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Wes Anderson
Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Seymour Cassel, Brian Cox, Mason Gamble, Luke Wilson
Writing Credits:
Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson

Love. Expulsion. Revolution.

The dazzling sophomore film from Wes Anderson is equal parts coming-of-age story, French New Wave homage, and screwball comedy. Tenth grader Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is Rushmore Academy’s most extracurricular student—and its least scholarly. He faces expulsion, and enters into unlikely friendships with both a lovely first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) and a melancholy self-made millionaire (Bill Murray, in an award-winning performance). Set to a soundtrack of classic British Invasion tunes, Rushmore defies categorization; it captures the pain and exuberance of adolescence with wit, emotional depth, and cinematic panache.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$43.666 thousand on 2 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.105 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 11/22/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Wes Anderson, Co-Writer Owen Wilson and Actor Jason Schwartzman
• “The Making of Rushmore” Documentary
• “Max Fischer Players Present” MTV Movie Awards Segments
• “Ars Graphica” Stillframe Collection
Charlie Rose Show Episode with Director Wes Anderson and Actor Bill Murray
• Audition Footage
• Storyboards and Storyboard/Film Comparison
• Trailer

• Booklet
• Collectible Poster


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Rushmore: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 19, 2011)

Back in early 1999, Rushmore earned a whole lot of hipster hype on the Internet. This didn’t translate to big box office – the flick only made $17 million in the US – but the "buzz" took hold and made a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have seen Rushmore attend screenings of it.

I'm one of them. Like many others, though, I couldn't help but wonder what all the fuss was about. I thought Rushmore was a decently amusing and entertaining little film but didn't deserve all of the plaudits it received. I don't always stick with my first opinions, though, especially in regard to comedies. As such, I thought I'd give the Criterion release of Rushmore a try.

So now that I've seen the film a few times, what do I think? About the same. Rushmore is a clever, gently provocative and well-performed film but not one that does a whole lot for me. I enjoy the movie but must admit that even at a brief length of only 93 minutes, it feels somewhat long and seems to drag.

I suppose that while I'll ultimately recommend Rushmore, it'll have to be lukewarm because I'm so iffy about the movie. Admittedly, I can't find any significant flaws in it. The story isn't overly creative, involving essentially a quirky love triangle; as I think the filmmakers would acknowledge, Rushmore owes some serious debts to The Graduate and strongly resembles the subtly subversive tone of that classic.

This film doesn't match up with The Graduate, though it's hard for me to define why one succeeds so much better than the other. I think Rushmore simply seems more self-conscious; the participants appear to try very hard to make a Graduate kind of film so the movie seems a little strained at times.

Ultimately, though, I do like Rushmore; I just can't get too enthusiastic about it. Jason Schwartzman does a fine job as Max Fischer, the nerdy 15-year-old protagonist who manages to be both an overachiever and an underachiever at the same time. While Max rarely resembles a regular teen, that's the point, and it makes those times when his age does become important all the more poignant.

Bill Murray received a lot of positive attention for his role as depressed tycoon - and romantic combatant against Max - Herman Blume, and it's generally well-deserved. While I'd say this is one of Murray's best acting jobs, it's not his best performance by a long shot. I differentiate the two because Murray was spectacularly good in movies like Ghostbusters and Quick Change but he wasn't really required to “act” in those movies. They just relied on his usual brand of shtick, and were all the more successful for it.

In Rushmore, however, while Murray gets some laughs, his typically cocky and smarmy persona is nowhere to be seen, and he actually has to play a person instead of a caricature. Again, that's no slam on his past work, which was brilliant and I think preferable to his performance here; it's just recognition of the different type of work he does here.

Wes Anderson directs Rushmore in a competent manner, but the movie really does drag at times. It starts out well but simply scrapes along during most of the final act; it seems that although the action should heat up, the filmmakers have little left to say until they can limp along to the movie's conclusion. I felt pretty restless during the movie's last 30 minutes or so.

Still, I do like Rushmore, for better or for worse, and it's a title I'll keep and revisit in the future. Will additional screenings reveal any significant nuances that so far escape me? Maybe, maybe not, but the picture's worth a few more looks.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Rushmore appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I had no complaints about this terrific transfer.

Sharpness appeared strong and crisp throughout the movie. Even the widest shots still offered good definition, with nary a smidgen of softness along the way. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as I witnessed no specks, marks or other debris.

Colors were a strong point, as they seemed consistently accurate and well-saturated. The movie featured a warm palette that looked vivid and full, Black levels were appropriately deep and shadow detail seemed good, with no excessive opacity or darkness. I felt quite impressed by this solid presentation.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack suited the movie pretty well but won't win any awards. The soundstage appeared nicely broad at the appropriate times and could really be quite engulfing on occasion. It's a talky little film, so the focus is mainly up front, but the audio expanded when necessary. Surround usage was quite good at times, especially during Max's theatrical extravaganzas. Even general atmosphere – like at Herman’s plant – tended to be engulfing. Given the movie’s focus on dialogue, I was surprised at how much activity the speakers offered.

