Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

The Water Diviner

Joshua Connor (by Russell Crowe) can find water anywhere – it’s his gift. In Australia, water is critical for farm livelihood and Connor has found the perfect spot to settle his family and establish his farm. He and his wife, Eliza (by Jacqueline McKenzie) raise their three sons – Art (by Ryan Corr), Edward (by James Fraser) and Henry (by Ben O’Toole) very happily. World War I comes and the three teenage Connor boys volunteer for the Army. Joshua waves his sons off to war and wishes them adventure, great courage and victory. When news comes that all three sons have been killed, Joshua and Eliza are devastated. Their home is no longer happy, they are desolate and their lives become hopeless. Eliza pleads with Joshua … “You can find water anywhere – so why can’t you find your sons?”. Heartbroken, Eliza finds it difficult to carry on and Joshua heads to Gallipoli in Turkey to try to find his boys and bring them home …

This is an enjoyable adventure movie. It is based on true events and is beautifully shot both in Australia and Turkey. Some scenes are truly emotional and the performances in these are beautiful. There’s a lot of action and daring in much of the movie also. For ANZACs – Australians and New Zealanders – the timing is important as 2015 marks 100 years of this significant battle in both countries’ histories, so it becomes even more poignant. Overall, it’s entertaining. As Joshua, Russell Crowe does a good job – he’s authentic and (although it does hit a little at “Indiana Jones” in places) it’s a good story. It’s great to see so many Australian actors in this one too – Steve Bastoni, Dan Wyllie, Jacqueline MacKenzie and Damon Herriman are great. The original score is by Australian musician and composer David Hirschfelder also. As Ayshe, Olga Kurylenko is stunning – she is really beautiful and she is quite strong here. Yilmaz Erdogan is very good as Major Hasan and it is great to see super model Megan Gale make her film debut as Fatma. Young Dylan Georgiades does very well as Orhan. Overall it’s good.  Well done, director Russell Crowe.

Made in 2014. Directed by Russell Crowe.

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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Movies


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Broken City

Billy Taggart (played by Mark Wahlberg) loves being a cop, especially a cop in New York City – but he’s a bit hot-headed. After the highly publicized shooting of a rapist threatens to damage his career, the Mayor of New York, Nicholas Hostetler (by Russell Crowe) and Chief of Police, Carl Fairbanks (by Jeffrey Wright) step in and smooth things over for him. He’s publicly exonerated, but still disgraced in police circles, so he must quietly step out of the force. He sets up business as a private investigator. He’s run his business for seven years, he’s had a few jobs and things are bubbling along nicely, even if his clients hardly ever pay their bills. His girlfriend’s movie career is starting to take off and things are looking pretty rosy… then the Mayor comes calling – he wants to call in his favour. He’s on the eve of an election and suspects his wife Cathleen (by Catherine Zeta-Jones) of an affair. He can’t afford any trouble on the home front, so he wants Billy to investigate. Soon Billy realizes he’s uncovered much more than an illicit affair ….

This is a tried and true political drama … it promises a lot, but it’s a little bit “ho hum” really. There’s not quite enough here. The cast is very strong and the performances of Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg are good, but both a little predictable and the story just rolls along really. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a bit lost in this too – she looks great and her performance is acceptable, but this isn’t her best work by a long way. For me, the best performance is from Alona Tal who plays Billy’s assistant, Katy Bradshaw. She does very well and provides a good edge to Billy’s fairly “run of the mill” role. Natalie Martinez saves things a little too as Billy’s feisty girlfriend, Natalie Barrow. Also, it’s good to see Justin Chambers here, who I’m most familiar with as Dr Alex Karev in the television drama “Grey’s Anatomy”.  This movie is probably one you’d leave for television.

Made in 2013. Directed by Allen Hughes

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Movies


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The Insider

Lowell Bergman (played by Al Pacino) is a long experienced producer on the US “60 Minutes” television show. One day he receives some heavy research on the health effects of nicotine and contacts industrial chemist Jeffrey Wigand (by Russell Crowe) to interpret it for him. Wigand has recently been fired from his job at a tobacco company and Bergman sees that he has deep resentment about it. He follows his instinct and when Wigand is reluctant to talk to him for fear he will break his severance agreement with the company, Bergman senses a big story. Wigand gets more company pressure not to talk, which exposes him to rising tension and risks the safety of his wife Liane (by Diane Venora) and family. He agrees to a high-risk interview with Mike Wallace (by Christopher Plummer), then CBS must navigate all the legal and business ramifications to decide how best to present the story, for the benefit of everyone involved – Wigand, the tobacco companies, the public and themselves. Jeffrey Wigand finds out how it feels have the courage to “blow the whistle” and tell the truth for the greater good, but to go up against the might of big business at the same time.

