Rush reviews

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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:33 pm

There isn't a ton to say about Rush. Thematically there's nothing really going on. What I wasn't prepared for was how much this film propelled itself on the strength of Hunt & Lauda's A-personality rivalries. What this means is the film teeters between lean and pompous, and the racing is always kept close to POV even when covering a wide spectrum of spectators which is both admirable but also confirms in my mind that racing is kind of dull. Rush has a Pearl Harbor-like beauty to it that's intermittently stunning and irritating. I'm a little surprised it's not being mentioned more for Cinematography, not because it should win but because it's the kind of thing that usually does.

Rush is a feat on two fronts: the acting and Ron Howard's direction (the latter is not a compliment). Daniel Bruhl is great. In no way shape or form is he supporting. He's a brilliant asshole. And Chris Hemsworth may not be getting much attention nor does he really deserve it, but he carries the film quite well and often-times I felt like I was watching Heath Ledger. Man, is that guy missed! As for Ron Howard, he directs the shit out of every frame. Rush is as close to expressionism as he'll ever get, and it doesn't matter. It's still not terribly exciting. I genuinely question what ideas Peter Morgan conjured during the writing process of this film. It's like nobody had any ideas during this film aside from imagery.
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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:53 am

I was expecting something more than what is essentially a rehash of Grand Prix.

The film's box office failure pretty much scuttlebutts Daniel Bruhl's Oscar chances although he could resurface if no one else caches fire. Yes, it's a co-lead, but Bruhl is not a Hollywood name and the role isn't flashy enough to have made him a star overnight. It's the kind of role that if nominated would traditionally (at least since 1980) be nominated in support.
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Re: Rush reviews

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:28 am

I would also like to add that another thing that's helping Daniel Bruhl is that Supporting Actor, right now at least, is still a fairly flexible category while Lead Actor is already a tight competition between 7 to 9 guys already. Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Redford and Joaquin Phoenix are competing for the 5 slots and if any one of them falls out, Christian Bale, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and maybe even Oscar Isaac are waiting in the wings.

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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:06 pm

Other people chimed in on this film in the Review thread, but things tend to get lost there, so I'll comment here -- with the proviso I've read what others said, and am mostly in agreement. This is a watchable enough movie, but anyone claiming Ron Howard has made some sort of breakthrough is hallucinating. It's another real-life re-enactment, whittled down to a mano a mano by Peter Morgan , whose view of life is distressingly binary. (As in, the other drivers don't even appear to exist in the film's universe. At one point I thought I heard the name "Andretti" mentioned, as if he was the equivalent of a spear-carrier, which is pretty far from reality)

I thought some scenes had some kick, but the film's thematics are fairly weak. The epilogue about Hunt -- that he only ever cared about winning once, that he died so young in live-fast/leave-a-good-looking-corpse fashion -- suggested a more intriguing character than the one I watched for two hours. (And he seemed a bit tidied-up for Howard-land: when his wife mentions "the drugs", the obvious raction is Huh? -- howcome we didn't see that?)

I have to somewhat disagree with BJ about the Lauda character. i didn't think he was portrayed as snivelling villain. For me, the most interesting tihng about the film was the fact he was portrayed as a guy who simply wasn't very likable -- and it didn't always proceed from actions; at times (like in the vote prior to the crash) it was simply the fact he was proposing something that made people react against it. The unfair fact about life is that some people, by force of charm, get things easily, and others who work alot harder are denied because people in general just don't take to them.

Even though this was the most intriguing element of the film, I thought it worked against the narrative in the end, because, when Hunt triumped, I was uncertain how I was supposed to feel about it -- he clearly only won because of bits of circumstance (including near-death) that took his rival off the board, and yet he celebrated as if he'd achieved something major. Dealt with in a better film, this moment might have been pleasingly complex...but, since Howard is incapable of such a thing, it just came off confusing.

Bruhl and Hemsworth are clearly co-leads. I think the campaign to push Bruhl in support is in line with contemporary "get as much Oscar gelt as possible" strategy, but also proceeds from the fact that Hemsworth is, by virtue of Thor, a "star" name, and the fact that Hunt is the charismatic leading man while Lauda is the runty character actor (which actually harkens back to the original idea of the supporting category). Note: I'm not classifying Bruhl as some sort of unattractive character man; in any real world terms, he's perfectly good-looking. But in a Hollywood where, in Heaven Can Wait, Dyan Cannon is passed off as the booby prize, he plays second fiddle to the blondey.

