Sunday, 20 October 2013

RUSH to judgement on modern Formula One Racing

RUSH, which needs to be seen on a big screen, is Star Wars where all previous car racing movies were Logan's Run, and is the best sports movie of any kind since Clint Eastwood's Invictus. That admission about racing movies is actually a big one for me as I've defending Tony Scott's Days of Thunder ("better than Top Gun") as a fun movie years, to varying degrees of ridicule!

Like Pacific Rim I mention Star Wars again, this time not because of reaction from kids in the cinema  audience but for the action sequences. The breathtaking racing action really is a quantum leap over previous attempts at the same. I wonder if the hyper fast cutting and internal combustion porn is influenced by the hyper-real montages of Top Gear?  Rush also includes more honest  petrol head detail than I've heard even in recent F1 coverage. The only real minus to this movie is the title, which is as forgettable as it is generic - I'd hate to think this movie is ever confused with Driven or Rush or Rush.

For the visuals I guess we have to thank again that Oscar winning Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantel (Slumdog Millionaire, Festen .... Dredd). This time with Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Damned United) supplying the words.

Ron Howard brings his Apollo 13 form as director, telling a compelling true story largely based on fact with no villains, in which virtually every character comes out well. A wild soundtrack and believable period soundtrack includes Slade, Thin Lizzy, Mud and Bowie.

Familiar faces from now portray familiar faces from then. Stephen Mangan and Julian Rhind-Tutt pop up briefly and for a while it looks like there might be a Green Wing reunion  (it would be nice to see Hunt handle the females from Green Wing and Smack The Pony but this never happens sadly). An almost unrecognisable Olivia Wilde ('13' from House) appears as Suzy Miller, an eternally optimistic 1970s super model who somehow escapes James Hunt to go to Richard Burton. Apparently Director Ron Howard originally intended for Russell Crowe to make a cameo appearance as Richard Burton for a brief scene where he confronts James Hunt.

The principal actors make the two prickly characters like able though bending the truth slightly to make them more antagonistic in an otherwise incredible story obviously helps in this regard. Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda are absolutely convincing and the various back scenes stories are almost good enough to make the actual racing an intrusion. The story of Lauda meeting his wife on the way out of a party in Italy (played by Alexandra Maria Lara) is worth the price of admission alone.

You have to look twice to notice this is not Hemsworth and Bruhl
Nice to see Murray Walker in pic at the end, he was the only glaring omission and a reminder of how much we miss a sports commentary team that was under-appreciated at the time. (Next blog post will have a Murray Walker story)

Anyone tired of seeing dusty tired props in period movies will adore the old F1 hardware, taken from museums and private collections and raced to the limit. It looks absolutely sensational and the recreations of old circuits and stories look suitably mythic. There are almost as many shots of the six wheeled Tyrell as there are of Hunt boozing, and even Mario Andretti's beautiful black and gold Lotus gets some attention at the end.

It really makes F1 today look like the identitikit non spectacle it really is. I have no problem with modern F1 drivers who look like personalities to me and I'm sure would get up to the same hi-jinks as their predecessors if allowed. I've definitely no problem with F1 safety, I remember we were quite glad not to see some of the F1 races live at the time because of the constant expectation of death.

Main problem I have with modern F1 is with the cars. F1 is the interface of science engineering nerd enthusiasm and sport - and the yet the modern hardware spec makes the cars virtually identical apart from a paint job.
"Oh! The Renault V8.. Has a deeper degree of V than all the others!"

Really? That's a bit lame compared to Brabham Fan Car and the  the six wheeled Tyrell isn't it?

Request for Peter Morgan and Anthony Dod Mantel - any chance of Barry Sheene vs Kenny Roberts next? Hell why doesn't someone remake this ?

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