Playing Catch-Up With Four Biopics From 2017: All Eyez On Me, Maudie, A Quiet Passion, and Victoria and Abdul


Continuing with my efforts to get caught up on the major films that I saw in 2017, here are my reviews of four biopics!  Two of them are very good.  One of them is so-so.  And the other one … well, let’s just get to it…

All Eyez on Me (dir by Benny Boon)

All Eyez On Me is a movie that I think a lot of people had high hopes for.  It was a biopic about Tupac Shakur, who died over 20 years ago but remains one of the most influential artists of all time.  Starring Demetrius Shipp, Jr. (who, if nothing else, bore a strong physical resemblance to Tupac), All Eyez on Me followed Shakur from his youth as the son of activist Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira), through his early stardom, his political awakening, his time in prison, his eventual association with Suge Knight (Dominic L. Santana), and his still unsolved murder in Las Vegas.  Along the way all of the expected people pop up.  Kat Graham plays Jada Pinkett and tells Tupac that he’s wasting his talent.  Someone who looks nothing like Dr. Dre is introduced as being Dr. Dre.  Another actor wanders through a scene and says his name is Snoop Dogg.  The film last 2 hours and 20 minutes, with some scenes feeling oddly rushed while other drag on interminably.

The main reason why All Eyez On Me fails is that, unlike Straight Outta Compton, All Eyez on Me never figures out how translate Tupac’s legacy into cinematic form.  For instance, when I watched Straight Outta Compton, I probably knew less about NWA than I knew about Tupac Shakur when I watched All Eyez On Me.  But then there was that scene where NWA performed “Fuck That Police” while surrounded by the police and, at that moment, I understood why NWA deserved their own movie.  There’s no comparable scene in All Eyez On Me, which gets so bogged down in going through the usual biopic motions that it never really comes to grips with why Tupac is such an iconic figure.  Combine that with some less than stellar performances and some amazingly awkward dialogue and the end result is a film that is massively disappointing.

Maudie (dir by Aisling Walsh)

Maudie tells the story of Maud Lewis, a Canadian woman who found fame as a painter despite suffering from crippling arthritis.  Working and living in a one-room house with her husband, a fisherman named Everett (Ethan Hawke), Maud Lewis’s paintings of flowers and birds eventually became so popular that one was even purchased by then-Vice President Richard Nixon.

Maudie is a very special movie, largely because of the incredibly moving performance of Sally Hawkins in the role of Maud.  As played by Hawkins, Maud may occasionally be meek but she never surrenders her dream to create something beautiful out the often harsh circumstances of her life.  Hawkins not only captures Maud’s physical struggles but she also captures (and makes compelling) the inner strength of this remarkable artist.  Ethan Hawke also gives a remarkable performance as the gruff Everett.  When you Everett first appears, you hate him.  But, as the film progresses, Hawke starts to show hints of a sensitive soul that’d hiding underneath all of his gruffnes.  In the end, Everett is as saved by Maud’s art as is Maud.

Directed by Aisling Walsh, this is a low-key but all together remarkable and touching film.  If Sally Hawkins wasn’t already certain to get an Oscar nomination for Shape of the Water, she would definitely deserve one for Maudie.

A Quiet Passion (dir by Terrence Davies)

You would be totally justified in assuming that this film, a biopic of poet Emily Dickinson, would have absolutely nothing in common with The Last Jedi.  However, believe it or not, they actually do have something very much in common.  They are both films that, on Rotten Tomatoes, scored high with critics and not so high with audiences.  When last I checked, it had a 93% critical score and a 51% audience score.

Well, you know what?  Who cares?  The idea that you can judge a film’s worth based on an arbitrary number is pure evil, anyway.

Personally, I’m not surprised to hear that audiences struggled with A Quiet Passion.  It’s a very challenging film, one that is more concerned with mood than with traditional narrative.  The film is much like Dickinson herself: dark, uncompromising, sharply funny, and, on the surface, unconcerned with what people might think.  Much as how Dickinson retreated into her Amherst home, the film retreats into Dickinson’s head.  It’s not always the most pleasant place to hide out but, at the same time, it’s so alive with creativity and filled with such a sharp wit that it’s tempting never to leave.

In the role of Emily, Cynthia Nixon gave one of the best performance of the year, bringing Emily to uncompromising life.  Neither the film not Nixon ever make the mistake of sentimentalizing Dickinson.  Her pain is just as real as her genius.  Ultimately, though, both Nixon’s performance and A Quiet Passion stands as a tribute to Emily’s own quiet passion.