The film's unexpected box office fizzle doesn't help Bruhl's cause, but Nick Nolte two years ago survived such financial disappointment. The film should still get the sound/maybe editing nods that Grand Prix picked up five decades back. (By the way: I see Tapley is promoting this film for visual effects based on its racing scenes. Wihch makes me ask, What's the point of honoring special effects that only create what used to be done with standard camera work?)

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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:58 pm

As someone who's despised the arbitrary expansion of the Best Picture category from 5 films to up to 10, this looks to me like the first year where the idea may be justified.
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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:12 am

Variety

September 3, 2013 | 08:51AM PT

Peter Debruge
Senior Film Critic@AskDebruge


Mozart vs. Salieri. Kennedy vs. Khrushchev. Gates vs. Jobs. Add to that list of epic clashes Formula 1 adversaries James Hunt and Niki Lauda, whose larger-than-life bout for the 1976 world championship title fuels Ron Howard’s exhilarating “Rush” — not just one of the great racing movies of all time, but a virtuoso feat of filmmaking in its own right, elevated by two of the year’s most compelling performances. It’s high-octane entertainment that demands to be seen on the bigscreen, assembled for grown-ups and executed in such a way as to enthrall even those who’ve never watched a race in their life.

With the film opening opposite “Prisoners” on Sept. 20, audience skepticism could give “Rush” a slow start in theaters, as folks question why they should care about such a subject — or wonder what Howard, who has spent the past decade churning out respectable middle-brow entertainments, can bring to the material. But if Universal gives word of mouth a chance to build (screening the film at the Deauville and Toronto film festivals is a good start), they should have a huge worldwide phenomenon on their hands.

The hook couldn’t be simpler: “Rush” pits two personalities from opposite ends of the spectrum against one another in a sport where the stakes are no less than life and death. An Austrian with an innate gift for racing but no sense when it comes to social interaction, Lauda (as played by “Good Bye Lenin’s” Daniel Bruhl) is the pragmatist to Hunt’s British playboy. Already plenty dashing in real life, bad-boy Hunt proves even more irresistible in the hands of “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth, who makes Hunt’s driving look like the least reckless thing about him.

Whereas Hollywood screenwriters tend to give us clear-cut heroes and villains, real life deals in far more ambiguous rivalries, and Peter Morgan’s script manages to deliver complicated personalities with elegance and efficiency, relying on these two fine actors to flesh them out onscreen. The two racers meet in the lower divisions, where Hunt sparks a deep animosity with Lauda by pulling a risky move that could have gotten them both killed. However irresistible the call of glory, “Rush” makes clear the potential cost of ego by depicting an accident early on: The car has smashed through a barrier and the driver is nowhere to be seen, replaced by an ugly smear running down the length of the hood.

“Twenty-five people start Formula 1, and each year, two die. What kind of person does a job like this?” asks Lauda at the outset. Those who know what happens to Lauda can appreciate the gravity of his question, which perfectly conveys the edge-of-your-seat incredulity with which sane, feet-on-the-ground types watch such races. Nothing could be worth putting oneself in such danger, even in ideal driving conditions, and yet, the visceral thrill is undeniable — and the mere presence of a worthy adversary enough to push great racers to peak performance.

Modern audiences have been conditioned by the sheer volume of bad screenwriting they encounter day in, day out to be wary of scripts that articulate their own themes as eloquently as humanly possible. “Rush” is such a film, a rare thing where every utterance is “on the nose,” and yet so perfectly calibrated, it would be a crime to force the characters to bury their thematic concerns in subtext. Who needs inane reality-show naturalism when you can have life-and-death philosophy delivered at 200 miles per hour?

As Hunt cavalierly describes his car (in Morgan’s words, of course), “It’s just a little coffin, really, surrounded by high-octane fuel all around — for all intents and purposes, it’s a bomb on wheels.” No wonder the ladies find him so damned sexy: Every time at the wheel could be his last. Even Lauda, with his pinched-in cheeks and rat-like face, has spent more time on the brink of death than any sane mortal hopes to experience in a lifetime. Hunt seems to view the time between races as bonus rounds, to be lived to the fullest, and the movie doesn’t shy away from depicting his R-rated habits — or the streak of spontaneous romanticism that inspires him to propose to model Suzy Miller within moments of meeting, condensed from a courtship of several weeks in real life. (As Miller, Olivia Wild makes a strong enough impression one can’t help but envy Hunt’s chutzpah.)

