Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

Naughty & ‘Nice’

Crowe and Gosling mix action and laughs in ‘The Nice Guys’

Ryan Gosling, Maddie Compton, Angourie Rice and Russell Crowe in 'The Nice Guys'

Ryan Gosling, Maddie Compton, Angourie Rice and Russell Crowe in ‘The Nice Guys’

The Nice Guys

Starring Russell Crowe & Ryan Gosling

Directed by Shane Black

R

The opening shot of The Nice Guys pans across the back of the iconic Hollywood sign, grimy and tagged with graffiti, as the lights of the city below glitter in the night like a gigantic box of jewels.

After the Temptations set a ’70s groove to “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” we’re off and rolling ourselves on a raucous, retro-rollicking comedy-adventure romp as a pair of mismatched investigators-for-hire (Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling) team up to look for a missing girl (Margaret Qualley of TV’s The Leftovers). But soon they find themselves in a much deeper drama involving porn stars, pinkie promises, menacing thugs, Kim Basinger in full L.A. Confidential mode, and a shocking conspiracy of catalytic converters and high-ranking collusion.

Writer-director Shane Black made his mark back in the late 1980s with the screenplay for Lethal Weapon, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. He went on to refine his format—a high-octane mix of cheeky quips and pulpy, explosive action—behind the camera with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and Iron Man 3 (2013).

TNG_Day#48_02022015-325.dngThe movie takes place in 1977, and it revels in the details of its smoggy, sometimes smutty setting. The background hums with tunes from Kiss, America, Rupert Holmes, the Band, Herb Alpert and Earth, Wind and Fire. Chevy Camaros, Caprice Classics and Dodge Coronets line up for 69-cent-a-gallon gas. Billboards trumpet the hottest movies: Jaws 2, Airport 77. Newspaper headlines spread the dread about killer bees from Brazil.

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Matt Bomer

You’ll recognize versatile character actor Keith David as a villain. Matt Bomer from TV’s American Horror Story plays John Boy, an assassin sharing a certain facial feature with the Waltons TV character of the same name. And young Angourie Rice, 14 at the time of filming, almost steals the show as Holly, the daughter of Gosling’s character. She’s the soft heart of this rough-and-tumble story, the tender conscience in the midst of its outbursts of casual violence.

But the real treat throughout is the pair-up of two actors not known for baring their funny bones. Crowe’s Jackson Healey is a rumpled, jaded tough guy who leads with his fists—often sporting brass knuckles. Gosling plays Holland March as a mopey, bottom-feeding P.I. with a drinking problem and a tattoo that reminds him, “You will never be happy.” Their oil-and-water styles initially clash, of course, but eventually smooth into some major movie mojo. (Pay attention and you’ll even catch their nod to classic Abbott and Costello.)

It all builds into a spectacular shoot-out showdown at a gleaming auto expo, where everyone is scrambling to get their hands on a canister containing a reel of film as it rolls, bounces and spins across the floor, out a window, down a street and into the flames of a burning car. That’s one hot movie, as it turns out, in more ways than one.

And so is The Nice Guys, a juicy, slam-bang action-comedy cocktail punched up, pimped out and powered down with rowdy, new-fangled film-noir fun. Hot stuff—catch it.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Let It Rain

New take on Old Testament tale isn’t your familiar Sunday School fare

NOAH

 

Noah

Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson & Anthony Hopkins

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

PG-13, 138 min.

Is director Darren Aronofsky’s sprawling saga of Noah and the Great Flood a profane violation of a sacred story? Or is it a mind-blowing cinematic exploration of a character wrestling with faith, doubt, dreams, guilt, miracles and the fate of mankind itself, set in one of the most epic tales of all time?

You’ll have to see it to decide for yourself, but there’s ammunition for both camps.

Russell Crowe plays Noah as the last good man—literally—in a bleak, barren world that’s gone downhill after the good ol’ Adam & Eve days of yore in the Garden of Eden. He gets a message from “the creator” that mankind isn’t worth keeping around, and it’s time to wipe—or wash—the slate clean and start over. (“God” isn’t mentioned by name, which has apparently rankled some by-the-Book viewers.)

NOAHSo Noah builds a big boat, with a plan to take along only his wife (Jennifer Connelly), their three hunky sons, an orphaned girl who’ll grow up to become his daughter-in-law (Emma Watson)—and the only creatures on the planet that haven’t defiled and depleted it, the animals.

“Men are going to be punished for what they’ve done to this world,” Noah says. “The creator has chosen us to save the innocent.”

You probably know the rest of the story. But you probably don’t know the parts about Noah and his lineage being plant-loving, peaceful vegetarians, while the rest of mankind are bloodthirsty, meat-craving barbarians. (Take that, Earth-killing carnivores.) Or that Noah was pretty handy snapping necks or dispatching his enemies with an axe, or a knife, or whatever weapon was handy. Or that he had a pretty sizeable assist in putting the ark together by a group of stone giants, one of them voiced by Nick Nolte.

NOAH

Emma Watson

There are also subplots about teenage rebellion and young love—this is a big-budget, big-studio movie, after all—and a cool, artsy film-within-the-film when Noah explains the seven days of creation. (Cue even more controversy.) The flood itself is something awesome—and awful—to behold. And there are explosions.

Anthony Hopkins plays Noah’s father, Methuselah, and Ray Winstone is Tubal-Cain, a minor character barely noted in the Old Testament who gets elevated to his own subplot as a conniving thug of a king who threatens to derail Noah’s entire mission.

The sets—especially the locations filmed in Iceland—look spectacular. Some of the special effects have an over-the-top, sci-fi, Lord of the Rings feel that may be a bit jarring to some viewers, but hey, consider the magnitude of what the story is about, after all—a cataclysmic mega-event bigger than anything hobbit Bilbo Baggins ever faced in Middle Earth.

NOAH

It’s long, a lot to digest, and it certainly deviates from what you might have covered in Sunday School. But boy, is it ever interesting—and well worth seeing, especially if you’re open to a bold, trippy new interpretation of an old, old story, about miracles of varying size and shape, in which you still today might find some new inspiration.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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