Love the Coopers reminds us that there are few things worse than booze-fuelled family gatherings, but one of them is definitely schmaltzy Hollywood movies about such reunions. Drawing numerous narrative threads towards a climactic yuletide dinner, the film introduces four generations of one family, who must overcome grudges and failings, let slip the odd lingering secret, and possibly realise the true meaning of Christmas.
Ron Howard’s Rush traces the dramatic, real life duel between drivers James Hunt and Nikki Lauda, during the tumultuous 1976 Formula One season. Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is a classic playboy, who with the help of his rich friends, enjoys racing as much for the carnal pleasures it affords him as for the pure thrill of going fast. Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is almost his opposite, a man of precision and technical mastery who approaches every aspect of the sport as a business. Their rivalry is fascinating, shaping and challenging each man as they face the cost, physical and emotional, of uprising their goal of being crowned champion.
Rush effortlessly evokes the 70s in a way few recent films have done. Everything from the look of the cars, to the costumes and the way people carry themselves feels right ( a stark contrast to the cartoonishly overcooked production style of American Hustle). Rush is a thrilling film, with an appeal beyond the cars and sport at it’s heart. Recommended.
It was only while watching this film that I came to the realisation that I had never seen a film directed by Joe Swanberg before now. I was familiar with his work and had seen him act in a number of fellow Mumblecore filmmakers’ works, but this was to be my first encounter with un film de Joe Swanberg. And I really enjoyed it. A lot of that is to do with the great cast, brimming with actors I already enjoy. Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson have an incredibly believable and beautifully realised relationship – friends and colleagues who are clearly attracted to each other, and on many occasions come painfully close to consummating their feelings, were it not for the fact both of them are in a relationship – with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick respectively. While they are also decent people, it is – perhaps unpredictably – those two who get together, which stirs the pot of both relationships, only pushing Wilde and Johnson’s characters closer together.
The tone is light and breezy, the dialogue improvised yet effortless and the setting – within the world of microbrewing – manages to be hip and slightly off-kilter without becoming unrealistically alternative or avant garde just for the sake of it. The film succeeds because it feels real, and you care for these characters because of how effortlessly they are created and how we can so easily project our own lives, situations, desires and problems onto them.
I caught this on a flight and really that’s the perfect place to see this utterly inconsequential yet mildly diverting comedy. Steve Carell is on autopilot most of the time here, while Steve Buscemi’s involvement in a comedy is both baffling and rather unsuccessful. Jim Carrey does far better here than he did in Kick-Ass 2, actually investing his character with some energy and antagonism that yield a few solid laughs. It is Olivia Wilde, however, who comes out of this film best, given a nothing role as Burt’s assistant, but managing to deliver a believable and wholly identifiable and sympathetic performance from it.