January 16th: Rushmore

rushmore-movie-poster-1998-1020204570

Release Date: 1998
Director: Wes Anderson
Why I picked this: I enjoyed Wes Anderson’s recent work

Movies are at their strongest when the visuals alone tell so much about its characters and advance the story. You can tell that Max Fischer, portrayed by Jason Schwartzman, is an outcast simply by appearances. He dresses up differently than the other kids; in fact, he is in the same uniform for most of the movie; he is shown as a leader of multiple organizations, and yet you almost never see him speak to or interact with the kids that he leads. “Rushmore” has all of the visual elements of a Wes Anderson movie: you have your top-down shots, your sweeping shots, one point perspective, the use of intertitles, symmetric shots, slow motion, the focus on text within the movie, etcetera. Anderson creates a hyperreal world, but one more grounded than say, “Moonrise Kingdom.” Still, the movie is populated with eccentric characters, mostly kids are all smarter and mature than they should be. Jason Schwartzman, only 17 at the time of shooting, and making his film debut, carries the movie very well. Schwartzman gives a very nuanced performance, as did Bill Murray as his friend Mr. Blume. Murray isn’t a smartass like his other characters; instead, he’s lonely, unsatisfied despite his financial success, and hates his children. Wes Anderson seems to bring something different out of actors like Bill Murray, as they always give more subdued performances. But these types of performances are fitting for Anderson’s writing and his quirky and witty dialogue. Anderson (and co-writer Owen Wilson) never wastes any time with his very straight-to-the-point dialogue. Scenes never overstay their welcome, they get the characters where they need to be and tell the audience what they need to know. Much more happens in one scene that the audience might not even realize. However, while the selected songs for the soundtrack fit the movie’s tone, the musical score was distracting at points. While “Rushmore” initially captures you with its charm and creates an intriguing world, the charm begins to be lost in the middle of the film when none of the characters are sympathetic, especially Max Fischer with his inappropriate advances on the character of Miss Cross. Still, this movie, like any Wes Anderson movie, is a unique experience, one with themes of maturity, adolescence, death, love, finding happiness, and finding your place in the world.

If you can get past bad character decisions and don’t mind quirkiness, chances are you’ll find something to admire from the movie’s unique visuals, performances, and themes.

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