Much like Emily Dickinson’s poetry, A Quiet Passion will be appreciated with time.

Victoria & Abdul (dir by Stephen Frears)

If there’s ever been a film that deserves to be known as “generic Oscar bait,” it’s Victoria & Abdul.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not a bad movie or anything like that.  Instead, it’s a very respectable film about Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her servant, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), an Indian Muslim.  While the rest of the royal court is scandalized by Victoria’s close relationship with the foreigner, Karim teaches the Queen about the Koran and encourages her to enjoy life.  The royal court is played by the usual collection of distinguished actors who always appear in movies like this: Simon Callow, Tom Pigott-Smith, and Michael Gambon.  Victoria’s heir is played by Eddie Izzard, which should tell you all you need to know about how the future Edward VII is portrayed.

As I said, it’s not a bad movie as much as it’s just not a very interesting one.  You know that Abdul and Victoria are going to become close.  You know that the Royal Court is going to be a bunch of snobs.  You know that Victoria is going to get a chance to express anti-colonial sentiments that she must surely never actually possessed.  Indeed, whenever the film tries to make any sort of larger statement, all of the characters suddenly start talking as if they’re from 2017 as opposed to the late 1800s.

This is the second time that Judi Dench has played Victoria.  Previously, she played the Queen in a film called Mrs. Brown, which was about Victoria’s friendship with a Scottish servant.  Apparently, Victoria got along well with servants.

 

 

Lisa Reviews on Oscar Nominated Horror Film: The Sixth Sense (dir by M. Night Shyamalan)


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Before I talk about the 1999 best picture nominee, The Sixth Sense, I have to ask — is it really necessary to give a spoiler warning?  I mean, everyone knows that this film has a big twist at the end and everyone’s aware of what that twist is, right?  I’m going to assume that’s the case because, quite frankly, it’s kind of pointless to talk about this film without talking about the twist.  I mean, the Sixth Sense has been around for 16 years and it’s still a film that people seem to frequently talk about.  (For instance, “Why aren’t any of M. Night Shyamalan’s other films as good as The Sixth Sense?”)  If you’re over the age of 20, you really have no excuse for not knowing the twist ending of The Sixth Sense.

But, fair is fair — THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!  

Anyway!  The Sixth Sense is the story of a 9 year-old named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment).  Cole lives in Philadelphia with his harried but devoted mother, Lynn (Toni Collette).  Cole is a withdrawn child, haunted by the fact that he’s constantly seeing and hearing people that nobody else can hear.  As Cole explains it to his psychologist, Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), “I see dead people.”

(And you know what?  That line has been quoted and parodied a thousand times since The Sixth Sense was released but that’s because it’s a great movie moment.  Haley Joel Osment was a great child actor and did deserve the Oscar nomination that he received for his performance in this film.)

Malcolm has some issues of his own.  The previous year, one of his former patients (Donnie Wahlberg) broke into his house and shot him, while Malcolm’s terrified wife (Olivia Williams) watched.  Malcolm feels that he was shot because he failed that patient and that he can achieve some sort of redemption by helping Cole.  Of course, as Malcolm devotes more and more time to Cole, he finds it harder and harder to speak to his wife.  In one scene, Malcolm sits down across from her and tells her all about Cole.  She responds by ignoring him and then standing up and walking out of the room.

And when she does that, your natural response is to go, “What a bitch!” and feel sorry for Malcolm.  Except, of course, Cole really does see dead people.  And, as we discover in the film’s twist ending, Malcolm is one of them.  If his wife seemed distant, it was because she didn’t know he was there.  If she seemed emotionally withdrawn, it was because she was deeply mourning him.  Everyone — including Cole — knew that Malcolm was dead.  Everyone but Malcolm.

And you know what?  Film bloggers like me spend a lot of time making snarky comments about M. Night Shyamalan and his twist endings but the ending of The Sixth Sense works beautifully.  It worked when I first saw it and it has worked every time that I’ve seen it since.  Even knowing that Malcolm is dead, it’s still incredibly poignant to watch him realize it.

And that’s why I’d love to have a time machine.  I would love to be able to hop into my time machine and go back to 1999 and see what it was like for the very first audience that watched this film.  How did they react when they discovered — for the very first time — that Bruce Willis was a ghost?  I’d love to find out.

