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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Movies - RUSHMORE (1998)

Keep meaning to start writing something about movies on this thing. I really like movies, although for the past few years I haven't gone to see many in the theatre. Most just don't seem that interesting for the price and the experience isn't that much better than watching them at home. Worse in a lot of ways. Anyway, this is the first in probably a weekly look at some movies I enjoy.

Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

RUSHMORE was that fairly rare experience of a movie that caught me almost completely off guard. I only vaguely recalled it coming out, and it didn't seem interesting enough to see. Don't recall anyone talking about it. It caught my eye later when I saw that Criterion had released a special edition of it, and was surprised since they don't do a lot of releases for recent movies. So I rented the tape from my video place, and couldn't believe how good it was. Possibly my favourite movie in the last decade. Certainly in the top five.

Unfortunately that Criterion edition was a bit too pricey, so I just got the regular DVD edition, which is pretty much barebones but at least is widescreen as opposed to the original VHS version I saw. Still, every time I watch it again I'm tempted to get that special edition. That current price for it actually isn't too bad...

Hard to pick up where to start on reasons I liked the movie. I guess the dialogue overall would be the best. It's just great film dialogue, far from realistic but very natural sounding, witty and with a lot of levels of meaning (can someone explain to me how Owen Wilson, who clearly knows good writing from the films he's written, can stand to spout that writing in movies he acts in?). A constant surprise, and I liked how elements from the early part come back later. I also think all the actors just nailed their roles, which were some odd characters. Even the minor ones were convincing, which is pretty good for such a large cast.

Max: Oh, I was gonna try to have that tree over there fall on you.
Blume: That big one?
Max: Yup.
Blume: It would have flattened me like a pancake. What stopped you?

I think what sells the movie is the complete quirkiness. Any of the odd elements taken alone might not work in another movie, but take them all together and they paint a cohesive picture of an odd world that's a half-step away from our own. Such a world is very appealing. I also liked how it's all about changes in relationships, going through several different phases in how each character relates to the others, rather than the one big shift in one relationship that most movies of the type are about.

You can also see some of this quirkiness in the way that the music was used, sometimes just overpowering with long clips accompanying vignettes to make some story points and move the story along. I especially liked the sequences with The Who's "A Quick One" and the Rolling Stones' "I am Waiting", which have a lot of story bits that I'm still just picking up after seeing the movie a dozen times. I also always like a movie tha introduces me to at least one new song I like, in this case "The Wind" by Cat Stevens.

I like this movie more every time I see it. Check it out if you haven't had the pleasure yet.

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