Film Review : Rush (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 89%
IMDB Top 250 – #140
Golden Globe Nominee for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Bruhl)

Directed By – Ron Howard
Starring – Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Pierfrancesco Favino

The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

I’m back. Along with having some family matters to attend to, I also have been busy as shit with my real person job and just haven’t been able to sit down and watch a film. I also just realized it’s been over two weeks since I’ve written a movie review and it’s time to get back on the horse. I picked a good film to come back to as the film ended up being a perfect example of powering through adversity and tragedy. I’m back bitches!

When I first saw the trailer for “Rush”, I was honestly not impressed. I remember muttering under my breath that it was going to be a completely cliche racing film with it’s cheap thrills and predictable outcomes. I really have to stop watching trailers and acting like a snob because I ended up really enjoying the film after reading so many positive reviews about it. The film tells the true story of the rivalry between formula 1 drive James Hunt and Nikki Lauda. It reminded me of an excellent documentary that is required viewing for anybody who enjoys racing or even documentaries in general. “Senna”, which chronicles a nearly identical rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, is a fantastic film that should be seen is you enjoyed “Rush” as much as I did. “Rush”, which took some liberties to dramatize the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda, still tells the story of what actually happened in the two years that the drivers were the best in the world. They are stories of true adrenaline filled eras that I don’t think have been seen since.

I think the first thing to be said about “Rush” is that it is an intense ride. Ron Howard, who I’ve always regarded as a very good director, crafted a thing of beauty when he made this film. I was on the edge of my bed watching this. It’s late where I live. I don’t usually watch films this late but I felt the urge to watch something but was a little skeptical on whether or not I was going to finish it. I had no problem finishing this film. The race sequences were some of the best action sequences of the last few years. Howard took advantage of every single sharp turn and car overtake to deliver a ride that made me feel like I was in the driver seat. Recently I drove down to Jersey City where they have some pretty fast go-karts. I think they got up to 45 mph which is nothing compared to the speeds of this movie but just fast enough to be an exhilarating experience. Watching the race sequences in this film put me right back in that kart flying around turns and overtaking fat middle aged men and their wives whom they dragged along onto the go-kart track. I should go back because it was honestly all I could think about watching the film. I didn’t expect that to happen.

The other great part of this film was the acting from both leads. Chris Hemsworth proved to me that he is a fully capable actor. I always thought he was just perfectly cast to play Thor and that his acting skills rode shotgun to a talented casting director but he really can excel in certain roles and he excelled in this. Daniel Bruhl however, stole the entire film. He perfectly portrayed the real life Nikki Lauda. He was able to get me to go back and forth between rooting against him and rooting for him. It’s a shame that most movies only consider one person to be the lead actor, usually the one who gets paid the most or is the most popular but this film proved that there can be two leads commanding the screen and when it really came down to it, Bruhl ran away with it.

I did have a problem with the film. The screenplay, which was mostly solid, failed miserably when it came to Olivia Wildes’ character. She was introduced and before I knew it she was married to Jame Hunt and before I blinked another eye she was gone. There was zero emotion whatsoever between the two of them. I barely saw them even kiss yet I was supposed to feel for them when the nature of their relationship came into question. It was completely necessary to even have her in the film and if the rest of the film wasn’t so engaging, would have completely distracted from an otherwise sound script. There was also way too many shots by Howard depicting nudity where there just shouldn’t have been. I’m a straight male, but even I was thinking “why the hell did you have to have these nude shots that contributed nothing to the film other than the source of erections?” It was just a strange tactic.

Other than that the film was pretty fantastic. It managed to balance the pretty boy lifestyle of James Hunt with the serious and precise lifestyle of Nikki Lauda without coming off redundant or preachy. It successfully ran home the theme that life will give you enemies and that they are just as important as friends. They give you something to be ambitious about and in the case of Nikki Lauda, fight through horrible circumstances. I don’t think it should be in IMDB’s top 250 films of all time but it was an addicting film with some of the best action scenes I’ve seen in a long time.


Film Review – Drinking Buddies

IMDB Score – 6.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 82%

Directed By – Joe Swanberg
Starring – Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston

Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery, where they spend their days drinking and flirting. They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships.

First let me start off saying that I don’t understand this poster. It’s the only poster I’ve seen for this movie and Jake Johnson doesn’t have a beard, which he does for the entire movie. Odd. I guess that really doesn’t matter.

So I’ve been actively trying to see more films that delve into the “romance” genre. I’m still not going to watching any Nicholas Sparks adaptions but a balanced film resume is important because people won’t take you seriously otherwise. Some of my favorite films dive into this category (Lost in Translation, Away We Go, Slumdog Millionaire) and while Drinking Buddies isn’t going to reach that kind of pantheon, I will say I quite enjoyed it.

You’re not going to a classic story of love in this and I think that’s why I liked it so much. It felt more real than most films and there’s a very good reason for that. The film is entirely improvised. Swanberg did a very interesting thing and just let the film play out in however direction it went. The film had a basics story structure but the acting was completely improvised by the cast as there was no script. Besides Wilde, whom I’ve never really seen act besides seeing her in House and a horrible Ryan Reynolds movie I’m still binge drinking to forget, I’m a fan of the major players. Jake Johnson needs to be in more things. He and Wilde were excellent together and really seemed to make the other shine. I honestly didn’t think Olivia Wilde was going to be a good actress but she was fantastic. Her role was a little bit like Greta Gerwig’s character in Frances Ha minus the incredible amount of quirk. Livingston and Kendrick, while not in the film as much as the other two, were both very good and played their characters well considering none of them had a script to work with. What I’m trying to say is that the acting was really good on all accounts here.

Swanberg has some serious talent. I almost decided to skip this because Swanberg was a director on the awful V/H/S but if he sticks with his passion projects, which this seemed to me to be, then I think he has a bright future ahead of him. Some may think that this film is a hipsters dream. The characters work at a brewery. Some have beards and ride bikes to and from their studio apartments and the bar they hang out at has a couch in it but I just found it to be a very well made film that was highlighted by fantastic improvised performances.