Week of May 29, 2002

May 29, 2002 at 4:00 am
Reel Late Midnight Movie Series. The Tivoli Theatre presents a summer series of classic and destined to be classic films. This week features Wes Anderson's Rushmore (1998). This determinedly offbeat youth comedy centers on fifteen-year-old Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), who devotes every ounce of his being to a posh educational institution named Rushmore Academy. It's not studies that magnetize him; it's his idea of the place as its own solar system, where he can join (or found) clubs about anything from debating to the fine points of dodgeball. But Max isn't a character, he's a masochistic construct. What's worse, the film aims to be empowering as well as slapstick-poignant. So Max uses his one semiauthentic talent -- amateur theatrics -- to get the recognition he wants and make everyone he likes happy. All that saves this jejune fantasy from the pits is Bill Murray's performance as an unhappy tycoon. He brings some comic traction to his and Max's push-pull friendship. Murray used to take over movies with careening zigzag moves. These days he's more apt to lean back and take the measure of lunatic situations -- albeit with his own bent yardstick. Still, not even Murray can keep the picture afloat while Max tries to pursue his crush on an attractive (and widowed) first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams). The movie peters out like a cozy, nothing daydream. Also playing this weekend as part of the series is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Both play at midnight May 31-June 1 at the Tivoli. -- Michael Sragow