5.0, United States/Canada


Life as Fiction (Through Time)

Rushmore by Wes Anderson is the yearly favorite from 1998 as listed in Life as Fiction (Through Time): An Exercise in the Clockwork and Constriction of Cinematic History, a project to chronicle my favorite film from each year since 1921.

1998 / Wes Anderson > Not sure how much my familiarity with the soundtrack had to do with it, but my latest viewing of Rushmore was a completely different experience than I’d previously recalled. Seeing it in theatres upon release, when Anderson’s tactics were still fresh, the first half was all the rage while the second half seemed banal at best. But over time, that first half became a sort of gimmick, something to create an illusion of substance when in reality it embodies much of the indie quirkiness that continues to plague current cinema. But now, multiple Anderson films later, I’ve finally realized what makes the film tick isn’t its first half, but rather the second half, which maintains a sense of quiet rumination filled with the appreciation of living and acceptance.

In ways, this is as unusual a coming of age film as there ever may be. While Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer isn’t immediately someone to identify with, his emotional see-saw with Miss Cross (played by the elegant and lovely Olivia Williams) provides an intangible yet definite hook for us to latch onto. He seems the antithesis of what we see in Dangerous Minds, yet in many ways, he’s exactly similar. Nobody said you had to deal with guns and drugs to be a delinquent—You can also do it with “extracurricular activities” like building aquariums on the baseball diamond or tending bees instead of taking exams.

Also impressively, no Anderson film has used music as effectively as Rushmore: The Who backing the revenge sequence, John Lennon supporting Bill Murray’s hopeful Herman Blume and Max’s road back to grace and Miss Cross taking Max’s glasses off to Ooh La La by Faces (where the minor quiver on Williams’ lip is one of the finest moments in my personal cinematic history). All of these are further impacted by the calculated camera work of Richard Yeoman. So beautiful, in fact, that the curtain scene at the end has forever become etched in my memory.

Originally posted on October 25, 2008 before inclusion into (Through Time).