For my 30th birthday a couple of months ago, my awesome wife completed my Wes Anderson collection with the final addition of Rushmore to my DVD library. And I’m here to tell you that it’s neither hipster-like or clichéd for a former film student to love the films, or better yet movies, of Wes Anderson.
The previous time I’d seen Rushmore, I was in film school and it was everyone’s “favorite film”. I’ll be honest, it was surrounded by way too much hype, something I’m often guilty of myself (sorry Danimal). I’d heard lines quoted so often, and the actual flick just didn’t do it for me. It just seemed to relish in its own irony. Yeah, yeah, yeah I get it, the kid shoots beebee guns and drives go-carts, very nice. Though, I do remember that the music was great and that I absolutely loved the hotel bee scene.
Then on Christmas Eve, 2001 in NYC we saw The Royal Tenenbaums and something happened to me. Not only did I add a film to my Top Ten (where it soundly remains), I also had a stark realization. I discovered that Wes wasn’t using beebee guns and go-carts to show how hip and ironic he was. This guy actually loves beebee guns and go-carts, he’s completely earnest about these type of things. He probably is a keynote speaker at beebee go-cart conventions.
This is a discussion my esteemed colleague Matt has argued now for a while: earnestness is the new irony. I’ve since heard this term, or something like unto it used to describe other films and music, but Matt used it first (I think).
So, watching Rushmore for the second time, I was reminded how amazingly detail-oriented Wes is. We’re talking METICULOUS. You can tell that he directs every prop, every costume element, every word uttered, and every note played. The result is nothing less than an opus for the earnest.
PS: I’d also like to take a moment and touch on the redheaded stepchild of the Wes Anderson filmography, good old The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. This flick doesn’t get credit it deserves. Let’s once again apply the earnest theory to this one. What we have here is the realization of every 13 year-old boy’s pencil sketches. There’s an ex-warship transformed into a high-tech exploration vehicle. It has a helicopter, a minisub, and forward observatory. The crew wears beanies, Adidas, and carries Glocks. And, of course, there’s the constantly topless script girl. Like I said, every 13 year-olds’ dream. So if you love Glocks and minisubs, and enter this one with an open mind, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.