Rushmore ★★★★★

“War does funny things to men.”

I love this movie, so deeply. Easily Anderson's best - he dips his toes into a lot of the stylistic choices that will completely dominate every movie he makes after this, but without them overtaking everything. The Royal Tennebaums and Life Aquatic are great movies, but the cast are intentionally cartoonish: this is his last movie about real people, and I find it more affecting for it.

The first time I saw Rushmore was in the theaters as a teen, my parents bringing us on an absurdly rare family trip to the movies (I went to the movies a lot, but my family stopped spending time together as a complete group long before this, I think) to see "the new Bill Murray movie" which I knew basically nothing else about. And the surprise at getting this - a movie I definitely didn't fully understand but was immediately in love with - locked that experience into memory. As an adult I understand the movie more, but I'm still viewing it through this dual lens of me as a 16 year old who didn't fit in at his weird private school, who didn't have any grasp on academics and could only relate to the the world around him through movies and television. I'm not saying "I was Max" because I definitely was not as massive a pain in the ass, nor was I a genius play write, but just that I snap into the same sense of frustration and alienation I was feeling then, that Max deals with, that's fairly universal, as soon as I sit down to watch this.

There's a moment during the finale of this movie (the whole third act is a masterpiece but this finale is fucking BUCK WILD) that makes me cry. It's maybe a 3 second shot of Seymour Cassell just before Max's play, where Max dedicates it to his mother. Max has been nothing but ashamed of his family the entire film, and his father takes it surprisingly in stride, and the look of touched surprise on Cassell's face when he hears his son dedicate the play... it's really sweet, it's really beautiful, and it focuses on the reaction of this minor (to the plot) supporting character to show us how far Max has come. It's nice.

What a good fucking movie.