the private school’s extracurricular activities, everything from amateur theatrics to beekeeping.

Unfortunately, Max is also Rushmore’s worst pupil, and is failing all of his courses.

He doesn’t have many friends, but manages to make a good impression on Herman Blume (Bill Murray), a Rushmore alumnus and self-made millionaire who is almost as much a social outcast as Max.

One day, Max discovers a hand-written quote jotted down in a library book, and his search for the person who penned it leads him to Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a young widow who teaches first graders at Rushmore. Max instantly falls in love with Ms. Cross and tries desperately to impress her, going so far as to initiate a "civic improvement" that gets him expelled.

Things go from bad to worse for Max when he learns that Ms. Cross is secretly dating his mentor and close friend Herman Blume, kicking off a war between the two former pals that is destined to end badly.

Over the course of Rushmore, we watch as its two main characters become the closest of friends, and, as events unfold, bitter enemies. My favorite scene in the film occurs just after Max discovers the romance between Ms. Cross and the married Mr. Blume. Looking to hurt his ex-pal, Max informs Blume’s wife (Kim Terry) of her husband’s infidelity. Blume is thrown out of his house as a result and checks into a fancy hotel suite, only to be attacked the next morning by a swarm of angry bees (released into the room by Max, who, as mentioned above, has some experience as a beekeeper). Set to the tune of The Who’s "A Quick One While He’s Away", we’re treated to a revenge montage, with each character trying to out-do the other, culminating with Blume having Max arrested for tampering with the brakes on his car. It’s a funny sequence, but with a hint of sadness running underneath as we watch two very lonely people take their frustrations out on each other.

For me, Wes Anderson’s masterpiece will always be 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums, which took his odd worldview and spun it into an amusing, heartwarming tale of a family that has fallen on hard times.

If I had to pick a second favorite from his impressive filmography, it would be Rushmore, a movie chock full of humor and pathos with a keen sense of its own warped reality.

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