But, even without that time machine, The Sixth Sense holds up surprisingly well.  Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis tend to get so much attention for their excellent performances that I’m instead going to praise Toni Collette, who does great work as Cole’s loving but overwhelmed mother.  She didn’t get a great catch phrase nor was she a part of a huge twist but the heart of the film is to be found in her performance.

The Sixth Sense was nominated for best picture of 1999.  It lost to one of the worst films to ever win an Oscar, American Beauty.

 

Embracing the Melodrama #124: Maps to the Stars (dir by David Cronenberg)


Maps_to_the_Stars_posterI have to admit that, for the most petty of reasons, I was dreading the 2014 release of David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars.  

This was despite the fact that I happen to be a big fan of just about everyone in the cast and David Cronenberg as a director.  (I still say that Cosmopolis is one of the best films of the decade and I don’t care who disagrees.)

My initial issue with Maps to the Stars — and again, I admit this is really petty — was that Sasha Stone, over the Awards Daily web site, was so damn fanatical about singing the film’s praises.  I have a theory that Sasha tends to overpraise certain films specifically so she can have an excuse to get angry and go off on a rant when they don’t receive any Oscar nominations.  Ever since Sasha went batshit crazy over The King’s Speech beating The Social Network, Awards Daily has pretty much gone from being a site about the Oscars to being a site about Sasha screaming in the wilderness like a biblical prophet (and not one of the interesting biblical prophets, like Elijah.  We’re talking about Haggai here.)  From what I had read about Maps To The Stars and judging from the response that it got at Cannes (where, despite mixed reviews, it did win an award when Julianne Moore was named best actress), this film seemed like the epitome of another deliberate lost cause.

Fortunately, the release date of Maps To The Stars was moved to 2015 and civilization was spared from having to deal with a thousand “If Cronenberg doesn’t get an Oscar, society is doomed!” rants.  Instead, we had to deal with a thousand “If Hillary Swank doesn’t win for The Homesman, society is doomed!” rants.

“Okay,” you’re saying, “that’s great Lisa.  Thank you for whatever all that was.  But what about the movie itself!?  Is it any good?”

Eh … I guess.

I mean, Maps to The Stars isn’t a bad movie.  It’s not bad at all.  It’s just maddeningly uneven.

One of my favorite up-and-coming stars, Mia Wasikowska, has a great role in it.  She plays a schizophrenic, named Agatha, who comes to Hollywood.  Agatha’s arms and the back of her neck are covered with burn scars and she is always taking pills.  She is also obsessed with a vile teen star named Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird).  There’s more to her obsession than you might originally think.

Benjie, meanwhile, has just gotten out of rehab and he is literally one of the worst characters ever.  The film does try to build up some sympathy for him by revealing just how fucked up his home life is.  His fragile mother (Olivia Williams) always seems to be on the verge of collapse.  His father (John Cusack) is a glib and shallow psychologist.  Benjie serves as a stand-in for every child star who has been destroyed by Hollywood.  Unfortunately, the film devotes so much time to Benjie being a monster that it never really allows us to see why Benjie’s a star in the first place.  Evan Bird gives such a boring, uninteresting, and flat performance that you never really buy the idea of Benjie could be a success.  (Say what you will about Justin Bieber, he does at least have a cute smile.  Evan Bird can’t even claim that.)

Agatha meets a lot of people in Hollywood, including a limo driver (Robert Pattinson) who is an aspiring screenwriter.  She eventually gets a job working for actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore).  Havana, herself the daughter of a legendary and self-destructive actress, is a monster but — unlike, Benjie — she’s a sympathetic monster.  She’s a talented actress who grew up in Hollywood and now, because she’s no longer in her 20s, is being discarded by Hollywood.  Havana is as much a victim as a victimizer.

Anyway, the film kinda wanders about.  Along with all the other stuff going on, the characters are regularly visited by ghosts.  Secrets are revealed.  Hearts are broken.  Lives are lost.  And yes, relevant points about Hollywood are made but … well, so what?   There’s nothing in Maps to the Stars that you couldn’t learn from rewatching Sunset Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard is a lot less pretentious.  Plus, William Holden was a much better actor than Evan Bird.