“Rush” works so well because Lauda embodies everything Hunt isn’t, and though he too has the good fortune of meeting and marrying a compatible woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) during the 1976 season, their relationship signifies something safer, more calculated and built to endure. Both racers buy their way into Formula 1, where Lauda engineers a faster car, but Hunt embodies the reckless spirit audiences have come to love. It would be too easy to paint the Germanic pragmatist as the villain here, but the film is more balanced than that. It’s as if two completely antithetical philosophies are on the line, and the only way to settle the dispute is on the track.

The thrill of “Rush” would stall if the off-road scenes were any less dynamic, but of course, it’s the racing moments that take the film to the next level. Howard seizes the opportunity to innovate in these sequences, denying the boredom inherent in watching fast cars zip round and around the same track, and integrating compact digital cameras directly into the automotive machinery itself. He takes audiences places that human eyes could never fit as the cars hurtle forward at top speed, pioneering an intuitive visual logic that flows from the stands to the cars to the subjective perspective of the racers themselves — never more frightening than during the climactic Mount Fuji Circuit race, where rain reduces visibility and the drivers may as well be steering by “the Force.”

Though “Rush” extends across the duration of Hunt and Lauda’s hyper-competitive 1976 season, no two races resemble one another, as Howard and editors Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill find ways to condense an astounding amount of story into a hyper-efficient 123-minute running time. Another filmmaker might have made it shorter still, and yet, Howard recognizes the vitality of every moment, how any sacrifice would diminish what makes these two characters so relatably human. Meanwhile, the racing footage is white-knuckle stuff, even — or perhaps especially — when one of them is out for the count, watching on TV while he has his lungs vacuumed in hospital.

To witness this level of storytelling skill (applied to a subject only a fraction of the public inherently finds interesting) is to marvel at not only what cinema can do when image, sound and score are so artfully combined to suggest vicarious experience, but also to realize how far Howard has come since his directorial debut, 1977’s bang-up “Grand Theft Auto.” The technique is so cutting-edge, it’s impossible to tell where the practical photography ends and visual effects begin — and besides, the two leading men are so enthralling, audiences’ minds have little time to drift away from the human-interest story at its core.

Too often in the intervening years, Howard has played it safe, but here, his choices are anything but obvious. He embraces the power of music to heighten the experience, but goes the opposite direction that one might expect with it, using Hans Zimmer’s cello-driven score to steer things to a deeper place. The same goes for the story itself: Who else would have imagined Formula 1 as an appropriate conduit for existential self-examination? And yet, you’ve seldom felt more alive in a movie theater than you will experiencing “Rush.”

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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:09 am

Hollywood Reporter

Rush: Film Review

8:57 AM PDT 9/3/2013 by Todd McCarthy


The Bottom Line

The lead actors shine in an engaging look at the two fierce rivals who battled it out for the Formula 1 championship in 1976.

Ron Howard returns to the high-speed roots of his directorial debut, Grand Theft Auto (albeit with a budget probably a hundred times bigger), with Rush, an involving Formula 1 racing drama centered on the nasty mid-‘70s rivalry between two drivers who couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl excel as, respectively, British wild man and hedonist James Hunt and Austrian by-the-books tactician Niki Lauda. Limited American interest in European Formula 1 means Universal won’t be seeing anything resembling Fast & Furious business at the box office, but international returns could be very substantial.

Most modern-era car racing movies, from Grand Prix and Le Mans to Days of Thunder, have been far stronger at portraying the excitement on the track than at developing interesting downtime drama among the characters. But rather the reverse is true with Rush, which offers perfectly coherent racing coverage but devotes far more time to exploring the personalities of two drivers who represented behavioral polar extremes and drove each other to distraction.

It’s a credit to Peter Morgan’s screenplay that one can come to understand and sympathize with both of them, even though there are many reasons one might not easily warm to either one. Just as young ladies threw themselves at the great-looking Hunt literally by the thousands (one line describes his sexual prowess as "immortal"), female viewers might be persuaded to attend a racing film simply because of Chris Hemsworth, who looks fantastic with his long blond locks and ready smile and has finally found a role he can really score with in every sense of the word.