This is a good drama. It’s a long movie, but that’s important to develop the story appropriately. I was not aware of this incident at the time, so I thought the movie would be primarily focused on Jeffrey Wigand, – it is, but the real star is Lowell Bergman. Al Pacino shines here – he’s just a natural talent. He portrays Bergman with authenticity and his performance balances very well with both Russell Crowe’s work and the performance of Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace – all three are excellent. The production is dark, literally, and there is little in the way of enhancement with music or visuals – which puts the focus squarely on the story – again, quite appropriately. This is not a story to be played with. Russell Crowe was nominated in several forums as Best Actor for this role (including the Academy Award [Oscar]). He was awarded by several Film Critics Societies, but he was not awarded an Oscar, yet again. Christopher Plummer received an award from the Boston Society of Film Critics in 2000 for his marvellous work. The production itself was severally nominated for Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Best Picture, Sound and Screenplay. It is based on the 1999 article “The Man Who Knew Too Much” by Marie Brenner. It’s good.

Made in 1999. Directed by Michael Mann.

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Posted by on June 2, 2013 in Movies


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Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

In 1805, Captain Jack Aubrey (played by Russell Crowe) is in command of the British frigate, HMS Surprise, as they participate in the war between England and Napoleon’s forces in France. The Surprise is ordered to sail to the Pacific to defend the British position there and to intercept any ships from the French Fleet that may set a course that way. Captain Aubrey is a long experienced seaman and an intrepid adventurer, who never shies away from a challenge.  As they near the South Seas, Aubrey and his crew engage with a french vessel,The Acheron, which quickly escalates into a firey battle – and Aubrey quickly learns The Acheron is much faster and larger than the Surprise, which presents him with a delicious but dangerous challenge. He relentlessly pursues The Acheron and his seemingly futile actions are baulked at by the ship’s other officers, primarily Dr Stephen Maturin (by Paul Bettany) the ship’s Surgeon and Botanist. Although he is a friend and trusted advisor to Aubrey, Maturin is never slow to remind him of his single-mindedness in this matter. As the drama unfolds across the waves, a series of incidents virtually leaves the Surprise in the hands of fate as Aubrey tries his utmost to find a way to fulfil his orders.

This is a great adventure story – I loved it. The resonant tones of Russell Crowe are perfect for the intrepid Captain Jack Aubrey and he inhabits this role perfectly. Dr Maturin is well cast – Paul Bettany brings such soul and passion to the scientist that the audience feels real empathy for him – it’s very well done. The production is great, costumes marvellous and the whole thing is just a jolly good “Boys Own” adventure, very enjoyable. You can almost feel cool sea air hit your face and taste the salty residue as you watch. I had hoped for more as the novels by Patrick O’Brian are in a serial. However, this has not yet eventuated unfortunately. The musical score is wonderful and it perfectly matches the emotion and drama of the movie. In the 2004 Academy Awards (Oscar) presentation, the movie won the awards for Best Cinematography and for Best Sound Editing. Well done, Peter Weir … can we have some more now please?

Made in 2003. Directed by Peter Weir

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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Movies


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Cinderella Man

James J. Braddock (played by Russell Crowe) is a hard-working man, struggling to eke out a living in New York City during the Great Depression of the 1920’s/30’s. He’s also a prize-fighter who has publicly and spectacularly fallen from grace. He’s hit rock bottom and is now battling injury and controversy, trying to support his wife Mae (by Renee Zellwegger) and their three children, but he’s finding it tough to get a bout. He’s unable to pay the bills so with his family in danger, to his utter repugnance he is forced to go on public welfare. But his determination to fight again, along with the strong love and honour he feels, drives him to keep trying to help his family. He summons the will to return to the ring. Nobody rates his chances, but driven by sheer grit Braddock fights on and starts to win, then keeps winning. Suddenly, this working man-in-the-street becomes an athlete, much adored, nicknamed the “Cinderella Man” and bearing the hopes and dreams of the depressed community. Until the day Braddock and his spirited manager Joe Gould (by Paul Giamatti) come up with a scheme that pits James against the reigning world heavyweight champ Max Baer (by Craig Bierko), who’s known as a killer in the ring …..

