Rush

RUSH

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Rush Formula 1 racing reached its most exciting and dangerous time in the ’60s and ’70s, and for a time the sport’s biggest stars were James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The two men approached racing from completely different perspectives, with one in it for the fun and celebrity while the other appreciated its meticulous nature and the allure of being the actual best. Ron Howard hasn’t made a compelling film in well over a decade, and the last one that fully entertained was 1996’s Ransom. So yes, I’m more than a little surprised that his period piece about a sport that means nothing to me is a film that enthralls from the first scene and never lets up its grip. The acting and details are strong throughout, with Brühl in particular delivering the dramatic goods, but the racing drama is equally exciting. It’s a damn fine film, and it shows that Howard isn’t out of the picture just yet. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]

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2013review_trailers

What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Movies and moods and ideas and awards and stars and sexiness and just a lot of great music. And maybe, just maybe, something more (read: more movie tickets). Not every great trailer advertises a great film, but sometimes even the most lackluster productions can gift movie fans with two minutes of cinematic glory (all the better if said trailer can include Kanye West screaming or Nicole Kidman redefining “cold” or even the glories of street dancing) worth lauding all on their own. This year saw a vast batch of standout trailers, and while our listing of best trailers of the year is nothing if not varied, all of the videos contained within share one key element – they effectively conveyed tone and feeling without revealing too much about plot and characters. As mini mood pieces, these thirteen trailers nailed it, as bits of marketing, they made us want to buy and buy big time.  What were the best trailers of the year trying to sell? Oh, it doesn’t matter – we were ready to buy.

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2013.moviedoppelgangers

Every year, there seem to be unintended themes emerging from movie releases. It’s almost as if the studios called each other to coordinate projects like friends in high school planning to wear matching outfits on a Friday. Sometimes this effect is unintentional, like when an emerging movie star manages to have multiple films comes out the same year (see Melissa McCarthy below); other times, it’s a result of executives switching studios and developing similar projects (like the infamous Disney and DreamWorks 1998 double-header grudge match of A Bug’s Life vs. Antz and Armageddon vs. Deep Impact). This year is no different, producing a slew of movie doppelgangers. For the sake of creativity, I left the painfully obvious off. Still, who can forget offerings like Olympus Has Fallen up against White House Down as well as This Is the End paired with The World’s End? And, if you really hate yourself, you can watch a terrible trippleganger of A Haunted House, Scary Movie 5 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Whether it’s similar themes, the same actor in noticeably similar roles, or parallel stand-out moments in two films, this list of 13 movie pairings can provide a nice selection of companion pieces for your viewing pleasure.

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I have a pet theory that Ron Howard is like Spielberg without all the cinephile love. They’ve both done broad genre work, fantasy adventure and prestige films that earned Oscars. They’ve had giant successes in just about every realm, and they’ve also had monumental failures. They also both continually push to learn new things, both from a content standpoint and technical perspective. It’s also impressive that Howard has evolved so thoroughly that we often don’t even think about him as a child actor who emerged to continued success. For several generations, Howard has always been a sophisticated filmmaker with a wry sense of humor and a keen ability to deliver a fist-pumping moment of Hollywood satisfaction. Every once in a while, the realization that he’s been in the industry since he was six hits home and puts his career into both a surprising and completely sensible context. Of course he’s done what he’s done…and yet how many child actors can make the same claim (or have enjoyed the same enormity of success)? So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who just can’t grow a beard as well as Spielberg.

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ENTERTAINMENT-US-RUSH-WRITER

Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan have taken a real liking to each other over the years, and for good reason. With Frost/Nixon and Rush, the two have produced critical darlings that pit opposites against each other. While the 2008 drama was about fighting with words, Rush – which portrays the Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) — the battles are done on a race track. Morgan wrote about their budding relationship out of pure, personal interest. This started off as a spec script which eventually led to a $50m British indie, not your standard Hollywood-produced Oscar contender. Of course it also helps when a storyteller has some distance from the story. Here, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter talks about time’s effect on biographical movies, his collaboration with Howard and what he modeled the structure for the Rush script after.

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Beautiful Mind Commentary

Ron Howard is at his best when he’s directing award contenders. “Oscar bait” would be the cynical way to label them, but the sincerity of Howard’s movies makes it difficult to approach them with that type of mindset. As much as I love Night Shift and Parenthood, those movies were sometime ago, and since then, Howard has jumped from making lightweight entertainment to audience-friendly dramas. After the Robert Langdon movies and The Dilemma, I hoped to see him make more movies like A Beautiful Mind. He’s now returned to that territory with Rush. What makes Howard’s take on material like the Formula One rivalry work is the amount of fun he brings to potentially heavy drama. He certainly achieved that balance with A Beautiful Mind as well. The movie may deal with mental illness, but the espionage segments of the film are as exciting as a Bond movie, and there’s genuine joy to be found in the romance. For the release of Rush, I gave a listen to an engaging Howard with the commentary he supplied for his 2001 Best Picture Winner. Here’s what I learned.