His looks and devil-may-care attitude aside (at one point he ventures that women like race car drivers because of “our closeness to death”), Hunt is the kind of figure who dares you to take him seriously; he stays up all night before races, never abstains from sex and is seen taking swigs of booze right before races. Purists and the more serious-minded are bound to disapprove of this guy, as they did in real life.

Offering a 180-degree contrast is Lauda, who comes from a conservative Viennese background but defies his family by taking up racing. He buys his way onto teams and is meticulous about engine specs and team discipline. An all-work and no-play guy, he cares nothing for ingratiating himself with his team members, and his abrupt marriage proposal to the pragmatic and supportive Marlene (Alexandra Maria Lara), formerly a girlfriend of film star Curt Jurgens, feels more like a business venture than a love match.

Physically, Hunt taunts Lauda as “my ratty little friend,” and with pasty brown face and protruding teeth, the Austrian, awfully well played by Daniel Bruhl, really does resemble a rodent. He’s a chilly character, for sure, brusque and officious; as the guy who will be behind the wheel, he’s not asking for love from his Ferrari team, just maximum effort to put him in a position to win the F1 championship, which he does in 1975.

With his former team falling apart, Hunt, who has married high maintenance blond beauty Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde), is desperate to do “whatever it takes to beat that prick,” ultimately hitching on with McLaren despite their wariness over his erratic reputation. Presenting atmospheric snippets of the 1976 season’s early races in Sao Paulo, South Africa, Spain and Monaco the film creates an impressionistic rather than dramatic picture of a racing season that sees Lauda jump ahead in points.

Morgan develops a dovetailing emotional dynamic between the drivers when, after rubbing it in with Hunt that his wife has left him for actor Richard Burton, Lauda finally marries Marlene, only to find that happiness seems to be a detriment to his driving success. By contrast, Hunt’s edgy turbulence in the wake of his very public embarrassment eggs him on to drive faster.

The turning point comes at the Nurburgring track in Germany, aka The Graveyard, notorious as the most dangerous course on the F1 circuit. The rainy conditions compel Lauda to propose cancelling the race, but Hunt leads the move to vote it down. Sure enough, the meticulous Lauda then has a terrible accident; he’s stuck in his burning car for more than a minute and suffers terrible burns to his head and lungs.

The recovery, shown in more than sufficient detail, is terribly painful; his lungs must be vacuumed, and trying to put a helmet is purest torture. Lauda both blames Hunt for the accident and credits him for motivating to get back on the track an amazing 42 days later, but not before Hunt pummels a tasteless journalist who asks Lauda at a press conference if he thinks his wife will stay with him now that he looks so bad.

In Lauda’s absence, Hunt has made up a lot of points, but the Austrian puts on an amazing display, so that the championship will be determined in the final race of the season, in Japan within view of Mount Fuji--and in heavy rain.

In the wake of the season, the two men remain at odds—they are far too different and too competitive to ever be friends—but they do understand each other in a way that perhaps only fellow professionals can. We’ve never gotten particularly close to these very distinct personalities, but they’re interesting and lively company for the two hours they’re onscreen due to the sharply etched performances of the two leads.

That’s more than you can say for anyone else in the film, as Morgan hasn’t bothered to add more than one dimension to any of the other characters nor to provide especially memorable dialogue.

The racing footage is serviceable enough, although there are no attempts at the sorts of amazing shots or extended bravura driving sequences that previous filmmakers have sometimes pulled off. Rather than brilliantly clear, Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography has something of the grubby visual quality of ‘70s films, particularly of international co-productions of the time, which is sort of amusing.

It’s startling to be reminded of how flimsy and delicate the cars of the time looked and of how common it was for drivers to be badly injured or killed. The very fine and successful 2010 documentary feature Senna underlined that fact and may actually have been an impetus for this film’s creation.

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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:36 am

Eric wrote:I've noticed a few sites are basically putting all their chips on him flat-out winning at this point, tho I guess 12 Years could propel Fassbender to the top, and word is also strong for Geoffrey Retch in The Book Thief. Still, at this point, this is looking like the softest of the four acting races.

There's also apparent interest in Jared Leto in Dallas Buyer's Club (people who went in expecting to rave about McConnaughey are singling Leto out instead).

