22 August 2008

Rushmore (1998)

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson
Full credits from IMDb

Before Rushmore’s theatrical release, supernerd Anderson arranged a private screening for one of his adolescent heroes, the critic Pauline Kael. Predictably, the film mystified Kael, then retired and nearing 80: Rushmore, like Indian food, ain’t for grandmas. In fact, Anderson, like MySpace, often elicits confusion in those as young as 30. Some one-time enthusiasts feel they’ve since outgrown him. But a decade after Kael asked the director “Did the people who gave you the money read the script?” Rushmore’s jokes still snap and the director’s distinctive leitmotifs look and sound as fresh as they did at the film’s premiere: the deep-album soundtrack and Futura fonts, the baroque set-dressing and meticulous horizontal compositions. (Anderson’s juvenile characters move laterally because they’re incapable of “moving forward”.) Though a Gen-Xer by birth, Anderson is Generation Y’s defining (pre-Mumblecore) filmmaker and the
solipsistic, apolitical Rushmore is still the L train era’s signature film. With its simultaneously under- and over-achieving hero, a generalist and a monomaniac, and its metacynical deadpan, Rushmore is the missing link between ‘90s slackerism and aughties hipsterism. Unfortunately, the film’s self-indulgent heirs, from Mutual Appreciation to Juno, have lost Anderson’s adult perspective and abandoned his trademark moral: that growing up means getting over yourself.

From the program notes for The L Magazine's SummerScreen series. Rushmore screens on Tuesday, August 26, at Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool.

Watch the trailer:

1 comment:

The Film Doctor said...

I agree. I just watched Charlie Bartlett on DVD, and I was stunned by how much the makers of that film stole from Rushmore, from the shot composition, to its use of a high school play, even down to the minor characters. Rushmore strikes me as Anderson's best film for all of the reasons you mentioned. I also like the way he incorporates high school yearbook design into the scene summarizing Max Fischer's achievements.