This is a great movie. Russell Crowe is marvellous and unapologetically brutal as James J. Braddock. But I didn’t find this offensive or overdone – it’s appropriate for this gritty role. Renee Zellwegger is great as the long-suffering Mae, I liked her performance a lot. As is quite often the case too, Paul Giamatti’s scenes are terrific – in fact, I’d say he and Russell Crowe are the stand-outs. The period environment and the ‘science’ of boxing gets a good airing. I did enjoy the toughness of the story and Russell Crowe’s outstanding athleticism and efforts as Braddock. This is a compelling real-life story of this family and Ron Howard does give it a “feel good” twist, which you may or may not appreciate. In 2006, Paul Giamatti was nominated as best supporting actor in the Academy Awards (Oscars) for this performance.  There are several books and documentaries about James J. Braddock and in general, I think this is a good movie.

Made in 2005.  Directed by Ron Howard.

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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Movies


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A Beautiful Mind

This is a fascinating bopic of John Nash, the Nobel prize-winning mathematician.

Russell Crowe plays John Forbes Nash Jr, who is a highly intelligent mathematician who has spent much of his life isolated from everyday society due to his distraction with mathematics and his ongoing struggle with mental illness. In 1948, he enrols at Princeton as a graduate student and is almost immediately labelled an odd-ball loner. He sets himself a personal quest to find a unique and completely original mathematical theorem. He works hard and keep to himself, occasionally socialising with other students, but mostly only with his roommate Charles (by Paul Bettany), who becomes his best friend. John makes a mathematical breakthrough (that will later earn him the Nobel Prize) – he establishes a name for himself in maths academia and is elevated to a professorship at MIT. While teaching there he becomes involved with one of his students, Alicia (by Jennifer Connelly) who he later marries. During this period, the US Government, represented by Department of Defense agent William Parcher (by Ed Harris) asks Nash for his help to break Soviet codes and he gets heavily involved in a conspiracy plot that traumatises him and shakes his world to its foundations. As a result, he starts to lose his sense of perspective and the boundaries of his reality become blurred with his expanding imaginary world. He is diagnosed with schizophrenia and eventually institutionalized. As he sinks deeper into his illness he withdraws from society and doesn’t surface back into academia until the 1970’s when he is well enough to take up his research and teaching once again. John Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994.

Director Ron Howard has done a wonderful job with this movie. The cinematography is effective and the acting is universally superb. How Russell Crowe didn’t receive an Oscar for this performance will always be a mystery to me. His work here is really fantastic. He portrays this incredible man through his soaring emotional highs and incredible lows, his episodes of schizophrenia, his realisation that he has a mental illness and has been living with hallucinations – this is all marvellous. Jennifer Connelly did get an Oscar – and much deserved for her work here. Together theirs is a great on-screen partnership and their demonstration of the relationship between John and Alicia is fascinating. As usual, Ed Harris is great in this tough-guy role too.

(Made: 2001)

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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Movies


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LA Confidential

It’s Los Angeles in the 1950”s, when the cops are tough but mostly crooked, bribery is rife, people have lives full of mystery and the tabloids splash the dirty linen of the rich and glamorous Hollywood stars allover their front pages.  Things are rarely what they seem. A murder has gone down and the cops are investigating. Three very different officers are on the case, but for different reasons: Ed Exley (played by Guy Pearce) is an ambitious fresh young cop who seeks the truth, Bud White (by Russell Crowe) is an experienced, hard-nosed but sensitive cop who seeks justice at almost any price and Jack Vincennes (by Kevin Spacey) is more interested in Hollywood and making movies, than actually being a policeman. The Chief of Detectives (by James Cromwell) is more shifty than all the rest and he is highly influenced by the politics of the day, so he runs his department accordingly. Bud White takes a fancy to a glamorous call girl Lynn, (by Kim Basinger) who is involved in a business run by an elusive millionnaire (by David Strathairn) and a tabloid journalist (by Danny DeVito) is always close enough to the action to get dirt to publish to his waiting audience. 

This is based on James Ellroy’s novel of the same name which forms part of his “LA Quartet”.  That was a complex story and this movie also has many facets – but it is entertaining and all the bits meet up at a satisfying end. Watch for a cameo appearance by a very young and fresh-faced Simon Baker too.  It’s one of my all time favourite movies.

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Movies


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