It's rare these days to have so many supporting candidates from films not perceived as central to the best picture race. That, as you say, could help Fassbender, whose vehicle will be more widely seen/praised.

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Re: Rush reviews

Postby Eric » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:29 am

I've noticed a few sites are basically putting all their chips on him flat-out winning at this point, tho I guess 12 Years could propel Fassbender to the top, and word is also strong for Geoffrey Retch in The Book Thief. Still, at this point, this is looking like the softest of the four acting races.

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Rush reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:22 am

I know, I know: Ron Howard. But word on Bruhl's performance in particular is hot.

Screen International -- posting (unusually) before Variety/HR, because the film was screened in London.


Rush

2 September, 2013 | By Mark Adams, chief film critic

Dir: Ron Howard. UK-Germany. 2013. 122mins

Ron Howard’s exhilarating and exciting delve into the fast and furious world of Formula 1 motor-racing is set against the backdrop of the sport during the 1970s, when everything about F1 was sexy, dangerous, edgy and thrilling. Taking the real-life rivalry between playboy British driver James Hunt and methodical Austrian Niki Lauda as its central story, Rush is the immersive, vibrant and gripping story of two men who were all abut winning.

Ron Howard directs impressively and seems to have a real feel for this most international of sports and is aided by a smart, clever and well structured script by Peter Morgan and wonderfully immersive cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle.

This independently made film brilliantly recreates the era, with Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl quite excellent as Hunt and Lauda. No doubt hardcore F1 fans may pick holes at certain aspects of the film (some tracks can never be replicated and staging crashes is notoriously hard), but petrol-head film fans will lap up a thrilling film that is driven by energy, intelligence and conviction.

Screening at the Toronto Film Festival and opening in the UK a few days later (it had its world premiere in the UK on September 2) the film is due a more limited release on the US later in the month via Universal, but in truth the very nature of F1 is that it is a truly international motor sport, and the film smartly plays on that aspect and should help it appeal to F1 and sports fans around the world. The success of documentary Senna showed there is an appetite for motor racing, and backed by good reviews Rush could well click with worldwide audiences.

The intense rivalry between Hunt (Hemsworth) and Lauda (Bruhl) during the 1976 championship is well recorded, as is the terrible crash that saw Lauda seriously injured and spend months in rehabilitation. But the film does not take the route of keeping that crash as a pivotal plot point, instead it simply forms part of the patchwork of incidents that helps define what drives these two very different men, which is actually the heart of Rush.

When the film opens, both men are struggling to make their way up through the ranks of the sport. Hunt relishes his playboy image while racing in Formula 3, backed by corpulent, upper class, champagne swiller Lord Hesketh (as lovely cameo from Christian McKay), he may well be all about the sex and cigarettes and booze (and always threw up before a race), but when he stepped into the car he was all focus and extravagant driving skills. Lauda, on the other hand, used family connections to get his drive, but his focus was on planning, precision and not taking undue risks.

Both men can’t stand each other, but Hunt feels especially annoyed when Hesketh pulls the plug on a planned F1 team while Lauda gets a drive. In one delightful scene, a grumpy Hunt is playing with his Scalextric (a electric car racing game) when he gets a phone call offering him a drive with the last team not to have a driver in place.

The film follows the crashes, the romances and the politics of the sport as the two bitter rivals struggle to take the top spot in the rankings, with Lauda’s terrible crash and scenes of his agonising convalescence among the best parts of the film, and certainly acting as moment in the film when the fun-and-games takes second place to the terrible realities of F1 racing.

Though on paper the more heavily built and muscular Australian actor Chris Hemsworth (who starred as God-like superhero Thor) shouldn’t be an obvious call to play the slight, long blond-haired, James Hunt, but he nails the accent and mannerisms and gets better and better as the film draws on. Daniel Bruhl is a dead-ringer for Lauda, and is quite brilliant in the role. Both are at heart oddly unsympathetic personalities, but the film makes the most of their love/hate relationship (okay, it was mostly hate) as they grudgingly come to acknowledge that each needed the other to drive them on.

Ron Howard directs impressively and seems to have a real feel for this most international of sports (and one that has never had the recognition in the US, where NASCAR rules) and is aided by a smart, clever and well structured script by Peter Morgan and wonderfully immersive cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle. Rush is a fine and exciting film, likely to find a welcoming audience.


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