#4: Rushmore — dir. Wes Anderson
Having Wes Anderson this high up on the list probably labels me some sort of hipster. Some arthouse tart who sniffs his own farts in a wineglass. I’m cool with that assessment. That doesn’t faze me anymore. If you find him too twee, too hoity-toity, too whitebread, that’s cool. You never experienced his movies. And I don’t mean like you never watched them. I mean you never got into the marrow.
It’s easy to dismiss Wes Anderson. His films got formulaic for a while — weird 70’s vibe with a nebbishy protagonist who does quirky shit and then falls in love with someone from a foreign, non WASP-y culture. There’s variations to that theme, sure, but it’s at least there in the DNA. But that’s not the point.
For the longest time, my favorite Wes Anderson was Bottle Rocket, his first. It was the reason why I couldn’t stand watching Owen Wilson “act.” Because I saw his manic potential, and everything else felt like he was putting on a charade, this sort of stoner persona, like a broke-nose McConaughey.
Most people favor Royal Tenenbaums or even Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox. He’s gone ensemble in the later period, and I’m cool with that. He almost always collaborates with another screenwriter/director. And it’s hard to say, “Oh, I hate when he pairs with X.” Roman Coppola. I hated Darjeeling but I loved Moonrise Kingdom. Noah Baumbach. Life Aquatic was eh, but I fucking loved Fantastic Mr. Fox. But I loved everything he did with Owen Wilson as he co-writer.
Rushmore spoke to me. As someone who was in like eighteen clubs. As someone who was writing plays all through college and some high school. I felt a fake like Max Fischer. A pretender who didn’t understand how love works and thought he was special. Only without the maturation at the end. I think every other line is quotable. Not the entire film. But at least every other line. The opening quote for this writeup changed at least twelve times. “With friends like you who needs friends?” “Fischer! I always wanted to be in one of your fuckin’ plays!” “O R they?” The line about quitting clubs and writing plays and focusing on scoring chicks. So many. SO MANY.
So if being a Wes Anderson fan pigeonholes me, put me in my cubby. I’m totally cool here.