4 Shots From 4 Wes Anderson Films: Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Let us all wish a happy 50th birthday to one of the greatest directors working today, Wes Anderson!  Though Wes Anderson may currently live in Paris, he was born and raised in my homestate of Texas.  While Anderson’s films often seem to take place in their own special universe, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore are still two of the best films ever made about Texas.

(Other directors who were either born and/or raised in Texas or call this state home include Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Terence Malick, Catherine Hardwicke, Mike Judge, Rob Bowman, David Gordon Green, and David Lowery.  Not too bad!)

In honor of Wes Anderson’s birthday, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Wes Anderson Films

Rushmore (1998, dir by Wes Anderson)

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, dir by Wes Anderson)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012, dir by Wes Anderson)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, dir by Wes Anderson)

 

6 Good Films That Were Not Nominated For Best Picture: The 1990s


Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 1990s.

Dazed and Confused (1993, dir by Richard Linklater)

 An ensemble cast that was full of future stars, including future Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck.  A killer soundtrack.  A script full of quotable lines.  Dazed and Confused seemed like it had everything necessary to score a Best Picture nomination and perhaps it would have if the film had been set in Los Angeles instead of the suburbs of Atlanta.  Unfortunately, Richard Linklater’s classic was overlooked.

Casino (1995, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster film had all the glitz of Vegas and Joe Pesci to boot!  Despite being one Scorsese’s best, the Academy largely overlooked it, giving a nomination to Sharon Stone and otherwise ignoring the film.

Normal Life (1996, dir by John McNaughton)

Life, love, crime, and death in the suburbs!  John McNaughton’s sadly overlooked film featured award-worthy performances from both Ashley Judd and Luke Perry and it definitely deserves to be better-known.  Unfortunately, the Academy overlooked this poignant true crime masterpiece.

Boogie Nights (1997, dir by Paul Thomas Anderson)

Paul Thomas Anderson first made a splash with this look at the porn industry in the 70s and 80s.  Along the way, he made Mark Wahlberg a star and briefly rejuvenated the career of Burt Reynolds.  Though both Reynolds and Julianne Moore received nominations, the film itself went unnominated.  Oh well.  At least Dirk Diggler got to keep his award for best newcomer.

Rushmore (1998, dir by Wes Anderson)

Though the film was nominated for its screenplay, the Wes Anderson classic missed out on best picture  Even more surprisingly, Bill Murray was not nominated for his funny yet sad performance.  Murray would have to wait until 2003’s Lost In Translation to receive his first nomination.  Meanwhile, a Wes Anderson film would not be nominated for best picture until Grand Budapest Hotel achieved the honor in 2015.  (That same year, Boyhood became the first Richard Linklater film to be nominated.)

10 Things I Hate About You (1999, dir by Gil Junger)

This wonderful take on Shakespeare not only introduced the world to Heath Ledger but it also proved that a teen comedy need not be stupid or misogynistic.  Because it was viewed as being a genre film (and a comedy to boot!), it didn’t get any love from the Academy but it continues to be loved by film watchers like me!

Up next, in an hour or so, the 2000s!

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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