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    film club I : rushmore

    Regular readers of this blog may have noted that I've been doing a lot more writing about film recently, both because of the film class I taught in the spring and the newfound convenience of getting eclectic films in my hands (via Netflix). This trend is likely to continue for a while, since on my roadtrip to Texas, Skunkcabbage and I decided to try to get together and watch a film a week—ideally to blog about it.

    Thus formed, our two-man film club met for the first time yesterday, starting off with Wes Anderson's Rushmore, a film I picked, not least because it has a few things to say on the perils and joys of club-foundation:

    Those of you who have seen the film will remember that the Bombardment Society is only one of a staggering number of extra-curricular activities that Max (our protagonist) is involved in. Special props to the Criterion Contraption for astutely pointing out something I hadn't fully realized before, namely, that "Max's manias are fueled by unhappiness as much as narcissism," that they form "a calculated campaign of distraction from genuine pain." (Whether my film club and ambient workaholism is the same is a puzzle for some future therapist to figure out.)

    In any case. What I really want to talk about today is not Max Fisher at all, but rather film noir. Skunkcabbage, I think rightly, zeroed in on a faint noir flavor present in the film; in his write-up he refers to the film as "noir played prosaic." I think he's right about this, although I think that, like Hal Hartley, Wes Anderson is influenced less by noir directly, and more by these conventions as filtered down through the French New Wave (specifically Godard). (For an example of how noir conventions might transpose to a school setting without taking this circuitous route, one might try the very fine Brick (2005), by Rian Johnson.)

    One effect that thinking about Rushmore as a noir has is that it highlights some of Anderson's lovely, idiosyncratic choices. For instance, the character in the film who is probably the most traditionally noir-ish is this guy:

    This is the character (winningly played by Mason Gamble) who utters crackerjack tough-guy lines like "I know about you and the teacher" and "Who sold you that crock?"

    Wes Anderson films aren't without their problems (I've written about some of them here), but I really do stand by Rushmore as a great film. I could go on (to talk about Rushmore without talking about Bill Murray's career-defining performance is folly), but I've got other things today that need doing.



    Friday, July 13, 2007
    8:59 AM


    Excited about reading your film blogging. I just posted a reveiw of Bresson's Au Hazard Balthazar over on my infrequent Mulitply blog, I dont know if you've seen that. Next in my netflix queue is Fat Girl by Catherine Breillat. I dont need to tell you how much I like Rushmore, and Royal Tennenbaums.

    I still think you should see Five Obstructions, I think you'd like that alot.
    Next in my netflix queue is Fat Girl by Catherine Breillat.

    Funny, I have been thinking about that movie (which I haven't seen) repeatedly for the last 48 hours or so. Romance is the only Breillat I've seen, but I'd like to see more.

    Next up viewing for me personally is the long-delayed Cache, which I seem to remember you enjoyed.

    Have you seen Brick?
    Ooooo, you havent seen Cache yet?

    IMO, one of the best movies of the 00s. I havent been that impressed with the two other Haneke movies I've seen, Funny Games and Seventh Continent. I think this one was his breakthrough.

    Cache demands close attention. I also have a long and convoluted theory about Cache that I will share with you once you've seen it.

    The reason why Fat Girl was recommended to me, is that there is a scene in Cache that is one of the great cinematic "gut punches" (something so completely unexpected it leaves you breathless - I actually had to pause the DVD to catch my breath). A friend agree but said that Fat Girl had one even "better".

    I was going to see it over the weekend, but I'm going to watch it tonight.
    I saw Seventh Continent years ago, and enjoyed it. Didn't realize they were the same director.
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