As for Cronenberg’s direction — well, Maps to the Stars is definitely David Cronenberg on autopilot.  It’s filled with identifiable Cronenberg touches.  The emphasis placed on Agatha’s scars, for instance, is trademark Cronenberg.  But still, Cronenberg’s direction often just seems to be going through the motions.  Unlike his work in the far more interesting and challenging Cosmopolis (not to mention Eastern Promises), Cronenberg doesn’t really seem to care that much about the story that he’s telling.

Maps to the Stars is worth watching for the performances of Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska.  Otherwise, it’s just another well-made but only occasionally interesting Hollywood melodrama.

Shattered Politics #89: Hyde Park on Hudson (dir by Roger Michell)


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Is there anything more frustrating than a film that should have been good but yet somehow turned out to be … well, to be rather awful?

Case in point: 2012’s Hyde Park On Hudson.  In this slow-moving and almost painfully old-fashioned film, Bill Murray plays President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  When the film opens in 1939, Roosevelt is being visited by his sixth cousin, Margaret (Laura Linney).  It’s been several years since Roosevelt and Margaret last saw each other.  Franklin’s mother (Elizabeth Wilson) thinks that Margaret’s company could cheer up her melancholy son.  So, FDR and Margaret go out for a drive and, sitting atop a nice green hill, Margaret gives him a hand job.

And it is the most stately and respectable hand job to ever be quaintly portrayed in an American film.

Anyway, the rest of the film deals with FDR’s affair with Margaret.  Eventually, Margaret discovers that FDR has many mistresses but, before she does that, she helps FDR to charm England’s King George VI (Samuel West).  In the days leading up to World War II, George and his wife (Olivia Colman) visit Roosevelt out at his Hyde Park estate.  As we all know from watching The King’s Speech, George is insecure about his stutter.  But, fortunately, FDR points out that, despite the fact that he’s in a wheelchair, people still view him as being a strong leader and therefore, people will view George in the same way, regardless of his stutter.

And, speaking as a former stutterer, I have to say that it’s amazing to witness how poorly Hyde Park On Hudson deals with subject matter that was so brilliantly handled in The King’s Speech.

When I first heard about Hyde Park On Hudson, I had high hopes for it.  After all, I love history.  I love royalty.  I love gossip and I love scandal.  And, really. FDR was one of our more gossip-worthy Presidents, a spoiled rich kid who could not reach his full potential until after he was struck down by polio and who regularly cheated on his wife while battling both the Great Depression and the Nazis.  FDR was a dynamic and controversial figure and none of that comes through in Hyde Park on Hudson.

(Seriously, Bill Murray is totally wasted in this film.  If you’re going to cast an iconic actor in an iconic role, at least give him some good dialogue.)

In the end, Hyde Park on Hudson fails because it’s just too respectful.  It’s a slow, visually unimaginative film that manages to make an exciting time feel dull.  FDR deserves better and so does Bill Murray.

Shattered Politics #87: The Ghost Writer (dir by Roman Polanski)


GhostwriterlargeIn the 2010 film The Ghost Writer, Ewan McGregor plays a character known as the Ghost. We never actually learn the name of his character and that’s perhaps appropriate.  The Ghost has made his living by being anonymous.  He’s a ghost writer.  He’s the guy who is hired to help inarticulate and occasionally illiterate celebrities write best-selling biographies.

The Ghost has been given a new assignment.  He is to ghost write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan).  Despite the fact that Adam is one of the most famous men in the world, the Ghost is not initially enthusiastic about working with him.

First off, there’s the fact that Adam and his wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), are currently hiding out in America because America is one of the few countries that will not extradite him to be prosecuted for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.  It seems that Adam (much like Tony Blair) is a controversial figure because of some of the actions he may have authorized as a part of the war on terror.  Not only does the Ghost have political objections to working with Adam but he has to leave his London home and go to Massachusetts in order to do so.

Secondly, there’s the fact that, once the Ghost arrives in America, he discovers that — for such a controversial figure — Adam is actually rather boring and seems to have very little knowledge about anything that he did while he was prime minister.  Instead, he seems to be more interested in spending time with his mistress (Kim Cattrall, giving the film’s one bad performance).  Ruth seems to be the political (and smart) one in the marriage.

