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Rushmore

Rushmore is one of the most beautiful films I have ever watched.

rushmore-high-school-dark-comedy-filmIt is the tale of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a 15 year old student at Rushmore who is captain of every club from fencing to beekeeping, yet failing academically. He is confident and cocksure, and knows his strengths and weaknesses perfectly. It is a story of love, infatuation, and a story of dealing with death and loss. Most of all, it is a story of friendship. Max attends Rushmore, which is a private school that looks like it would cost more than I have ever made in my life to attend for a year and which sets the stage for our film.

Some people coast through life. They do not realize how completely entrenched they are. They are afraid to love, live, and lie. Not Max. Max’s deadliest flaw is that he lives too fully, is too consumed by life, and it is ultimately his downfall and resurrection. He falls hopelessly in teenaged love with a beautiful teacher, Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a woman who’s husband passed away a year before. Max has no mother, his father is a barber, and his mentor an industrialist with little hope, Mr. Blume, played by Bill Murray.

One of Bill Murray’s finest role.

bill-murray-underwater-after-dive-rushmoreMr. Blume is probably my favourite role yet by Bill Murray. Depression is absolutely horrible, but there is something so… ensnaring and captivating about self loathing. Once you hate yourself completely and utterly, there is nothing to stop you. The wonderfully wealthy Mr. Blume is not a happy man, a man who would cast disdain on his own children, even if indirectly, in his opening speech. Mr. Blume is cursed with two boisterous and unruly children who are nothing like him. He is deadpan, calm, expressionless, they are crude and manner-less. When I saw Mr. Blume underwater in that famous scene when he jumps off the diving board, I was struck by an image when he was underwater, watching a child swim bye without reacting. It is like he was in an aquarium looking out, looking out at the world. Because to the fish, to the shark, to the octopus, the aquarium is the world, and the outside is just shapes moving past. Perhaps they are worthy of attention, perhaps not.

smoking-in-a-dark-comedyRosemary, the teacher that Max falls so hopelessly in teenage infatuation with has her own sadness, but no self loathing. She has self respect, and yet she remembers her husband often.

“One dead fingernail”

This is not an uplifting film. It leaves you with the feeling that I most crave from movies, however. That I have witnessed something that I cannot quite comprehend. That I watched something that will change me in some way. That I have been a witness to something powerful. And though it is ofttimes sad, it is a funny movie as well. Watching these eccentrics at war and at peace is beautiful.

“War does funny things to men”

movie-with-dead-parents-high-school-rushmore

The paths of glory lead but to the grave

I first saw the poster for Rushmore on the wall of an English teacher back when I was in high school. I should have watched it back then. I fully recommend Rushmore to anyone and everyone. It is not just one of the best comedies of 1998. It is one of the best films that exists. Watching these polite and dignified characters as they try to maintain composure in the face of agony is both captivating and breathtaking.

While Rushmore is one of the best R rated comedies to exist, it is neither crude nor reliant on gratuitous gore or nudity for its humour. It feels very real, yet surreal at the same time. Because there are characters like the ones in this movie. I have met some even stranger.

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