The average shift from my old Wes list to the revised one was 1.4 slots per movie, with four of the nine not moving at all. The only films to move more than one position were Moonrise Kingdom and Bottle Rocket, which basically swapped their spots. Generally, my reactions were reinforced rather than changed by this rewatch.
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.
All of Anderson’s films make smart use of music, so I had plenty of options. I knew I wanted Rushmore represented, as I consider that his greatest achievement. But which song?
Wes Anderson is one of the best directors around when it comes to the use of songs in films. He’s different from Quentin Tarantino, who just about exclusively uses existing material to score his films (including, often, the scores of previous films). Anderson blends recorded songs with original film scores (by Mark Mothersbaugh, of Devo fame) and both are an integral part of his movies.
I can’t imagine The Royal Tenenbaums without Mothersbaugh’s baroque score, but neither can I imagine it without Nick Drake’s ‘Fly’ or The Rolling Stones’ ‘Ruby Tuesday.’ And the same goes, maybe even more so, for Rushmore, still Anderson’s best film.
I love highlighting songs featured in movies because it’s a marriage of my two great artistic passions — the peanut butter and chocolate of the entertainment world.
In some cases, a great song is made greater by its association with a movie. In other cases, a great song brings something fresh to a movie in need of the injection. And then there are cases like today’s example, where a song that never made an impression on me is suddenly revealed as great through its use in a film.