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Hammerle on ... 'Rush,' 'The Counselor'

Robert Hammerle
November 6, 2013
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bob hammerle movie reviewsRush

Director Ron Howard has brought us a wildly engaging film centering on two characters largely lost to sports history. Focusing on the intense battle between Englishman James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda for the Formula One Championship in 1976, Mr. Howard has recreated one of the great spirited duels that has taken place in any sport.

On top of that, we are graced by superlative performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, who play Hunt and Lauda, respectively. Dying some years later at the age of 46, Hemsworth’s Hunt wants to be a champion both on the track and in bed. Having literally no fear of death on the racetrack, he lived a private life filled with drugs, booze and beautiful women.

Lauda was the direct opposite, which fueled their personal rivalry. He was a dedicated driver from Central Europe who could have cared less about popularity. Lacking any of the dashing charm or charisma of Hunt, he lived and breathed racing on and off the track.

Competitors at the top of their game, these two individuals profoundly disliked each other. Hemsworth’s Hunt was an earthly version of his role as Thor in various films, here substituting a McLaren for Thor’s mighty hammer. He constantly taunted Lauda, relishing his pretty boy image.

Hammerle_Rush.jpgBut Hunt’s weakness was his lack of discipline off the racetrack, something that further separated the two men. His quick marriage to the beautiful model Suzy Miller, played with an edgy sparkle by Olivia Wilde, disintegrated given his infidelities.

On the other hand, Lauda was dedicated to his wife Marlene, played by the elegant Alexandra Maria Lara. He feared death on the track only as it related to her agony, and he became far more admirable in the process than Hunt.

What lies at the center of this compelling film was the tragic accident suffered by Lauda in a rain soaked race in Germany. Sitting in his wrecked vehicle for over 60 seconds while everything was consumed in flame, he was hospitalized in intensive care for 30 days. Fighting back from near death, Lauda suffered incredible facial burns and the loss of his right ear.

Incredibly, given the fact that Hunt was closing in on the championship, he came back to racing 45 days after the accident, suffering partial vision problems that added to his scars. The championship came down to the last race of the year, one that was also engulfed by a massive storm. Though history long ago vividly explained what happened, you get caught up in the intrigue as Lauda had to decide whether to seek the championship and in the process risk saying goodbye to his wife.

Simply stated, you could have absolutely no interest in Formula One racing and still love this film. Hunt and Lauda inspired each other, and you are likely to catch some of that feeling. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this good about a Ron Howard film. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure.

The Counselor

There is something so fundamentally hideous about the Mexican drug cartel that paralyzes any attempt to bring it to the big screen. Director Oliver Stone stumbled throughout in last year’s “Savages,” and the great Ridley Scott follows in his footsteps with “The Counselor.”

Quite frankly, its only strength comes from the screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, awash in developments that leaves you asking more than once, “What in the hell is going on?” Most viewers will soon realize that you are on a roller coaster ride into the depths of human depravity.

The plot focuses on a drug deal that goes bad in every possible way. Violence descends on everyone in a fashion seldom seen on the screen, and no one dies an easy death. It’s like swimming in a sea of sharks, knowing that one will eventually eat you.

The allure of the film comes from its talented cast, led by Michael Fassbender. Playing an attorney known only as the counselor, he succumbs to greed and gets involved in financing a load of cocaine coming in from Mexico. Engaged to the beautiful Penelope Cruz, their relationship is seen as based solely on sex with no holds barred and no part of the body going untouched.

Hammerle_Counselor.jpgMr. Fassbender’s counselor arranges his drug deal through Javier Bardem’s Reiner, a master crook with great hair. Like everyone else in the film, Reiner loves to drink, and seldom wastes the opportunity. It is clear that he is fully aware that his luck will eventually run out, a feeling accentuated by a delirious performance from Cameron Diaz as his girlfriend.

Ironically, Ms. Diaz is the center of the entire film, playing a wildly tattooed Barbados escapee with bright silver fingernails. She is as conniving as she is nasty, and the scene where she actually proceeds to make love to the windshield of Reiner’s car will not be soon forgotten. Reiner stared in shock from behind the steering wheel, and you’ll feel like you are peeking from the back seat.

Finally, Brad Pitt appears as a confidante of the counselor, a man who knows when it is time to cut and run. Without giving it away, he meets a fate while fleeing to London that is nearly as visually shocking as anything you will see in a modern film.

Director Ridley Scott has given us some extraordinary films over the years, and it is always worth remembering “Blade Runner” (1982); “Thelma & Louise” (1991); “Gladiator” (2000) and the underrated “Prometheus” (2012). Here, however, his artistic reach exceeds his grasp, and you are left with a film that glories in the demise of its characters.

While I won’t tell you the one person who lives at the end, it is fair to say that he escapes death because his protagonists simply want him to live with the crushing memory of the drastic consequences brought to those he loves. This film is the devil in human form, so you are warned.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

  2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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