Tag Archive: russell crowe


Ask the general public who they think the best actor in the world is and you will probably be met with replies varying from Bradley Cooper to Ryan Gosling and, with the release of Man of Steel, you may even hear people citing Henry Cavill as ‘the best actor ever’: the general public are fickle when it comes to actors/actresses and they tend to follow the trends, whoever is ‘hot’ right now will be in the public eye more and the public will be tricked into liking them. I don’t wish to take anything away from the three particular actors I mentioned as I do like all three of them: they all have potential, but are they brilliant actors? I would hesitate to say so just yet.

Now if you’re reading this you probably have an interest in films and will no doubt know who Paul Giamatti is, but as the everyday cinema goer if they like him and the likely response will be “who?”; telling them that he is an Oscar nominated actor will probably not help either. While the likes of Cooper, Gosling and Cavill make headlines and get on the covers of magazines Paul Giamatti goes about his versatile projects with the utmost respect for the people he is working with and for the target audience. Giamatti is an actor that can consistently be relied upon to give great performances and make anything all the more enjoyable for his appearance. The reason why I have decided to write about him now is because of his insistence to ever expand his repertoire and has recently joined the cast of British ITV drama, Downton Abbey.

After slumming it for a few years, Giamatti got his first big break in 1997 when he starred in Private Parts, a role which catapulted him to face after he received a lot of praise for his performance. This led to Giamatti getting more and more supporting roles in big Hollywood films such as The Truman Show and Saving Private Ryan. His rise to fame in Hollywood continued after the turn of the 20th century appearing in Big Momma’s House, Planet of the Apes and Big Fat Liar. Okay, so not all of his films are good, but how often does and actor have a slate with no spills upon it? And anyway, it’s what he did after this that starts to get impressive.

In 2004, Giamatti reminded everybody just how good he is: Sideways. In this independent romantic comedy, Giamatti portrays a depressed writer with a very healthy liking of wine. Now I will admit that when I first watched Sideways I failed to see what the hype was about, nevertheless I recognised that Giamatti was putting in a terrific performance. Alongside Thomas Haden Church (another actor I’ve come to like a lot recently) Giamatti is absolutely wonderful, capturing an incredibly realistic portrayal and offering up moments of drama and comedy in equal share and to equal success. Sideways on the whole became a surprise hit and was nominated for five Oscars which helped the whole cast’s career greatly.

But Giamatti was made to wait for his personal Oscar nomination. That came when Giamatti starred alongside Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, playing Joe Gould, boxing manager and friend to Russell Crowe’s character. Although he lost out at the Oscars to that little known actor George Clooney (Syriana) Giamatti proved once again that he was one of Hollywood’s finest.

Since then, Paul Giamatti has gone on to vary his career as much as possible in terms of the roles he takes. Whether it be in the great action film Shoot ‘Em Up, the animated The Ant Bully, comedy in The Hangover Part II, drama in The Ides of March or even a musical such as Rock of Ages, Giamatti will give it all and continue to dominate films with his performance. I fail to think of a film appearance by Giamatti in which he has ever failed to live up to my high expectations I have of him: he is just ultimately captivating and always exciting to watch on screen.

There are a huge number of projects in the pipeline (not least Turbo and the latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) but arguably most exciting is the fact that he will be appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as villain Rhino. This could possibly be the best bit of superhero movie casting since Robert Downey Jr. completely stole the hearts of the world as Tony Stark. Early set photos (pre-CGI) look exciting and as if this is going to be another memorable performance from Giamatti. With critical acclaim being fired at him from every angle, it is about time he became a staple in the minds of mainstream cinema-goers. Here’s hoping…

In my opinion, Paul Giamatti is one of the greatest character actors of all time, allowing himself to completely indulge himself in every aspect of his role and this comes across perfectly on screen. Certainly someone to watch in everything he does.

Man of Steel Review

In 2006, Warner Bros. and DC decided to reboot Superman (at the same time as tying it in to the original films) with the help of Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh. Despite doing well both critically and commercially (the ninth highest grossing film of that year worldwide) any plans of a sequel were put to rest as the studios bowed down to fans’ criticism of the film. The studios have thrown caution to the wind this time with a sequel already reportedly being worked on and Man of Steel setting the groundwork for Justice League.

