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RUSHMORE (1998)

Rushmore - Cover'The Criterion Collection' have recently released a digitally re-mastered version of the 93-minute comedy classic, 'Rushmore'. It was directed by Wes Anderson; it stars Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Olivia Williams; and it's complemented with a number of special features. This includes audio commentary provided by Anderson, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman; a behind-the-scenes documentary, hand-drawn storyboards, audition footage, interviews, featurettes, and a theatrical trailer. Please enjoy.


Rushmore [The Criterion Collection]


THE STORY:
Years ago, when I lived in England, I would often hear people say, ‘It’s Sod’s Law, waiting for a bus; because you wait ages for one of them to come along, when all of a sudden two buses come along at exactly the same time’. And do you know what? That’s precisely how I feel right now — me, Ms Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), elementary school teacher — because I’ve been waiting a long time for a man to enter my life, since my late husband tragically past away, in fact, and now, all of a sudden, two of them have arrived at exactly the same time. 

Although, to be fair, one of these ‘men’ isn’t a fully grown adult! Rather, he’s a 15-year-old schoolboy who attends the same Academy where I work, named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), whereas the other suitor is a homegrown industrialist that’s considerably older, named Herman Blume (Bill Murray).

So which one should I pick? Who should I choose? After all, Max is too young for me, even though he’s very theatrical and very inventive, while Herman is too married for me, despite being fairly resourceful and fairly rich!

Oh dear! I’m not entirely sure which way to turn! Should it be Max or should it be Herman? But then again, that’s most probably why what next transpires goes bang-pow-crash when these two go to war. As a schoolboy realizes what’s wrong from what’s right – a rich industrialist does his best to put up a fight – a sudden realization shows everyone the light – and at the end of the day, a theatrical play gives love some new sight.




THE REVIEW:
‘Rushmore’ is a film directed by Wes Anderson, and as such, it features the type of things you normally expect to see from a Wes Anderson film. This includes: (1) A mannered approach to acting and comedy, which some could say feels fairly placid and dry; (2) A cast of actors who’ve worked with him previously, such as Bill Murray, Seymour Cassel, Kumar Pallana, as well as one of the Wilson brothers; (3) A mixture of classical harpsichord music and 70s British Rock and Roll music, more specifically, those songs performed by The Kinks, The Stones, and The Who, among others; (4) A style of camera work that’s very precise yet very neatly choreographed, similar to the composition shown inside a children’s storybook, tonally, at least; (5) A collection of brisk montage sequences that are always fun to follow, complemented by an appropriate caption whenever needed; And (6) A personal story that isn’t always apparent at first glance. 

Rushmore - Alternate Poster
Yes. I know that’s an awfully long list of traits for one director to possess. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Wes is a predictable director or that he constantly repeats himself. If anything, he always tries to do something new and fresh with every single movie he makes. In ‘Rushmore’, for instance, he basically introduces us to three different people who are attracted to each other in vastly different ways (almost coming across like a perverted love-triangle, so to speak, where each character wants something different from the opposing party).

To see what I mean, let us take a look at the motives of each of the main players: Max (who's obviously the story's central focus) enjoys being around Herman because he aspires to be just like him one day. While Herman (Max's counterpoint) enjoys being around him because he sees something in Max that he once had but doesn’t have anymore. And together, the two of them are attracted to Rosemary (the object of desire) because she symbolizes something they both sorely need — love, true love — all the while Rosemary is attracted to them in turn because they appear to represent some sort of stability she doesn’t seem to possess.

So do you see what I mean when I say that this movie is like a perverted love-triangle? But more importantly, it’s also about something slightly different. It’s about acceptance. It’s about knowing your own limitations and understanding what you can do as opposed to what you can’t. In many ways, this aspect was continually highlighted throughout the film by a select few characters who've managed to find their rightful place in the world, such as Max’s father, for example, the barber, who seems content with his life and doesn’t seem to be disappointed with what he hasn’t been able to accomplish. Unfortunately, Max, Herman, or Rosemary, can’t say the same thing, because, despite their many achievements, they all seem disjointed, fractured, and appear to be looking for something, or someone, that could possibly make them feel whole or complete. Know what I mean?


Rushmore - Bill and Jason


Rushmore - Movie Poster
Anyway. That’s enough of that for the time being. As I think this would be a good time for us to sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) 'Touchstone Pictures' first screened this ten million dollar production at the 'Toronto International Film Festival' on the exact same day they celebrate 'Heroes' Day' in Angola. It was on the 17th of September, 1998, and they eventually clawed back nineteen point one million dollars at the Box Office. (2) The speech we hear at the beginning of the film, as recited by Bill Murray's character, Herman, was partly inspired by an actual speech once given by Robert Wilson, who's the father of Owen Wilson, one of the producers and one of the writers. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Three Is a Crowd' in Mexico; 'The World of Max the Genius' in Japan; and 'Smart Aleck' in Hungary. (4) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of Texas. This includes select parts of Baytown and Houston, most notably Lamar High School [which doubled for Grover Cleveland High School], Saint John's School [which doubled for Rushmore Academy], as well as the Hollywood Cemetery, the Warwick Hotel, Delmar Stadium, Forest Club, North Shore High School, and Kinkaid School. (5) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states, 'All's fair when love is war'. (6) When Bill Murray first read the screenplay for this flick, he liked it so much; he was even willing to star in it for free. (7) Approximately one-thousand eight-hundred teenagers auditioned for the part of Max Fischer, including Jason Schwartzman, and when he came in to audition he decided to wear a prep-school blazer and a self-made 'Rushmore' patch. (8) After this adventure took its final bow, Jason Schwartzman starred in the TV show, 'Freaks and Geeks'; Bill Murray starred in the children's program, 'Stories from My Childhood'; and Olivia Williams starred in an episode of 'Friends'.


Rushmore - End Scene


In closing, I would just like to point out the one thing about ‘Rushmore’ I wasn’t too keen on. No. It doesn’t have anything to do with the placid acting style. If anything, most of the actors did a pretty good job with their respective parts, particularly some of the supporting players, such as Stephen McCole and Sara Tanaka, who played Magnus the Scottish bully and Margaret the oriental love interest respectively. And no, I'm not talking about the numerous film references either. Just like the acting style, I thought they added a nice little touch for those of us in the know (Boy, Wes must sure love Stanley Kubrick!). What I’m actually referring to, fellow film fans, is that on occasion Wes’s overall style, or should I say, 'approach to constructing a story', did detract from the underlying message behind it. So despite understanding the basic premise it attempted to convey — that being a disjointed love triangle between a teenage boy, a wealthy industrialist, and a prudish school teacher — in the same breath, the way the story sometimes drifted from one set piece to another, to and fro, to and fro, inadvertently convoluted what should have been a pretty straightforward narrative. Apart from that, though, all in all, this film was very enjoyable and I can’t wait to see which one Criterion sends my way next.

THE RATING: B+

RUSHMORE (1998) RUSHMORE (1998) Reviewed by David Lee Andrews on October 29, 2018 Rating: 5

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