Using the then-novel idea of having not just a loser but a real loser (the now-iconic Max Fischer, played by Jason Schwartzman) as a protagonist, Anderson made us feel sympathetic toward someone whose character was, at best, baffling. Fischer, a failing student at an elite private school, has dedicated his life to extracurricular activities. He befriends a sad-sack industrialist (Bill Murray in the role that would lead him to Lost in Translation) and develops a romantic interest in a tutor (Olivia Williams), not because she at all resembles the teacher in that famed Van Halen video but because she treats him with simple respect.
With skilled direction from Anderson and equally skilled musical underpinning from sound-track maestro Mark Mothersbaugh, Rushmore presents the protagonists eccentricities and inevitable path toward unhappiness in a humdrum manner, letting the dry humor bloom almost effortlessly. Its this simultaneously innovative and natural-seeming approach to filmmaking that makes the movie worth seeing. (That, and all the local landmark-spotting.) 11:55 p.m. today and tomorrow. 2009 West Gray. For tickets and information, call 7138668881 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com. $8.25.
Fri., Jan. 18, 11:55 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 19, 11:55 p.m., 2008