While Bottle Rocket had effective moments of brilliance that signaled the cinema to come, Wes Anderson made his first enduring stylistic stamp with Rushmore. His later films The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic would expand upon and cement that aesthetic (and I would argue that The Darjeeling Limited begins to caricature it; Wes Anderson being aware of what people expect in a Wes Anderson film, to its detriment), but for me the cream of the crop has always been the tale of Max Fischer, Herman Blume and Rosemary Cross.
Maybe it’s because, at the time of first viewing, the film was such a unique and fresh experience. Or maybe I just dig whimsical and quirky (I recently enjoyed Submarine as well, and some consider that strongly derivative of Rushmore). Maybe it’s the music, the art direction, the performances… so many options! My point is that there are a number of reasons I adore this film, and while I have expected in subsequent viewings over the years to find some weakness in the film that will lessen its impact or value to me, I have yet to find any.
Sure, I’ve heard the occasional disparaging comment from those that saw the original trailer and thought they were in for an entire zany film of Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray playing increasingly horrible, though humorous, pranks on each other, only to be presented with the cinematic masterpiece they got in that expectation’s place. I get that, but I’ve never felt that criticism had anything to do with the film, only to do with audience confusion (watching the trailer now, which is included in the special features of this release, it’s actually a truncated version of the entire film, not just the love triangle bits). And if you feel the film is lesser for not living up to that interpretation of the trailer, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you, even though I think you’re insane.
Rushmore on Blu-ray is an immediate must-buy for me, Criterion Collection or not. In fact, I still own the wonderful original DVD release of Rushmore that Criterion did and, looking at the extras, I can’t honestly say that there isn’t much, if anything, to the new Blu-ray release that makes it different in that respect. Having said that, however, this release of the film is billed specifically as the Director-Approved “Director’s Cut,” with what appears to be a new, better-looking transfer and audio mix, with the smooth menus in that easy-to-navigate style that Criterion has been employing for their Blu-ray releases.
What I’m getting at is, if you own the first Criterion DVD release and are wondering if this is worth a purchase too, then I think so. If you love the film, it has never looked or sounded better. While the extras may be the same, this isn’t necessarily one of those films that I pop in to watch the special features. While I love The Charlie Rose Show interview with Bill Murray, and the Max Fischer Players Presents skits from the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, I think I’ve watched them all maybe four or five times over the course of both Criterion releases. The film, however… I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched it.