Like the movies it lovingly details, The Wes Anderson Collection is a beautiful object, a weighty, oversize 300+-pager that’s a physical pleasure to page through. But it’s also a phenomenal work of criticism. Matt Zoller Seitz’s essays incisively tease out the themes in Anderson’s individual films, and his lengthy interviews with Anderson — whom Seitz first covered as a novice filmmaker in the Dallas Observer 20 years ago — are both familiar and exacting.
The book’s been getting rave reviews and selling briskly, and now Seitz is unveiling a series of video essays via his blog at RogerEbert.com. Today, the series hits Rushmore, the movie that first unveiled Anderson’s mature style, and it’s a treat to feast on those images once more while listening to Seitz discuss what he calls one of few “perfect films.” The text is taken largely from Seitz’s essay in The Wes Anderson Collection, but he delivers it in amiably offhand fashion, at one point barely suppressing a laugh. Perhaps his most surprising insight is seeing Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer as a parody of the hyper-confident, rule-breaking heroes incarnated in the 1980s by Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy, as well as Bill Murray, who here plays an older, sadder version of that character. (According to Anderson’s interview, Murray played the part for a total of $9,000, and turned down the offer for a piece of the gross.) More video essays will follow, but for now enjoy the first two in the series, and check out Seitz’ previous five-part video essay series on Anderson, “The Substance of Style.”