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I can’t live with the guilt of having no proper clue about Wes Anderson’s films, of “not getting him”. I see them, I forget them, and I am left with the feeling that I should have worked harder to understand them and appreciate their achievements better. So let’s go back to all those films that I have seen, that I remember to have found odd in a pleasant way, but mostly that I cannot remember at all.

As I am doing four Anderson film notes in a row (I still shy away from calling those “reviews”… Roger Ebert wrote reviews, I sketch observations, at best…), many things do not need to be elaborated about “Rushmore”, as they are typical of Anderson, a director with a very particular and peculiar visual and narrative style that does not change much across his oeuvre. The one standout thing about watching “Rushmore” again is that I did not like the main character, obnoxious Max Fischer, elitist student of elitist Rushmore academy, master of all extracurricular activities and not half as brilliant as he thinks he is. Anderson has a thing about self-declared geniuses, see “Tenenbaums”, but while in “Rushmore” the misunderstanding about the brilliance of the main character is never deconstructed, in the later “Tenenbaums” the ordinariness of all those child geniuses comes back at them with a vengeance. Is Anderson himself fed up with all this self-satisfaction?

While an initial dislike for Max is necessary to go along with the flow of the film, a change of attitude, and the development of affection and empathy for him would be necessary to appreciate what he’s doing in his quest for love – by the lady he pretends to himself to love, and by the surrogate father he adores, because he represents everything his real father never was.

My attitude towards that Max Fischer, played by Jason Schwartzman, never changed, though. I thoroughly dislike him, want to shout at him and slap him in the face for messing with lives he should stay away from. The one character I liked, unsurprisingly and consequently, is the person who knocks him one in the face, the straightforward, no-bullshit school bully with the charming Scottish accent. I felt like cheering at the knock-out blow.

Again, I was happy to appreciate all the visual bits and pieces, the funny decorations and school projects. I remained a dispassionate observer once I realised that I was rooting for the wrong team, and that Max will not turn out to be sent West, but will somehow appear as the hero to many people who should have every reason to cast him out.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rushmore/

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