- Bottle Rocket was Anderson’s debut but Rushmore is the loud ringing announcement of a major film artist
- Schwartzman, in his debut, is dazzling and shockingly confident—certainly he looks like a young Dustin Hoffman and the coming of age comparisons (the Graduate) is real—also Anderson goes with the underwater shot from the graduate (but with Murray here) to show isolation and alienation—but Anderson (who is wholly and completely his own) owes as much to Scorsese or Hal Ashby or even Truffaut as he does Nichols
- It’s a unique vision, a comedy with an edge
- The start of Murray’s second run (instead of broad comedies in the 80’s) including lost in translation and broken flowers – Groundhog’s day acts as the bridge. There’s true earned pathos here.
- The film is loud in its arrival- Anderson does not ask to be liked
- Film’s soundtrack is loaded with British invasion music but my favorite scene may be the cat stevens song
- 29 year old Anderson—legend has it Murray wrote him a blank check to cover a scene that was never used and Anderson framed it. Murray’s been in every movie of his since
- Form and structure- he unveils the curtain to start—and we have chapter breaks here for the months of the school year
- Anderson’s style is still in bloom here but it’s a far cry from the more straight quirky comedy bottle rocket. It’s a heightened world that isn’t reality
- The slow to fast motion photography blends right into an inspired montage of all of Max’s clubs
- Velvet curtain “September”
- Takes from the godfather “for old time’s sake” … “cant’ do it”
- One-liners galore- “my safety school is Harvard” and “war does funny things to men” with smash bicycles
- It’s not there will be blood but it’s abound unbounded passion- Max is obsessive (like Wes) and he’s not so silently veiled or avatar’ed here as Max is a playwright and director
- Meticulous camera movements—the aquarium shot with Schwartzman and Williams is really inspired- blocked by structure and then a swift movement down into the water. Wes would become more stylized and detailed with his mise-en-scene and décor but it doesn’t mean he isn’t here.
- Murray’s deadpan at the dinner when Schwartzman is drunk is so damn good
- It’s about heartbreak
- The broader comedy doesn’t do much for me like the fencing with basketball going on around him- it’s very early Woody Allen- a sight gag- it’s not bad
- Love Dirk spitting on the Bentley
- It’s hard not to think of the Coen’s with the repetition in dialogue like “making a go of it” and “hand job” (which I think is said 6 times)
- Letters written and typed like all of his films
- Crime montage from the Godfather
- Scorsese influence- stones in slow-motion gorgeous photography but he’s holding a bunch of bees and it’s a prank. There’s irony here of course.
- Detailed screenplay—Murray knows the exact weight of Schwartzman/Max to tell the police—it’s because he was on the wrestling team from earlier
- The “she’s my rushmore” is transcendent writing
- These are three characters with a definite edge (including Murray and Williams). Schwartzman lies about his dad. He reaches really deep down when he’s flying a kite with Dirk and Margaret shows up. He regrounds himself and matures. “take dictation, please” to Cat Steven’s “The Wind”. It’s a brilliant scene and then he introduced Murray to his father which is poignant as wel
- A meditation on melancholy
- Tracking shot of ensemble at the play with all the characters like a “guess who” game- detailed
- It’s a wallop of a film for any age but at 29 we have to talk about a prodigy director
- “oh la la” from the faces song is a perfect summation
This film has one of the most beautiful endings and it tears me up every time I watch it.
Wes Anderson may have made more accomplished films but Rushmore, his sophomore effort, manages to delight and ache at the same time and pushes my buttons precious few films are able to do. It’s a film full of tiniest winks to the grandest gestures in a split second. It ranges from adolescent humors to the pain of adult responsibilities that our protagonist, Max Fischer, possesses the propensity to stir. In a few camera moves and juxtapositions of framing, Anderson is able to sculpt a character study in a short duration while delivering a unique musical flow that charms and surprises, much like a jazz riff but with the precision of an orchestra conductor.
Here, the attention to details hasn’t overwhelmed his best instincts into a plaything or at the risk of self indulgence, like some of his later works, because his heart is always at the right place. Its biographical elements guide him with a sympathy when the character is not always at his behavioral best or lapses into mean-spiritedness. The film manages to charm but isn’t afraid to call out the juvenilism of its characters. The parallel lives of our hero and Herman Blume display beautifully in a reverse symmetry that the young and old are crossing path in different directions: Max is trying to grow up while Herman is rekindling that youthful energy. All roads point to their aptly named love interest, Ms. Cross, played by the beautiful Olivia Williams with subdued radiance. It is her that Anderson finds the story’s emotional center, the lucidity it craves as she chastises Max that he and Herman “deserve each other” for their silliness. They do deserve each other. And this odd coupling creates one of the most unique portraits of friendship in cinema. At the end it’s the willingness to forgive and admission of vulnerability that makes it enduring after all the banters and antagonism that form some of the film’s funniest moments.
The funny bits can’t hide the subtext of class and Max’s insecurity with his blue collar background and the adjustment to the clashing new environment and culture of his new school. Much like life, the support system Max receives more than makes up for it and snaps him out of his defeatist hiatus and the cast of supporting characters are tiny gems that shine bright at the curtain call and illuminate Anderson’s skill at character studies. The sky is bright when all the kites are flying high: our hero has grown up! With the Cat Stevens song in the background, Anderson is able to reshape the trajectory in one fell swoop with his camera: an awesome long shot that has the quality of cosmic embrace that harks back to the best tradition of humanist cinema of the past (of Ozu, Tati, Renoir, Kiarostami, et al). If art is the cognition of life and if Anderson isn’t the sociologist some critics want him to be, to probe deeper into social issues, he manages, at least in this one film, to transcend the mundane with visual poetry. If the over preciousness of his later films give the impression of a rich kid’s toy train, it is here after all that Bill Murray’s character advises the Rushmore students to “take dead aim at the rich boys.” His aim can be as high as the soaring kites but what the film does have is a sense of hope: the hope of living beyond the past like Ms. Cross’ dead husband, the hope of belonging to a new community like Max’ days in Grover Cleveland, and the hope of moving on like Blume’s divorce. This hopeful energy reminds all viewers that the film remains the work of a young man and few films revitalize these older eyes the way this film works and we have Anderson to thank for.
I may not be an Anderson cultist who consumes his brand of quirkiness uncritically. By now he has taken his style to the point of a trademark. If he falters here and there, his diverse stories always give you the hope for the better next time, just like Rushmore. In these movie days of cynicism and over explosions, his cinema at least provides another view of possibility much like the film’s moving ending when Ms. Cross takes off Max’ glasses to see him differently and just as he sees her and the world differently. The world of Wes Anderson is different, indeed.
I love this movie.
@HPN — Magnificent work here- thank you for adding so much to my notes on the film. You are a very good writer. We certainly share an appreciation and adoration Rushmore.
I like the comparisons to Ozu and Tati.
I have a question though– you say “Here, the attention to details hasn’t overwhelmed his best instincts into a plaything or at the risk of self indulgence, like some of his later works, because his heart is always at the right place.” — Do you have some examples of where you thought the attention to details overwhelmed a film?
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