Rush

Ron Howard directs a classy, engrossing biographical action film which tells the true story of the infamous rivalry between F1 stars James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) in the 1976 German Grand Prix.

There are some confident performances from the two leading men, Chris Hemsworth portrays a ‘live for the moment’ James Hunt, who parties off the track and who uses his gut instinct on the track.

Contrasting this, is Daneil Bruhl, who plays Niki Lauda, an F1 driver who worked hard to get to where he was, serious, determined and who’s crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring could have killed him. His fight for survival and recovery is excellently portrayed, it’s his steely determination which enables him to fight for the F1 title after his accident.

The supporting cast do their part, but it is Ron Howard who brings to life the rivalry between Hunt and Lauda, with brilliantly choreographed driving sequences and nuanced scenes off the track. Howard brings these legends to life.

A must see.

Naomi Jeffreys

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The Iceman

*

Michael Shannon and Winona Ryder star in the true story of hitman Richard Kuklinski’s life.

The film is problematic from the off, in the first scene we see ‘The Iceman’ woo his girl Deborah (Ryder) and, in the same breathe, kill his first victim, mercilessly and quickly in a dark and dingey back alley.

Character stories are difficult to pitch, particularly a true story. Too much emphasis is put on the time, the year, how the character has physically changed, and not enough emphasis is put on the character itself.

Shannon’s portrayal of Kuklinksi is either an ice cold killer or a fiercely loving family man. There is no in between. He is all clenched jaws and sudden explosive rages. It is because of these reasons, that the film proves problematic. Director Ariel Vromen seems to intent to introduce audiences to the ’60s and ’70s changing fashion and has unfortunately lost his Iceman along the way.

Winona Ryder is back, all jewels and long flowing dresses, a bit of a nothing character, who, unfortunately, due to the poor script, we are unable to get any insight in to over the long period which this film spans.

David Schwimmer, James Franco and Chris Evans all make brief appearances, Schwimmer sports a charming mustache, and a number of fetching tracksuits.

All in all a disappointing film, with a script which doesn’t allow the audience any time to understand Kuklinski, or his reasons for doing what he does. It all felt a little lost on me in the end.

Naomi Jeffreys, Film Editor

 

 

The Best Films of 2012 – Part Two

5. ‘Argo’

argoWords by Yazen Al Samen

In ‘Argo’, Ben Affleck breaks into the Hollywood elite, by embracing what made Hollywood great. The true story of 6 escaped American hostages in Iran in 1980 and the plan to rescue them is too crazy to be true, and Ben Affleck’s movie takes this story and turns it into one hell of a thrill ride.

But the film goes to show the effect the media and the cinema has on the mind of the people, wherever they come from, and how they can influence politics. Affleck also embraces Hollywood “escapism”, by making a movie so fine tuned that even when you think it’s cheesy and predictable it enthralls and captures you. “Argo” is for the ages, and one of the leading contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars.

4. ‘Skyfall’

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Here is Bond for the 21st century. The 23rd installment into the Bond franchise is one of the best, probably the best. It is also quite a bold film, with the question in the center of it “Is Bond needed in today’s world?” This film takes Bond from Cold War antiquity and into 21st century technology, it is a film of a confused Bond, of a confused MI6, facing a whole new terror what they were used to, a more personal terror.

It is also a very self aware film, and with that it tests us the audience with relics of the past from Bond himself or his gadgets. It culminates into a movie about moving on, letting go, and effect of time itself on the human soul and the objects around it. Sam Mendes’ movie is quite a rare thing, a downright philosophical, entertaining, personal, blockbuster.

3. ‘Amour’ 

amour

Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ (‘Love’) probably has the most fitting title of any of this year’s films. It stars of cinema’s most memorable actors, Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, as Georges and Anne, an 80-something couple living a quiet life in the twilight of their lives. Soon, Anne has a stroke and starts descending into paralysis, leaving Georges to care for her.

The film goes into Georges’ struggle to care for Ann, and provides a test for his love and their enduring marriage. “Amour” ends up presenting quite a strong and powerful exploration of what love is, and where it comes from, and how it transforms along the ages. It is one of the most heartfelt and hard hitting films of recent years, and one of Haneke’s best films.

2. ‘Life of Pi’

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‘Life of Pi’ is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen. It has outright the best use of 3D in movies, and surely some of the best special effects set pieces. It is quite an experience. Adapted from Yann Martel’s novel, it is about a young Indian boy who is left in the middle of the sea after a shipwreck, on a lifeboat, alone with a Bengal tiger. Very few modern films are this un-cynical of their mention of God, and the film’s hero starts off by saying that “this story will make you believe in God”.

But this is not the direction the movie is interested in. It is more about the nature of religion, the nature of belief and faith, and how the human mind works to give meaning and acquire comfort and relief, and how experiences shape our lives, in ways we may not know, and it touches on how “God” and nature work, and where we, and animals, stand in the world. Ang Lee’s film is of the most joyously uplifting spiritual experiences you can have at the movies. ‘Life Of Pi’ is tied in my eyes for the year’s best film, but my number 1 pick left me in more shock and awe, simply…

1. ‘The Master’

themaster1

This film has divided people. It is one of the most baffling of films. Yet it remains there, imprinted in our minds. An out of the body experience. No film has taken so much effort and detail in bringing onto the screen a relationship between two people.

Joaquin Phoenix’s alcoholic WWII vet is drifting in Fifties America, when he meets a cult leader, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who takes him under his wing. The two men bounce off each to other, two men of different styles, behaviors and mindsets. The movie leaves them there, as we see them in 70mm, and we stay mesmerized by how human interactions work, and how conversations, demeanors and charisma influence the mind and the body.

The film is a heightened experience, and its highly human and psychological content is well concealed within 50s American society, yet the film first and foremost is an experience, that works on the mind and the senses, and amazes you as it baffles you. No other film has been made like this.