“Where do I come from?”

Henry Cavill is Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman, sent to Earth during the destruction of his home planet of Krypton and raised on Earth by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane). When what is left of the alien race return to Earth to find Clark and rebuild their own species from scratch, he is forced to choose between his heritage and his new home.

In something that has been given relatively little thought or sight on screen in recent years, Zack Snyder (the director being entrusted with the hopes and dreams of Justice League on his shoulders) plunges the audience right into Krypton’s destruction. The movie opens with some incredible special effects and a great sense of action as Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) come to blows over the future of their planet. Man of Steel sets the bar high for its action sequences with Jor-El and Zod engaging in the first real teaser of the super powered fights that we are anticipating seeing the red and blue of Superman engage in.

“What if a child aspired to something greater?”

On Earth the excitement continues to grow as we follow Clark around in a number of jobs, from fisherman to barman, in which we learn more about the character and his selflessness; he quickly races off to save a crew from a burning oil rig. His adult life is interrupted with trips back to his childhood: Clark saving his class from drowning on a school bus, being bullied for being different, coming to terms with his abilities. You get the impression that you might actually care about this alien. Then Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is introduced and all the groundwork laid so far beings to unravel.

Unfortunately, you can’t really have a Superman movie without featuring Lois Lane in some capacity. And while she may have served a purpose previously as bringing out another human layer to Clark’s character, in Man of Steel she is little more than an annoyance and one of the most pointless characters ever. There was no need for her to be taken aboard the Krypton spaceship, it didn’t seem like Zod had any needs for her to be on board other than so she could learn how to stop them from destroying Clark and Earth.

“Welcome to the Planet”

The character development that started so promisingly disappears when Clark meets Lois. Just two or three meetings later and Lois now knows everything about Clark and the two of them have decided that they are in love. It just feels so underwhelming and undeveloped that you being to question whether some scenes have been cut from the final edit. It’s as if Snyder and David S. Goyer (screenwriter) have decided that because everyone knows Lois and Clark are meant to be together, that’s a good enough reason in itself for it to happen without any seeds being set for a relationship. And the kiss at the end? Cliche and forced. The relationship could have been allowed time to grow and be explored if pointless scenes asking us to care about 2-bit characters who have had 5 minute screen time weren’t shoe horned in.

Despite all this, Man of Steel does offer some moments of relief. The fight scenes are incredible; one on one fights scaling over miles of ground. The enormous difference between humans and Kryptons is there for all to see. Superman’s flight, his heat vision, x-ray vision (underused) and heightened senses are all portrayed wonderfully and the special effects live up to the films early promise.

“I will find him!”

There are good performances all round, Kevin Costner makes a true return to form, providing a really great performance with limited screen time. Cavill, Crowe and Shannon all perform as well as the script allows as well. One of the main criticisms levelled at Man of Steel is the inevitable loss of human life that seems to not affect Superman and this cannot be ignored.

We’re supposed to believe that Superman, of all superheroes, this moral beacon of justice and hope, is okay with charging through petrol stations, diving through skyscrapers and pummeling his way around a small town is doing this and giving no thought to the innocent people inside all these buildings that are going to die because of his actions? I don’t buy that. And when SPOILER Superman does kill someone, he has a few seconds to regret it before being rushed off screen so the end credits can take his place.

“What do you think?”

Overall, Man of Steel does provide entertainment, that much is certain. The special effects and big budget moments are really worth seeing. But it adds nothing new to Superman that hasn’t been seen before, leaving the unanswerable question: what was the point? Cavill has the potential to be the best Superman ever, but he needs a good script and brilliant story in the sequel to attain this.

My Rating: 6/10.

The story of Les Misérables, originally written as a novel by Victor Hugo, is 150 years old. The first adaptation of Les Misérables as a musical came in 1980 and it has gone on to become one of the biggest and one of the best musicals on stage in the world. So how do you adapt the musical to film while keeping the operatic feel? How do you make a 150 year old story seem relevant to the 21st century audience? These are the questions that faced director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) when creating this giant production.

Les Misérables primary focus is Jean Valjean, a prisoner released on parole after spendingnineteen years in jail. Upon his release and his attempt to become a better man and live a better life he breaks his parole and ruthless policeman Javert dedicates his life to returning Valjean to prison. Along the way Valjean takes in the child of a dying prostitute. The plot spans seventeen years and is set against the backdrop of political turmoil and rebellion in France, culminating in the June Rebellion of France.

