Oct 18, 2013

[Movies] Rushmore (1998)

When the Glorietta 4 cinemas opened up after a major overhaul (or something to that effect), it was as if everyone had to go see a movie there. Sure you'd have to trek all the way into Makati City just to watch a movie, but at the time those cinemas had the best sound systems, offered great movies and had great amenities in the area like Food Options at the floor below the theaters and of course the massive Timezone arcade.

One of the more interesting features of the cinemas when they first opened was the fact that Cinema 2 was dedicated to art films. It was smaller than the other theaters, but it was unique in how it featured quirkier films that wouldn't normally see a major theatrical release. And while the cinema itself is now just like any other, I certainly made a few memories there.

Rushmore was the first movie that I had ever seen at Cinema 2. And it was also my first Wes Anderson movie. And I guess I was hooked on his beautiful yet unusual movies ever since. And with the global release of the trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel, I figured it would be nice to revisit this now classic film.

Synopsis: Rushmore was a 1998 comedy drama directed by Wes Anderson. He had also co-written the screenplay together with Owen Wilson. The movie received a number of different awards nominations, a number of them for Bill Murray as Best Supporting Actor.

We first meet Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a quirky yet clearly intelligent 15 year old boy who is extremely dedicated to his extracurricular activities at the Rushmore Academy, although his primary academic scores aren't necessarily all that impressive. He eventually meets industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who is unsatisfied with his life and the lackluster performance of his own sons at Rushmore. The two form a friendship based around mutual respect.

But them a new teacher, Ms. Cross (Olivia Williams) joins the Academy, and she quickly becomes the center of Max's attention. But his infatuation is one that Ms. Cross does her best to keep at bay given her role as teacher and of course the age different. And when Herman tries to dissuade Max from pursuing her for his own good, he eventually finds himself falling for Ms. Cross instead. And as much as they work to keep this a secret from Max, we all know it's going to come out eventually.

This movie was my first introduction to Wes Anderson's unique narrative style. He has amazingly complex characters placed in interesting yet seemingly mundane environments facing rather fundamental human concerns. The way he frames scenes and makes generous use of vibrant colors to make scenes pop out at you as a viewer is just phenomenal.

It's hard to determine if Max is the kind of character that you really want to like or root for. On the one hand he's just a frenetic little boy who is dabbling in practically everything during these formative years. On the other, there is no doubt that he's a young man who needs to be held responsible for his actions. But more than anything he is craving attention - external validation from others and this practically drives most of what he does. The trick is when someone is made the singular focus of most if not all of his attentions, and this is precisely what Ms. Cross manages to get herself into just by teaching at the school.

Then you have a rather established comedic actor like Bill Murray clearly enjoying his role here. As much as this movie is partly a comedy, it's not the sort of slapstick humor that we often see Murray thrust into. The comedy is a lot more subtle in this movie and more complex overall. And he rises to the challenge swimmingly and makes for an interesting spoil balanced against Max and his aspirations.

The story seems a bit dizzying and the plot a bit confusion, but it helps to suspend judgements, try not to second guess the characters and just go along for the ride. Like most other Anderson movies, it gets better with every viewing.

And while there are other Wes Anderson movies that I probably like more than this one, Rushmore will always have a special place in my heart. I enjoyed this movie a lot, even back then, and I don't regret taking the time to watch it again from time to time. Thus the movie rates 4.5 hobbies that Max is somehow into out of a possible 5.

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