Song of the Day #4,827: ‘Concrete and Clay’ – Unit 4+2

Wes Anderson’s second film, Rushmore (1998), heralded his arrival as a major new voice in independent cinema. Bottle Rocket had made a small splash on the festival circuit, but this movie received widespread critical acclaim, decent box office, and awards season attention.

It also kicked off a renaissance for Bill Murray, who went from being known primarily for comic roles to a go-to choice for portrayals of wry sad sacks. Four years later, he would be nominated for Best Actor for his great work in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

Coppola’s cousin, Jason Schwartzman, made his acting debut in Rushmore. Then 18, he stars as 15-year-old Max Fischer, a bad student and big dreamer at the titular Rushmore Academy. He delivers a sharp, subtle performance as one of the great characters in modern movies.

Max forms a friendship and then a romantic rivalry with Murray’s Herman Blume, a millionaire steel magnate and Vietnam vet with two Neanderthal sons at the school. The object of their shared affection is Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a first-grade teacher and widow.

On this viewing, I was particularly impressed with Williams’ work as Miss Cross. She grounds the film through all of its flights of fancy. I was also amazed by how tangibly Max’s late mother hangs over the film, despite very few direct mentions. The undercurrent of grief beautifully balances the absurdity.

Rushmore has been one of my favorite films since I first saw it 23 years ago. I was blown away by its sense of humor, incredible style, deep sadness, and vivid imagination. Anderson has stretched his talents in many different directions over the past two decades, but (spoiler alert for my upcoming ranking) he’s never topped this masterpiece.

You to me
Are sweet as roses in the morning
And you to me
Are soft as summer rain at dawn, in love we share
That something rare

The sidewalks in the street
The concrete and the clay beneath my feet
Begins to crumble
But love will never die
Because we’ll see the mountains tumble
Before we say goodbye
My love and I will be
In love eternally That’s the way
That’s the way it’s meant to be

All around I see the purple shades of evening
And on the ground
The shadows fall and once again you’re in my arms
So tenderly

The sidewalks in the street
The concrete and the clay beneath my feet
Begins to crumble
But love will never die
Because we’ll see the mountains tumble
Before we say goodbye
My love and I will be In love eternally
That’s the way
That’s the way it’s meant to be

The sidewalks in the street
The concrete and the clay beneath my feet
Begins to crumble
But love will never die
Because we’ll see the mountains tumble
Before we say goodbye
My love and I will be In love eternally
That’s the way
That’s the way it’s meant to be
That’s the way (that’s the way it’s meant to be)
That’s the way
That’s the way it’s meant to be
That’s the way
That’s the way it’s meant to be

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,827: ‘Concrete and Clay’ – Unit 4+2

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I agree that this is one of the better of Wes Anderson’s films. I’ll leave it at that.

  2. Peg says:

    It is certainly one of my favorites as well.

  3. Amy says:

    I’m not sure I saw this film at all when it was first released, as we had a 2 year old at home and didn’t get out to nearly as many films as we did in the years before or after those first years of new parenthood.

    When I did finally see it, it was knowing the high esteem in which you held it. As we’ve discussed/debated for years now (both on and off this blog), coming to something after someone else has set the expectations so high almost invariably leads to disappointment. I remember appreciating this new side of Bill Murray and finding the film enjoyable and interesting but not getting what all the fuss was about.

    I saw it again a couple of years ago with Daniel, who had never seen it. In many ways, it all seemed new to me. And, to be completely honest, if I were to watch it again tonight, I imagine I would have a similar feeling. I do remember SCENES from the film and the clever/attractive way Anderson alerts the viewer to each new activity/club in which Max is participating, but I don’t remember much else.

    I’m realizing two posts in that we’re not likely to get scenes from these films, so I may have to do some digging on my own, but the theory continues to percolate just the same.

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