One of the key features of Les Misérables was the fact that the actors did not lip sync; their vocals were actually recorded while they sang on set, which is a very unique way of doing things when making a musical film. This means that the actors are forced to act, sing, move and sometimes fight all at the same time. It is a testament to how talented the whole case is that this never gets in the way of their vocals: this also helps to really keep a theatrical feel about the performance.

Hugh Jackman is Oscar nominated for his performance as prison Jean Valjean and his background in theatre clearly helped his performance in Les Misérables. Jackman’s transformation on screen as his character rises and falls in stature is fantastic and, with his performance, he brings so much emotion to the role it is hard not to feel for him. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Valjean is probably one of my favourite individual performances I have ever seen. This is also true of Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of prostitute Fantine, although for very different reasons. Fantine is forced to desperate measures in order to raise money to look after her child and the sequence which portrays this (accompanied with the song ‘Lovely Ladies‘) is so harrowing and you can really feel the despair and desperation of the character. I am slightly disappointed that Russell Crowe wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for his performance: even though he plays the villain I thought Crowe made Javert reluctantly likeable and I was really impressed by his singing too.

The songs and the music are the centre piece of Les Misérables and, as you would expect being as though it is a musical, the songs are wonderful. With such beautiful music and compelling lyrics the choice of songs (and addition of new song ‘Suddenly‘) really help to create a wonderful narrative which is vital here as there are very few spoken lines within the two and a half hour running time. Hathaway singing ‘I Dreamed a Dream‘ was a real highlight of the film, ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?‘ was a wonderful team production, ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables‘ was another personal highlight along with my favourite song of them all ‘Stars‘.

At the beginning of this review I called the making of Les Misérables a giant production and the huge scale on which this film is made is evident from the very first shot. Right from the get go it is a real team effort and everybody pulls their weight equally. The sets are incredible, the set pieces are fantastic, character development is wonderful. Lots of characters are introduced at different times throughout the film but they never clog up the storyline.

Les Misérables is a terrific story on so many levels and, even at two and a half hours long, I could have happily sat through it again as soon as it finished!

My Rating: 10/10.

UK Release Date: 25th January 2013.

Stars: Allen Hughes (director), Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Plot: An ex-cop trailing the wife of New York City’s mayor finds himself immersed in a larger scandal.

Here is Russell Crowe taking on a very different look and perhaps overdoing the tan to play his character in Broken City whilst Mark Wahlberg just looks the same as he always does. I think these two actors have something in common with one another: they have both made some fantastic movies (The Departed, Gladiator) but both have also made movies that tread the line between bad and mediocre (Contraband, Robin Hood).

It feels like with the Broken City trailer we are being told lots of things but we are actually being told very little. The conspiracy or the ‘larger scandal’ are kept secret which is obviously a good marketing ploy to attract viewers but is the very boring story of ‘find out who my wife is sleeping with then i’ll kill her’ really an interesting in? I don’t think so.

I’m a fan of Russell Crowe and I do really like Mark Wahlberg (the same can’t be said for my feelings on the incredibly annoying Catherine Zeta-Jones and when she finally gets out of movies I will be very happy) so I hope that Broken City is a good film, but I can’t see it escaping the pool of mediocre films and it will surely slip into obscurity.

Obviously the big news of the week is the tragic death of film director Tony Scott who directed such hits as Top Gun, Man on Fire and The Taking of Pelham 123. I wrote about this the other day and said what a loss I thought he was to the world of cinema and in particular action films. There have been conflicting reports about the health of Scott since his death but all we know for certain is that it is a very sad time for his friends and family and wish them all the best.

Last week I wrote how Donald Faison was approached for a part in Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall as Dr. Gravity and now it seems as though the sequel to 2010’s hit film is moving on full steam ahead with their casting as there have been two very prominent rumours this week. Lindy Booth (Dawn of the Dead, Cry Wolf) is in talks to play another member of Kick-Ass’ superhero team Justice Forever – Night Bitch. The biggest rumour though is who is line to play The Colonel (or Colonel Stars in the comic book) and that is Jim Carrey! Carrey may seem like too much of a big name for a supporting role next to Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz but in recent years Carrey’s career has been stalling and faltering all over the place and this could be the big reboot that his career needs.

