Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Boy, what I great movie. I just love it more and more. In fact, the first 3 Wes Anderson joints are all classics in my book (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) - all 3 co-written with Owen Wilson. Quality seemed to fall off after The Royal Tenenbaums - is it coincidental that Wes was no longer writing with Owen? I know Owen's been a total movie slut lately, and obviously, he's a troubled guy - but, in my book, he's the real deal.

I could go on forever about Anderson's whole style: casting and recasting wonderful actors, the brilliant production design, the quirky plots and characters, even the sans-serif font (Futura Bold) he uses for the titles - love it all.

But, to keep this fairly short, here are some thoughts after last night's viewing:

- I love the music. Wes and I share the same taste in music: 60's/70's folky, baroque pop. Has there ever been a cooler juxtaposition of image and music than the Who singing "Dang! Dang! Dang!" from the live version of "A Quick One While He's Away" while Max Fisher walks out of the hotel freight elevator in slow motion, having just let bees loose in Herman's room? There are so many moments like that. The use of the Kinks "Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Worrin' Bout That Girl" earlier in the film is masterful, just cut perfectly. Let's not forget the use of under the radar classics like the Creation's "Making Time", Cat Stevens' "Here Comes My Baby" and John Lennon's "Oh Yoko!". Can you imagine if this movie had been scored with the typical Hollywood banality? How about James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" to lively up that scene? Ugh.

And the closing moments of the film, when Max has the DJ cue up the Face's "Ooh La La". OK, I am a music snob, and this kills me - but I have to admit I wasn't familiar with that song when I first saw the movie in 1998. I've never been a Rod Stewart fan, so I had never explored the Faces catalog. I didn't realize that there were non-Rod songs in their repertoire. The song was written by band members Ronnie Lane (RIP) and (future-Stone) Ron Wood. Ron Wood sings the song, and I gotta say I'd love to hear him sing that during a Rolling Stones concert. Hmmm, well, I'm guessing he probably doesn't have much say in that band. After all, he's still the new guy after 32 years.

- Jason Schwartzman. How the hell did he pull that off? The kid effortlessly carried the movie and held his own with talented vets like Bill Murray and Brian Cox. What an amazing film debut.

- "Oh, are they?" - Max's response to Luke Wilson, explaining that he is wearing OR scrubs. This ad lib (suggested by WIlson) still kills me in the dinner scene. Not to mention Max's pathetic cry, "I wrote a hit play!" That line captures being a drunk 15-year old misfit perfectly.

- Bill Murray's facial expression when he is introduced to Max's father, the dentist (Seymour Cassel) - not the neurosurgeon Max had bragged about. Murray manages to wordlessly convey surprise, heartbreak and compassion in a 2 second span - it is a beautiful moment.

- The exchange between Ms. Cross and Max, when they discuss their dead loved ones. Max's aside, "One dead fingernail" captures the hopelessness of her grief, and the realization that she must move on.

God, there are just so many moments like this. I could go on forever. Ok, here are a few things that bug me every time:

- What is up with the Scottish kid? The whole Scottish brogue thing is just annoying and a distraction. And why is he wearing that cast? Usually, I like little unexplained character quirks, but this one rubs me the wrong way.

- There is a glaringly false moment in the film that pisses me off every time. When Max is finally starting to find his way at Grover Cleveland High, we see him as a male cheerleader. Ok, this is fine, this works with his character. But then, Anderson submits us to a horrible movie cliche - sudden and unexplained physical prowess. Max runs and does a series of running back flips like a world-class gymnast. Not since Don Ameche busted out some break dance moves in Cocoon has there been a more fake moment in a movie. We love Max because he is a goofy guy with great ambitions, but with normal limitations. It makes sense when he is quickly thrown down on the mat in the wrestling sequence. That's the Max we have bought into. I don't know who the hell the guy is doing backflips across the gym. That is not Max. I should just edit that out of my dvd.

- What the hell happened to Olivia Williams? Not since the bizarre disappearance of Karen Allen has someone so talented vanished off the pop culture radar. Rushmore, the Sixth Sense and then.... Jason and the Argonauts? Yeesh.

So, did I make you want to watch this movie right this second? I hope so. I'm ready to put it on again myself.

1 comment:

lisa said...

His father was a barber- not a dentist.