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Non-Review Review: Rush

In many ways, Rush quite resembles the last collaboration between director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan. Both are built around contests between two larger-than-life personalities. One is old-fashioned and conservative, averse to risk and obsessed with victory; the other is young and impetuous, arrogant and self-assured without the experience to back that up. However, while Rush lacks the screen presence of performers Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, it benefits greatly from the fact that it refuses to choose a side.

As much as Frost/Nixon might have offered a slightly more sympathetic-than-usual Nixon, it was clear that the audience was intended to root against the corrupt former president, and champion the ascension of young up-and-comer David Frost. Rush manages a more delicate balance, firmly refusing to favour one protagonist over the other. Both the reckless young go-getter and the safety-conscious number-cruncher are portrayed as sympathetic and well-developed characters.

This makes Rush that rarest of sports movies: the one where the audience is rooting for both contenders.

Not quite to Formula...

Not quite to Formula…

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My Top 10 Movies of 2009

We’ve known this was coming for a while. From the moment I ran through the Irish Times’ Top 20 Films of the Decade through to my own Top 50 Films of the Decade (why stop at 20?) and even on my Top 10 TV Shows of the Decade. It seems only fair and natural to offer a top ten countdown of my favourite movies from the past twelve months. I make no apologies for how populist or anti-populist the list may seem, and I hope that it doesn’t offend anyone – I’m just a nerd on the interweb afterall. If you think I missed something, or overpraised something, just let me know in the comments below. Cheers. Now enjoy.

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My Top 50 Movies of the Decade…

Alright here it is, my top fifty films of the decade. I’ve decided to stop complaining about Donal Clarke’s list in the Irish Times and just let rip myself. There’s more than a few crazy choices down there, but – after a week in the works – I’m happy with it. I doubt that a lot of other people will be.

Like the Oscars, but... you know, better...

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Looking Back at This Year’s Best Picture Race

I’ve finally gotten to see all the five Best Picture nominees for the 81st Academy Awards. I’m honestly disappointed it took me so long, but that’s what happens when a flood of prestige movies hit the cinemas over three weeks in January and the Academy doesn’t even pick the good ones. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the contenders, in retrospect. The previous year’s awards featured a fantastic line-up – Juno, No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood – that hit just about every demographic and represented the awards at their best. This year, we got a closed shop.

The statuettes are actually quite creepy when you get to looking at them...

The statuettes are actually quite creepy when you get to looking at them...

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The Love of Richard Nixon…

I’m not American, but I feel a strange fascination with Richard Milhouse Nixon. He’s a figure of almost Shakespearean complexity, driven to phenomenal heights and fantastic accomplishments, but never able to do enough to placate the insecurity gnawing at him. I had the pleasure of reading Conrad Black’s rather even-handed summary of his life and career last summer, and he seems as much a mystery as ever. The recent news item about another of his paranoid ramblings has grabbed media attention, but I’m amazed that there doesn’t seem to be much debate over the true impact of Nixon’s Presidency beyond the obvious shadow cast by Watergate. What is the American fascination with painting Nixon as a villain or a fiend? Why can he not embody something just a tad more complex?

Richard Nixon unsuccessfully attempts to distract from the Watergate scandal by declaring "It's behind you!" during a Press Conference...

Richard Nixon unsuccessfully attempts to distract from the Watergate scandal by declaring "It's behind you!" during a Press Conference...

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Non-Review Review: Frost/Nixon

When I saw Frost/Nixon in the cinema, I came out thinking it was the second best film of last year. How does my opinion hold up?

For a guy who isn't a crook, he sure has his "caught in the act" pose well-rehearsed

For a guy who isn't a crook, he sure has his "caught in the act" pose well-rehearsed

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Who Am I to Argue with History?

What do Hollywood film makers owe to history? I’ve had this question on my mind because I’ve been seeing quite a few historical films lately – The Reader, Chaplin, and Frost/Nixon will hopefully be arriving in my mailbox today – and I just wondered how faithful it was reasonable to expect a Hollywood film to be to real life events.

Contrary to popular belief, the missing 18 minutes from the Watergate tapes do not feature Richard Nixon practicing jazz hands...

Contrary to popular belief, the missing 18 minutes from the Watergate tapes do not feature Richard Nixon practicing jazz hands...

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