The Dark Tower is a series of books written by the world’s most famous author Stephen King. For a while now Ron Howard has been trying to push through a very ambitious and epic television and film collaboration to produce the books. This would mean that in between the films being released there would be a television series to sort of bridge the gap and provide fans with more of a knowledge of the story so you can see the difficulty of getting this done. And it seems as though big studios are shying away from pushing the project through. Universal Pictures has already turned it down and now so have Warner Bros. who were seen as the best studio to do this. With Russell Crowe attached to star it should have studios begging to produce it but the risk seems to outweigh the ambition at the minute. Media Rights Captial (who produced Ted) are now in serious discussions to produce The Dark Tower so maybe it could finally get to the big screen one day. I have only read the first book, The Gunslinger, but I did find it very very interesting and very different. I would love to see this project being greenlit and moving forward.

DreamWorks animation’s contract with Paramount is coming to an end at the turn of the year and is not being renewed. This would mean that DreamWorks have nobody to distribute their films, however they have now agreed a five year run with 20th Century Fox which will see them through until the end of 2017. The reason behind the contract at Paramount not being renewed is thus: Paramount are putting some serious effort into building up their own studio, possibly to rival that of DreamWorks (I imagine it will still be some way behind Pixar). You can see why Paramount would do this, last year they won the Best Animated Film Oscar for their Rango and that clearly has sparked an idea within Paramount to produce more animated features. As owners of Nickelodeon they already have plenty of animated characters to work with. I see the animation scope of films largely dominated by Pixar and DreamWorks (even though other studios do animated films) and I think Paramount will have a long road ahead of them to catch up with those two.

UK Release Date: 14th June 2013.

Stars: Zack Snyder (director), Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane.

Plot: A child sent to Earth from a dying planet is adopted by a couple in rural Kansas. Posing as a journalist, he uses his extraordinary powers to protect his new home from an insidious evil.

With The Dark Knight Rises now out in cinemas and Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight trilogy coming to a close, Warner Bros. are keen to promote their newest superhero project, Man of Steel. This will be a reboot of the Superman story with another Brit, Henry Cavill, in the lead role of one of arguably the most iconic, yet most boring, superhero of them all, however, with Christopher Nolan in place as co-writer and producer, the signs should be good for Superman.

The teaser is pretty boring to be honest and compared to reports of what the comic con trailer consisted of, this one sounds a lot worse. Here we just get lots of miserable shots of an adult Clark Kent trying to find himself on a road, or on a fishing boat, or at the docks, and these shots are intersected with shots of a child wearing a cape who we presume to be a young Clark Kent. The final shot we get is a full costumed Superman flying through the sky, but this shot is a bit distant and really does nothing to peak interest in the character.

The comic con trailer included shots of Russell Crowe in costume, of Krypton, of Superman in handcuffs with the police and scenes all over the city of Superman or Clark Kent fighting people or saving people. No doubt as the release date draws nearer, especially next year, the general public will get to see this too. Until then, we’re stuck with this boring 90 second effort.

Stars: RZA (director), Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Jamie Chung, Cung Le, Byron Mann.

Plot: In feudal China, a blacksmith who makes weapons for a small village is put in the position where he must defend himself and his fellow villagers.

The Man With The Iron Fists is the directorial debut from Grammy award winning Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA, co-written by him and Eli Roth, produced, in part, by Quentin Tarantino. The trailer doesn’t really give much away but it looks as though it has enough to entertain fans of Tarantino’s style of directing and it reminds me strongly of Tarantino’s Kill Bill; Lucy Liu features in both and the style of Kill Bill was reminiscent of Asian martial arts films I think.

As we don’t get much plot from the trailer it is difficult to tell who will be the main characters of the story but with Russell Crowe signing on you would expect him to play a rather key part. Although the film is in the English language and is from the United States it clearly wants to try and capture the essence of the Asian martial arts films which always feature fantastic fight scenes and stunts which are always incredible to see and the trailer shows that there is a lot of potential for that style here.