Sound quality seemed fine. Dialogue always appeared crisp and natural, and I had no trouble understanding it. Music could be a little distorted at times, but that was clearly due to source material; most of the songs came from the Sixties and Seventies and will never sound perfect. Despite those flaws, the tunes were reproduced well and showed some good range. Effects also seemed realistic and adequate for the tasks at hand. Rushmore won't be anyone's demo track, but it worked well for the film.

How does this Blu-Ray compare with the Criterion DVD from 2000? In terms of scope, the audio remained similar, but the track seemed a bit warmer and fuller. Visuals demonstrated a more obvious uptick, as the Blu-ray looked notably tighter, cleaner and more dynamic. It also lacked the ugly edge haloes that consistently marred the prior release. The Blu-ray’s transfer totally blew away the fairly ugly DVD presentation.

We get many of the same extras as the DVD. First up is an audio commentary from director Wes Anderson, cowriter/coproducer Owen Wilson, and actor Jason Schwartzman. Like many Criterion tracks, each participant was recorded separately and their remarks were edited into this piece. They cover story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, and a mix of other topics.

It's a pretty good chat, with a fair amount of interesting statements about the film and its creation. It does an effective job of filling me in on the details, and I find it enjoyable and stimulating.

With The Making of Rushmore, we find a 16-minute, 48-second documentary. It provides a smattering of soundbites from cast and crew, but mostly it focuses on footage from the set. At times, it acts as essentially a visual credit reel; we see shots from the production accompanied by the names of the participants.

That side of things gets tedious, but otherwise, this turns into an enjoyable piece. We see a lot of good bits from the set and these help allow us to get a nice “you are there” perspective. It’s not a program with a lot of information on display, but it’s fun to check out images from the shoot.

A full episode of The Charlie Rose Show appears. The first 33 minutes feature Rose's interview with Bill Murray, while the final 21 minutes show Roses' chat with Wes Anderson. Rose is not a very entertaining interviewer, and I'm not sure he's so bright either; he seems convinced that the story had something to do with Max wanting his face on Mount Rushmore.

Rose has a knack for provoking long discussions with participants but making them ultimately unmemorable; his talk with Quentin Tarantino on Criterion's laserdisc edition of Pulp Fiction appeared similarly flat. As such, this program might be worth a look but don't expect a lot from it. We get some basic discussions of the film from Murray and Anderson but Rose is unable to provoke much meaningful insight.

(One interesting - to me, anyway - footnote: I noticed at least two times that Murray seemed to quote his own films. "Nobody likes a whiner" comes right from Quick Change, and “I’m a mudder” appears to allude to Caddyshack. The weird thing is that he didn't say these as part of his shtick or in any obvious way; they were just part of the conversation and wouldn't stand out if you didn't know his work.

We also find a film to storyboard comparison for the movie's opening scene; this shows the picture in the top half and the board in the bottom; it goes for one minute, 55 seconds. Another area presents the same storyboards plus some from four other scenes on their own. I'm not a big fan of storyboards but these are more interesting than most, mainly because they don't restrict themselves to just drawings; we see a lot of text notes from Wes Anderson as well. (Note that the comparison part just shows the drawings; you'll have to consult the main storyboard section to see Anderson's text.)

Auditions gives us try-outs for six of the actors: Jason Schwartzman, Mason Gamble, Sara Tanaka, Stephen McCole, and Ronnie and Keith McCawley. Schwartzman's segment shows both a videotape and a film clip, whereas the others all feature simply video shots. The collection runs a total of eight minutes, 40 seconds, and it's pretty interesting to see these early attempts by the actors, especially when their first tries are so different from the final efforts.

The 1999 MTV Movie Award shorts offers four different clips that ran during that program. There's an introduction from Max, plus brief "plays" that parody The Truman Show, Armageddon, and Out of Sight. Like Rushmore itself, they aren't super-funny, but they're enjoyable and witty nonetheless.

Under Archiva Graphica, we get some stillframes. These show a crude sketch of the painting of the Blume family as well as the final work. We also can check out a movie poster created by artist Guy Peelaert. They’re interesting to see.

I’m not sure if any other Criterion Blu-rays I’ve reviewed lost extras from their original DVDs, but to my surprise, this Rushmore lacks a bunch of materials on the 2000 release. The Blu-ray’s “Archiva” was more substantial, and it includes two other similar domains; both "Grover Cleveland Society for the Performing Arts" and "Rushmore Academy Productions" showed odds and ends like publicity stills, “play programs” and sets, and other cool elements. Why do these pieces disappear here? I don’t know, but their absence disappoints.

The package’s booklet is less substantial than usual for Criterion, but it does include critic Dave Kehr's useful comments about the film plus a bunch of little cartoons from Eric Anderson. We also find a special collectible poster: with “a map of Rushmore's key events”. While I don't know how collectible it is, it does offer a fun cartoon look at the film.

Does Rushmore provide a wholly satisfying character drama/comedy? No, it falters at times, especially during its somewhat sluggish third act. Nonetheless, it has enough wit and spark to make it worthwhile. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals as well as very good audio and supplements. It’s too bad the Blu-ray drops some of the bonus materials from the old DVD, but otherwise, it’s a substantial improvement, especially since it boasts radically improved picture quality.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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