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Senna

Ron Howard’s Rush opens with a curious bit of voiceover – Daniel Bruhl, acting as Niki Lauda, tells the audience that he’s known for two things: his feud with fellow Formula One racer James Hunt (played in the film by Chris Hemsworth) and the accident that nearly claimed his life. In the context of the film, it’s not a weird choice, as most of Rush centers quite firmly on the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt that its third act plot point – the one about Lauda’s horrific accident and his subsequent recovery – feels almost shoehorned in. But it is strange because the Lauda storyline is, on its own, extremely compelling stuff. Sure, Howard’s film attempts to comment on the nature of competition and how having a professional nemesis can drive certain people to great things in a pretty definitive way, but anyone who knows anything about Niki Lauda knows that it was his accident that really defined him. James Hunt was simply a part of that. Rush is fine as is, featuring some great performances and one hell of a third act, but it’s a misfire because it doesn’t give its all to the very best part of the story and just go pedal to the metal on a true Niki Lauda biopic. Fortunately, for anyone who isn’t compelled to see Rush right now (or perhaps ever), there’s an available alternative that makes Howard’s latest blockbuster look easy, emotionless, and utterly middle of the road. It’s called Senna, and […]

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Rush

Ron Howard is kind of an everyman’s director. He isn’t above his audience, knows exactly what they want, and generally gives it to them without pandering. Sometimes the end product doesn’t workout — see The Dilemma or the Robert Langdon movies to learn that the hard way — but when it does, the final film can be quite special, especially if Howard really has something to say. With Rush, he definitely does. It’s easy to see why Howard was attracted to the characters at the center of Rush including competing Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The film raises questions every filmmaker must grapple with: What is success? How do you overcome failure? And how can one bring personality and passion to a business? The balance of art and commerce is something Howard’s dramas — Cinderella Man, Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and A Beautiful Mind — have achieved in the past, and so does Rush.

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Rush

With the mega popcorn movie season over we’re starting to see summer recap articles flooding in, and so far, most have painted summer 2013 as underwhelming or downright horrible. Maybe some of those writers just didn’t see White House Down. But, in general, this past season was packed with a variety of good-to-terrific options, from the likes of Frances Ha, Only God Forgives, and The Way, Way Back to The Great Gatsby, Fast & Furious 6, and This is the End. There were a lot of gratifying offerings. There were letdowns, too, but what summer doesn’t have a few disappointments? The same will go for this fall movie season, which, as of right now, is looking excellent. Here are 10 movies that should make going back to school, work, or whatever else you got going on a little more tolerable:

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Rush

Today the third trailer for Ron Howard’s upcoming Formula-1 historical dramatization Rush hit, and much like the second one did after the first, this new look at the rivalry between legendary drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) looks at the story from an entirely new angle and sets an entirely different tone. The first time around Rush got sold to us as a dramatic period piece about a legendary rivalry that took place in a dangerous world. The kind of thing that would be right at home during awards season. The second look at the film made it seem much more like a popcorn movie, as the focus was on flash, speed, sex appeal, and explosions. This time around the focus seems to be put much more firmly on Hemsworth. Not only do we get introduced to his character by having him painted as being a ladies man and a charismatic superstar (we even get to watch him seduce Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer), but then the trailer takes a turn and zeros in on the character arc that he goes through over the course of the film. Gone is the equal rivalry of the first trailer, and in its place is the question of whether Hunt—our apparent protagonist—can rise to the occasion of beating the untouchable racer that is Brühl. Whether that’s an accurate interpretation of the end product here or just a shrewd means of drawing in fans of Thor remains to be […]

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Film_Teddybear_613411a

One of the things I love about the latest Fast and Furious movie (whatever it’s called, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 6 or my own title, “Planes, Tanks and Automobiles”) is its casting. Not only is the ensemble made up mostly of hyphenate professionals who weren’t originally actors (including a wrestler, a bodybuilder, a former Miss Israel, a couple music artists, a couple martial artists), but a few of them are rather fresh faces to film, new to the franchise and surely on the rise in their movie careers. As much as I look forward to seeing what each does next, I’m also excited to have a new reason to spotlight the fairly recent breakthrough performances that likely got them this gig. In addition to using the opportunity to recommend those films, none of which has been seen by nearly as many people as will see a Fast and Furious movie, I’ve compiled a broader list of movies to now watch after seeing Fast & Furious 6. It’s partly a way to note some of its forebears and possible influences without going my usual negative route of criticizing this as a derivative work. It’s obviously imitative to a degree yet it’s also highly original in some of its stunts and their execution. Besides, just as in music we should accept and appreciate derivatives for their potential to lead fans backward to their (often better) predecessors. Of course, there are some reminiscent predecessors I’d rather not choose to recommend (Cars 2, […]

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Rush

Call it the Fast and Furious effect, but this new trailer for Ron Howard‘s Rush certainly seems far sexier and speedier than the last look we got at the fact-based racing tale. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl face off in the film as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, talented and celebrated drivers who became mired in one of sport’s greatest rivalries back in the seventies. While the first trailer made no bones about the drama of the film – Lauda was the victim of a horrific race crash that nearly claimed his life, burnt his body, and sent him into a coma, and he still came back to race Hunt – this new look is all fast cars, fast cuts, and even a glimpse of a couple of stars getting it on in the shower. The film also stars Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jamie de Courcey, Pierfrancesco Favino, and Natalie Dormer so, like we said, sexy. After the break, check out the pulse-pounding new trailer for Rush.

