It's strange to realize a film that came out the year you graduated high school is officially a cult classic, or "Cool Classic" by the Colony Theater's standards. Yet it's strangely fitting for Wes Anderson's second feature, Rushmore, which confirmed his status as a director to watch and introduced many of the quirks that came to define his work. There have been a thousand stories of misfit high school students who harbor unrequited love for a pretty teacher, or who find a kindred spirit in a disillusioned adult. But Anderson's tale of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), the club-loving young playwright whose bond with Mr. Blume (Bill Murray in the performance that kicked off his renaissance of melancholy middle-aged roles) is threatened by their mutual love for Ms. Cross (Olivia Williams), achieves its own unique voice.
The world of Rushmore feels as exaggerated and mannered as Max's bombastic plays, but the sadness and disconnect that the characters experience—and the bleak, wintry reality of the setting—create a strange sense of instant nostalgia within the film. When it opened here in early 1999, I was less than a year out of high school, and yet it instantly captured those feelings of sitting in a class, writing notes for epic stories reflecting the films and TV that fed my naive view of the world. Rushmore, unlike most teen movies, captures the weird combination of ambition and innocence that fuels the teenage heart, and the final sequence (set to the Faces' "Ooh La La") remains a tearjerker as Max takes a few steps toward growing up. Let's hope he kept on writing awesome plays. Relive Rushmore or see it for the first time at 8 p.m. —Zack Smith