And finally, there’s the fact that the Ghost is actually the second writer to have worked with Adam.  The previous writer mysteriously drowned.  While that death was ruled to be an accident, the Ghost comes to suspect that it was murder and that the motive is hidden in the first writer’s manuscript…

The Ghost Writer is a favorite of mine, a smart and witty political thriller that features great performances from Ewan McGregor, Olivia Williams, and Pierce Brosnan.  Brosnan especially seems to be having a lot of fun sending up his dashing, James Bond image.  Roman Polanski directs at a fast pace and maintains a perfect atmosphere of growing paranoia throughout the entire film. In the end, The Ghost Writer proudly continues the tradition of such superior paranoia films as The Conversation, Three Days of the Condor, and the Parallax View.

Incidentally, I have a theory that Adam Lang was also the unseen Prime Minister who was featured in Into the Loop.  Watching The Ghost Writer, it’s hard not to feel that Adam really feel apart without Malcolm around to help him out.

 

Back to School #71: An Education (dir by Lone Scherifg)


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When I first started this series of Back To School reviews, my plans was to somehow write and post 80 reviews over the course of just one week.  What was I thinking?  That one week has now become one month.  However, even if it has taken me longer than I originally planned, I’ve enjoyed writing these reviews and I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading them.

We’ve been looking at these films in chronological order.  We started with 1946’s I Accuse My Parents and now, 70 reviews later, we have reached the wonderful year of 2009.  It seems somewhat appropriate, to me, that as we finally start to reach the end of this series (after this review, only 9 more to go!), we should take a look at one of my favorite films of all time, a film that was nominated for best picture and which introduced the world to one of the best actresses working today.

That film, of course, is An Education.

Set in 1961, An Education tells the story of Jenny (Carey Mulligan), an intelligent and headstrong 16 year-old girl.  Jenny lives in London with her father (Alfred Molina) and mother (Cara Seymour), both of whom have decided that Jenny will eventually attend Oxford University.  She attends public school, where she’s a star pupil and a favorite of her teacher, Miss Stubbs (Olivia Williams) and the stern headmistress (Emma Thompson).  Jenny is someone who, even at the age of 16, seems to have her entire life mapped out for her.

And then she meets David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard).  David is a handsome and charming older man who, spying Jenny walking in the rain, offers to give her a ride home.  Soon, Jenny and David are secretly pursuing a romantic relationship.  At first glance, David seems to be the perfect dream boyfriend.  He’s sophisticated.  He’s witty.  He knows about art and music and seems to be the exact opposite of Jenny’s boring, conservative father.  And David also has two beautiful friends, Danny (a devastatingly charming Dominic Cooper) and Danny’s glamorous girlfriend, Helen (Rosamund Pike).

Jenny is drawn into David’s exciting circle of friends and, at first, it’s all so intoxicating that the little things don’t matter.  Jenny doesn’t ask, for instance, how David and Danny make their money.  When she finds out that David specifically moves black families into white neighborhoods in order to get people to move so that he can then buy and rent out their former homes, Jenny knows that it’s shady but she pretends not to be worried.  And when David and Danny steal a valuable antique map out of a country home, it’s far too exciting for Jenny to worry about the legality of it all…

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An Education is such a great film, I don’t even know where to begin in singing its praises.  The cast is absolutely brilliant, with Carey Mulligan proving herself to be a star and Peter Sarsgaard being so charismatic that, much like Jenny, you can’t help but get swept up in his world.  This was the first film that I ever noticed Dominic Cooper in and I walked out of the theater with a crush that I continue to have to this day.  The script, by novelist Nick Hornby, is full of witty lines and, even more importantly, it manages to find something very universal within Jenny’s very personal story.  We’ve all had a David Goldman in our life at some point.

However, what I think I really love about An Education is the way that it portrays the excitement of being just a little bit naughty.  One need only compare the vivid scenes in which David and Jenny dance at a club with the drab scenes of Jenny sitting in class to understand why Jenny (and so many other girls) would fall for a guy like David.

Perhaps my favorite image in the entire film is one in which, after having a fight out in the middle of the street, David and Jenny turn around to see Danny and Helen standing out on a beautiful balcony and waving down to them.  The two couples are just so beautiful and so glamorous that it really does become one of those moments where you really do wish you could just step into the movie and spend a few hours just hanging out with them.

An Education is one of the best!

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The Beautiful People (from L-R): Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Peter Sarsgaard, and Carey Mulligan.

