Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rush: Not a Sports Movie

I could be writing about the dysfunction of Washington right now.  I could be writing about the most hated man in Washington.  I could be writing about birther meme posted by a friend. But...

Ron really it's him.
I am not going to do that.  Washington will still be dysfunctional on Tuesday.  The most hated man will still be hated, and birther memes will remain one of the stupidest things you can post.  So, instead I  am going to write about something important.  Something that is worth while.  Something readers tell me they enjoy reading.  I am going to review a movie.  Rush is Ron Howard's most recent venture in directing, and it is a good one.

I approached the movie with a little trepidation.  First I was concerned that it could easily become a "sports" movie about a famous rivalry in racing.  I was also concerned when this  movie advertised itself as "the best movie of Ron Howard's career." Any time you have an advertising campaign resting solely on an A-list director's name, I feel I should worry.  Well, it's not the best film of his career.  I think Apollo 13 is his best work.  It is also heads and shoulders, actually from the knees up,  better than How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The real James Hunt and Niki Lauda
The movie centers on character.  Great characters drive great stories. Rush is more than a story is about Grand Prix Formula 1 racing. It is about the personalities and rivalry of two drivers in 1976.  The real life racers were Niki Lauda, an Austrian driver played by Daniel Brühl who is a Spanish-German actor, and British racer, James Hunt played by Australian actor Thor...I mean Chis Hemsworth.  To say the physical likeness between the actors and the real races  is astonishing is an understatement.  While I don't know what the originals sounded like, the performances were believable and strong.  Oscar strong? No, but they were good and clean performances.

Like many driven athletes (no pun intended) the two men are competitive, high strung and approach life peering though different glasses.  They are also both something of likeable jerks,and both have one other thing in common.  In social graces, they are both inept in different ways.  Hunt (Hemsworth) is a partier and lives life completely in the moment, but he uses and tends to alienate people closest to him.  Lauda (Brühl ) is disciplined, single-minded, and one difficult individual.  He is overly direct and competitive. So what is their common likeness which binds them?  They are both gifted drivers.  While Lauda was the perfect mechanical driver, Hunt was the risk taker on the track.

Lauda was badly burned in an accident when his car mechanically failed.  Hunt's drive to become a Grand Prix champion and with Lunda out of racing for the burns, Hunt, who had a disastrous beginning, was catching up when the accident occurred.  Lunda has always maintained that it was Hunt's wins and driving that forced him back into the Formula 1 despite his injuries.  Once we get the carefully laid out understanding of the sport, we are then engulfed in the story of two enemies who pushed each other to greatness.  We become involved with these two-their lives and their social ineptitude. We want them both to win and both to lose.  The races are exciting.  We come to understand them or at least accept who these men were.

It is a solid, good movie. It is great storytelling and the more I think about the movie the better I like it.  Rush is R rated for brief nudity, strong language and some graphic visual effects.  I don't know that I will buy the DVD simply because it is not one of those movies you would necessarily watch again and again, but it would be well worth the money.  Go see it.