Thursday, May 14, 2009

Great Movies: She's My Rushmore

By Alec Horowitz

The ending to the Wes Anderson’s début film “Rushmore” says so much without much dialogue. The scene where the teacher Max has pursuing, trying desperately to make his adult crush work and avoid acting his own age, where she takes off his glasses, in the after party of the play Max wrote. She looks at Max. Max thinks this is the fulfillment of his crush. Though, she knows better. She just sees a screwed up and confused kid, and she understands, though he can be intense and seem slightly scary at times, he’s just an innocent kid. Maybe it won’t hurt to dance with him. Wes Anderson makes this scene with nothing but expressions. “Rushmore” is a movie whose script has the light subtlety of a J.D. Salinger novel. It’s the simple story of a kid who’s too intense for his own good, and how he’s slowly coming to terms with this.

Max’s (Jason Swartzman) is a mini wannabe genius. He sits by the cemetery where his mother is buried, and writes plays on a typewriter. His dad is a simple barber. At first in the film, he lies about his father’s profession, saying he’s a doctor, as he sits on the benches and reads “The Powers That Be” by David Halberstam. When Rosemary (Olivia Williams), the teacher he has a crush on, asks him where he is applying to college, he says he’s applying to Yale, Harvard, with Columbia as his safety school. His dreams are big, but he’s also the worst student at Rushmore Academy, the private prep school he is on in scholarship. There is a montage of the clubs Max has created at the private schools. There are many, and it seems creating clubs might be all he does. His academic adviser suggests to him he focuses more on his studies instead of the extra circulator activities. Max asks if he can give him some C’s and “let it slide like old times.” His academic adviser looks baffled at him, watching a teenage boy use the word “old times.”

Max is obsessive and focused. He is so focused and obsessive. He is like a nerd version of Holden Caulfield. He first sees Rosemary teaching her class of kindergarteners, and he is smitten. He is in love. He starts to go after school to visit her, and quickly secures her as his tutor. Though, the tutoring sessions are mostly he not really needing help, but having long discussions on his limited and intense range of topics. He is obviously trying to flirt with her, but doesn’t really know how. Max has trouble making friends, or actually is so focused he doesn’t even try. His own friend is a kid much you than him, whose friendship is based on the fact that he joins the clubs he created. His friend is named Drik and he is the first to figure out Max has a crush on Rosemary. He warns Max against pursuing this, but once Max has an obsession, he doesn’t stop.

Max develops a father son type relationship with Herman Blume {Bill Murray), a intelligent who is disappointed in his sons, two boys who love to wrestle. Max is disappointed in his actual family as well. He considers his father a “simple barber. Though, their relationship quickly takes a turn for the worst as they start to scam against each other trying to win the heart of Rosemary. Bill Murray breaks away from his high budget roles in this films, and starts his side career as a independent actor, which would lead to movies like ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘Broken Flowers’.

What is so wonderful about his performance in this film is that we feel we are looking at a adult version of Max and Herman is looking at a child version of himself. Herman and Max clash. Than they make up. Rosemary, in the end, sees Max had bought Herman, her and them together. Max learns it’s OK to just be friends, and the three oddball friends look at each other. Max goes to dance with his friend, Rosemary, and Herman goes to dance with Max’s age appropriate girlfriend.

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