Back to School #54: Rushmore (dir by Wes Anderson)


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It’s an understatement to say that Wes Anderson’s films tend to divide viewers.  It seems like critics either love his excessively stylized and quirky vision or else they dismiss him as being a pretentious, overrated, and overly concerned with the problems of the rich and the suburban.  Even among the writers here at the Shattered Lens, there are conflicting opinions.  Leon the Duke gave Moonrise Kingdom a rave review.  On the other hand, I know that Ryan The Trashfilm Guru is not particularly a fan of Anderson’s films.

Myself, I always find it usually takes me a while to warm up to an Anderson film.  With the exception of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, I always seem to find myself somehow both impressed and slightly disappointed after seeing an Anderson film for the first time.  Perhaps it’s because Anderson is such a highly praised director with such a recognizable style that I always tend to go into his film with my expectations set way too high.  And so, I often times end up watching the latest Anderson film and thinking about how much I loved the film’s production design and some of the performances but often times feeling that, narratively, there was something missing.  On first viewing, Anderson’s trademark quirkiness can be overwhelming.  Usually it’s not until a second or third viewing that I really start to appreciate an Anderson film for something more than just the way it looks.  Eventually, I came to love Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel but it took me a while.

However, there is an exception to every rule.  And, as far as my reaction to Wes Anderson’s films are concerned, 1998’s Rushmore is that exception.  Rushmore is a film that I have unquestionably loved since the very first time I saw it.  Maybe it’s because, while Rushmore is undeniably quirky, that quirkiness doesn’t overwhelm the human aspect of the film’s story.  Maybe it’s because Rushmore — along with Bottle Rocket — is the most identifiably Texan of all of Anderson’s films.  Or maybe it’s just because Bill Murray gives such a great performance.

Seriously, Bill Murray makes any movie better.

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Rushmore is named after Rushmore Academy, a private school in Houston.  (Rushmore is quite obviously based on St. Mark’s, which is perhaps the most exclusive private school down here in Dallas.  Owen Wilson, who collaborated on Rushmore‘s script with Anderson, was expelled from St. Mark’s in the 10th Grade.)  15 year-old Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman, who gives a sympathetic performance as a potentially off-putting character) loves attending Rushmore.  He’s involved in a countless number of extracurricular activities and has written and directed several plays, the majority of which are based on films from the 70s.  (We see his stage version of Serpico and it’s hilarious.)

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Unfortunately, Max has a few problems.  For one thing, unlike most of his peers, he’s not rich.  He tells everyone that his father (Seymour Cassel) is a neurosurgeon but actually, he’s a barber.  Even more seriously, Max spends so much of his time starting clubs and writing plays that he doesn’t ever bother to study.  Max is on the verge of flunking out and, despite numerous warnings from Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox), he refuses to do anything to improve his grades.

Instead, Max is more interested in pursuing a crush he has on an older teacher, the widowed Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams).  What Max doesn’t realize is that his mentor, industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray), also has a crush on Ms. Cross.

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While Max may be the film’s main character, Herman Blume is, without a doubt, the film’s heart.  Blume is a Viet Nam vet (“You were in the shit?” Max asks.  “Yes, I was in the shit,” Blume replies) who has literally gone from rags to riches.  And now that he is rich, he finds himself living an empty life with a wife who doesn’t respect him and two sons who are total idiots.  When Blume starts to mentor Max and pursue Ms. Cross, he starts to care about living once again.

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Meanwhile, Max attempts to impress Ms. Cross by building an aquarium on the school’s baseball field.  This leads to Max getting expelled and having to enroll in a public school.  (Max continues to wear a suit and tie, even after being expelled.)  However, Max then discovers that Blume has been seeing Ms. Cross and soon, the mentor and the student become rivals…

And a lot of other stuff happens but you know what?  I’m not going to tell you what because if you haven’t seen Rushmore, you need to see it and discover all of this for yourself.  You won’t be sorry!

It may be named after the school but Rushmore is ultimately about how love and our dreams make life worth living.  For Max, Rushmore is his fantasy ideal, a world that he loves because it provides him a sanctuary from the harshness of the real world.  When Mr. Blume says, about Ms. Cross, “She’s my Rushmore,” we understand exactly what he means.  But, and this is what distinguishes Rushmore from so many other films about quirky love triangles, is that Ms. Cross is just as independent and important a character as Max and Mr. Blume.  Blessed with excellent performances from Seymour Cassel, Brian Cox, Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, and especially Bill Murray, Rushmore is one of Wes Anderson’s best films.

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