The films original cut was over four hours long and there were talks of splitting The Man With the Iron Fists into two film however it was eventually cut down to just an hour and a half. And though I think the trailer looks exciting this news makes me wonder just how good the film will really be; sure if they cut down from four hours to ninety minutes then what is left should be the very best but if they were able to just discard two and a half hours of the film will what’s left just be average too?

No release date has been stated yet for release.

3:10 to Yuma (2007) Review.

The western is the original genre of cinema. The first ever narrative film was The Great Train Robbery and was the western which began Hollywood’s long running obsession with cowboys and outlaws. However, with the uprising of science fiction and the superhero genre now becoming the leading money spinners in cinema modern westerns don’t usually do that well in the mainstream. 3:10 to Yuma, released in 2007, managed to make a small profit but didn’t pull up many trees, yet I think that this is a fantastic film that proves the western can still entertain.

3:10 to Yuma is the story of Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a war veteran who lost his leg and now struggles to keep his family on his ranch through drought and debt problems. When the infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) finally gets captured and needs escorting to the 3:10 train to Yuma prison, Dan volunteers to take him for a price. Along the way Dan wins the respect of his son and finds a mutual respect and reluctant friendship with Ben Wade.

Directed by James Mangold, not a very famous director by any means, 3:10 to Yuma manages to capture the essence of the western very well; the visual direction of the film is very good. When people think of westerns they usually think of gunfight after gunfight but what you have here is a slow paced film but with a story and characters like these there is no danger of it ever becoming boring. Both Christian Bale and Russell Crowe put in fantastic performances and the character of Ben Wade is possibly one of the greatest antagonists I have ever seen; I think that his personality is a great one and rather than just being a badder than bad villain it becomes clear that he actually does have morals and he does have his own rules that he lives by, despite the fact that he runs one of the roughest gangs in the west. The conflict that arises between Evans and Wade is very interesting and watching the respect that these two men have for one another grow throughout their film and they confess secrets to one another is actually quite touching.

The supporting cast of Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk and Gretchen Mol all do a good job with what they are given but Ben Foster who plays Ben Wade’s right hand man Charlie Prince is absolutely fantastic and brings a real sinister side to his character. Rising star Logan Lerman puts in a shift as Evans’ son and fan of Ben Wade and it is clear to see that he has real potential as an actor.

Throughout 3:10 to Yuma there isn’t that much action with the real emphasis based on the interactions between Dan Evans and Ben Wade as I mentioned earlier but when there is action it is very good. There is a scene at the mines where Evans’ group rescue Ben Wade from torture that goes down very well and the final shootout is brilliant. People are dropping like flies during the final gunfight when Evans races to get Wade onto the train and the ending is pretty much as perfect as it could be.

3:10 to Yuma is by no means the best film ever but since the first time I saw the western it has been on my list of favourite films.

My Rating: 8/10.

UK Release Date: 11th January 2013.

Plot: Prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean, is released from prison and breaks parole to create a new life for himself while evading the grip of the persistent Inspector Javert. Set in early 19th-century France, the story reaches resolution against the background of the July Revolution of 1832.

Stars: Tom Hooper (director), Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter… quite a few then.

Les Miserables, affectionately referred to as Les Mis, is one of the all time classic stage productions and musicals. It has been performed for years and won a string of awards in its time in the theatres; it is one of the most well known productions of our time and now comes to the cinema screens of Hollywood. I have seen a stage production of this as well as a school production and the story is great so I anticipate big things from the cast and crew of this film.

This is only a teaser trailer but everything about Les Miserables screams ‘oscar bait’. The timing of its release will not be coincidental by any stretch of the imagination, giving it perfect timing to be considered for awards season. Hooper won last years Oscar for best direction with The King’s Speech and there is no shortage of big hitters among the cast. It has been confirmed by Hooper that all the actors and actresses do their own singing and did it live on set so there is no dubbing over with vocals later on which will make Les Mis all the more authentic.

Musicals conjure up horrible thoughts usually in the mass audience but when done right amazing things can be achieved. The Les Mierables trailer doesn’t give much away in terms of plot but I think the trailer looks really good and gives a great idea of what to expect. I will certainly be very surprised if this movie gets ignored by the Academy Awards.

Thankfully, Les Miserables looks more ‘The Sound of Music‘ rather than ‘High School Musical‘.