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Rush

Okay, Ron Howard, this will do just fine. For his first post-The Dilemma directorial outing, Howard has returned to his dramatic roots with another true life story that should fit in quite nicely alongside Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon. Howard’s Rush centers on one of sport’s greatest rivalries and one of the most wrenching comebacks in the history of athletics. The fact-based film stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, respectively. Hunt and Lauda were long-standing rivals on the F1 circuit, a rivalry that was both shaken and reinforced by Lauda’s 1976 crash that left him with extensive facial burns, damage to his lungs and blood, and in a weeks-long coma. Despite the heavy Hemsworth presence in this trailer, Rush is ostensibly focused primarily on Lauda’s life and his amazing comeback, with that action framed up against his rivalry with Hunt. Only six weeks after his horrific accident, Lauda returned to racing with an intent to beat Hunt and win the F1 title (one determined by a point system). The first trailer for Rush looks absolutely stunning, and if the final film lives up to this new bit of marketing, we’re in for one hell of a treat. Not sold yet? Did we mention that Olivia Wilde co-stars? Buckle up and check out the first trailer for Rush after the break.

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Welcome back to everyone’s favorite Friday afternoon mini-feature: Movies Getting Released on Days. Just kidding! It’s the Release Date Round-Up! Yee haw! This time around, we check out the latest dates for Summit Entertainment’s feature adaptation of a beloved YA novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which has been shoved safely away from either Liberal Arts or The Master (your call), along with three very special (read: very different) Universal films, all getting the boot around the release date schedule. Break out your day planners, and read on for new release dates for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Oblivion, Mama, and Rush.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of links and thinks from around the world of movie and television news and reviews. It spends its weekends racking its brain trying to cull together the strength to go forth with its usual Monday entry, knowing full well that it can’t spend all of its page space on Mad Men and Game of Thrones. This is a movie website, after all. We begin this evening with a shot from Rush, the racing movie about Formula 1 driver James Hunt starring Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde. Director Ron Howard and his leading lady have been tweeting them like crazy. Including pics of Hemsworth and Wilde getting married as Hunt and his wife, model Suzy Miller. I chose the one above to highlight because it’s badass. 

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It’s not a feature film about Ayrton Senna, but it will do. Ron Howard has been slowly putting the pieces of his true-life Formula 1 film Rush together, with scarce word about casting beyond the principal roles of Niki Lauda and James Hunt, but with the film recently starting production, that’s changing quickly. Olivia Wilde is reportedly joining the film, and she may not be alone, as Howard is apparently hoping to add Russell Crowe in a somewhat amusing and pretty spot-on role. Wilde’s role is a plum one – she’ll play 1970s supermodel Suzy Miller, who Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) married in 1974. Though the two were in love, Hunt was a bit of a womanizer (okay, fine, he reportedly slept with thirty-three British Airways flight attendants during a two-week period alone). Needless to say, Hunt and Miller’s marriage was short-lived, and not just because of Hunt’s catting around, but because Miller subsequently fell in love with Richard Burton (the role that Howard would like to see Crowe take on). As if the romantic entanglements of the three didn’t sound complicated enough, Burton was still married to Elizabeth Taylor when he fell in love with Miller in 1975, and the actor was no less than twice the former model’s age. Yet, in a weird twist of fate, Hunt was reportedly already trying to get rid of Miller, so when she fell so quickly in love with Burton, they all agreed to get divorces, and Burton agreed to pay Miller the […]

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Even in normal situations, director Ron Howard is usually one of the busiest working in Hollywood. But with his possible Dark Tower series looming, one that will theoretically span three films and two television series, it’s not likely that he’ll have time to do anything other than Dark Tower related stuff for quite a while. But that project has to go through one more rewrite before the studio signs off on funding it, so there is time for Howard to sneak a movie in before the goliath gets going. More than likely that project is going to be Rush, a film about a formula one racer named Niki Lauda, but now another contender has entered the field for consideration.

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I’ve often heard that the last genre to be invented was the Mockumentary, but recent years may have added an addendum to that with the rise of the Bromance. Fans of the hetero man-love genre will certainly remember Paul Rudd and Jason Segel’s characters Peter and Sydney from the 2009 comedy I Love You Man and their extreme fandom of the band “Rush”. Well, thanks to the rise of high-end video content on the Internet we’re able to relive all of their most repeated catch phrases without having to wait for an actual sequel. In this short the two BFFs share a scene with the guys from “Rush” depicting an awkward back stage interaction at one of their shows. While I was pretty charmed by Neil Peart’s acting, I personally had to hit the “Die” button due to the dearth of original jokes. But for all of those people who like to relive the familiar and flock out to the theaters in droves for sequels, this may be a real treat.

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The lives and careers of rocker legends Rush are celebrated in this top-notch documentary, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and heads to theaters June 10.

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