No 175 - Rushmore
Director - Wes Anderson
I love Wes Anderson, I have already spoken about my love for him in my rambly blog entry on The Royal Tenenbaums., which is my favourite film. Rushmore, however, is the favourite film of quite a few people I respect and admire such as Phil, my former housemate and the excellent comedian Miss Josie Long. This is reason enough for me to explore it.
Wes Anderson has a very distinctive style, both visually and thematically, so it is always comfortable to slip into one of his films. The big change in this film is the focus of the protagonist. The most common theme for his films are that a father figure is stubborn and self involved and needs to come to terms with the outside world. Here instead of a father we have a 15 year old boy. Max Fischer is rude and insular, delusional and petulant. He has these ideas that he is sophisticated and adult, yet he still throws massive petty sulks when he doesn't get his own way. He is not an immediately likable character. But he is fascinating.
The film is also littered with Anderson regulars. Small parts from actors such as Dipak Pallana (who only appears in Wes Anderson films, in tiny roles), Dipak's father (another actor who has a career forged by Anderson) Kumar Pallana and Seymour Cassel, who is the SPITTING IMAGE of Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's Up. On a side note, how cool is THIS?!
We then move to the larger cameos from Luke Wilson and the main roles themselves. Max Fischer, played by Jason Schwartzman at his most Sylar looking (I think it is the eyebrows), and Mr Herman Bloom by the fabulous Bill Murray.
Bill Murray is fabulous, and has created this wonderful new identity for his Autumn years, which other actors in his former gang have failed. Whereas in the past he was manic and wisecracking, Murray seems to be at his best nowadays when portraying the opposite. He is still a very funny man but it is a far sadder comedy from with bored heartbroken faces and just general stillness. And he has an excellent moustache in this film - surely that needs to be mentioned.
As well as being Max's story, this film follows a sort of love triangle between Max, Hermon Bloom and Olivia Williams' character Miss Cross. Occasionally Olivia Williams would say quite sexual things in her very posh English accent and it made me feel a bit funny and goosebumpy. Most of the time you're just in shock that Max can't see how inappropriate the whole thing is. He acts out on large grand stunts to show how much he cares for Miss Cross, and is encouraged by the wealthy and massively damaged Mr Bloom. Together they decide to throw as much money and deceit into the process to try and win Miss Cross.
It is only through the help of his school friends that Max finally has his moment of realisation and sorts out his life.
When discussing his school friends, there is only one person worth talking about. Th adorable Margaret Yang played by Sara Tanaka. Seriously, you couldn't have a more sweet and lovely character in a film. Her perseverance at looking after Max and the sheer adoration she has to him and her little smiley face. She is literally adorable. Bless her.
And it is through her that we get the best bit of the film. The film's grand finale and easily the most bonkers part of the film. Wes Anderson doesn't really shoot action sequences and yet Max puts on a Vietnam War set school play. It is like Michel Gondry doing Platoon. It is genius.
Bombs. Explosions. Helicopters. A working flamethrower. This is without a doubt the greatest school play ever.
As well as being 5 minutes of insanity in the middle of a character piece, it also sets up Margaret Yang as Max's girlfriend and sort of irons out the 'love triangle'.
It is not a neat ending, but life doesn't have neat endings. It is beautiful mind and ends in that lovely slow motiony way which Wes Anderson always seems to use.