So this is what Hollywood is for. It's easy to forget, especially on the heels of a movie summer as disappointing as this last one, that there are certain things that big-studio motion pictures can do very well.
Take Rush, the latest film from director Ron Howard and easily one of his best. This "based on a true story" auto-racing movie does a number of things very well. But just as important to the movie's success are the things it declines to do at all.
Let's begin with the former. Rush depicts the competition between two larger-than-life Formula One stars, British driver James Hunt (played by Aussie Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian driver Niki Lauda (played by German-Spaniard Daniel Bruhl). Though the tale begins in the early 1970s, the bulk of the action takes place in 1976, with the two men locked in a neck-and-neck struggle for the world championship, trading victories at grand prix after grand prix: Brazil, South Africa, Spain, Monaco, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany... This was a period in Formula One when losing a race was far from the worst of plausible outcomes. As Lauda notes early in the film, "Twenty-five drivers start Formula One each year, and two of us die." (It's arguably an exaggeration, but only a slight one. Thankfully, a variety of additional safety measures have altered the sport such that no driver has been killed since 1994.)