Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

My Thoughts on: A Beautiful Mind (2001)

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* This review was requested by Patreon subscriber @AlienPizzareia 🙂

A Beautiful Mind is a biographical film based on the life of American mathematician John Nash (1928-2015). It was directed by Ron Howard and stars Russell Crowe as Nash and Jennifer Connelly as his wife Alicia.

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The film starts as many biopics do: the young Nash arrives at Princeton to study mathematics and eventually publishes an original idea that earns him a position at MIT. While at school, he becomes friends with his roommate Charles Herman (Paul Bettany). Everything seems to be going great: not only is Nash’s career taking him places, he also falls in love with and marries Alicia with the support of his former roommate. So far it’s typical of what you find in films of this sort. But then something happens that turns everything you thought you knew on its head.

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Midway through the film, Nash is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and it turns out that his roommate, his roommate’s niece and several other characters we’ve already met, were not real. This bombshell changes everything about the beginning of the film when you take into account that in every scene where Nash is talking to his roommate…there isn’t anyone actually there!! The result of this revelation (for me at least), is that for the rest of the film you can’t help but wonder how many of the people Nash talks to are real or hallucinations (Ron Howard does a good job of blurring the lines between reality and hallucination throughout the film).

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I admit I have a hard time with the latter half of the film: there’s a disturbing sequence where Nash is given electroshock therapy to try and cure his schizophrenia (a disorder that was not well understood at the time), not to mention an equally disturbing scene where his infant son nearly drowns in a bathtub. Despite these scenes, I can deeply appreciate how the film follows Nash as he struggles to rebuild his life to something resembling ‘normal.’

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The late James Horner turned in a fantastic score for this film. It shifts and turns, very much as Nash’s mind does when considering a mathematical problem. And before the revelation of schizophrenia, the music goes down a suspenseful path, especially once Nash starts doing ‘secret government work’ and believes he’s being followed.

A Beautiful Mind is one of those films that everyone should see at least once, because it is a masterpiece and it most definitely deserved to win the Oscar for Best Picture. A big thank you to @AlienPizzareia for requesting this review, it’s been a long time since I watched this one. Let me know what you think of A Beautiful Mind in the comments below and have a great day!

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Has Gladiator’s Music Score Been Unfairly Forgotten?

“Are you not entertained?” boomed Russell Crowe in Gladiator, a movie that hit the headlines again recently, 18 years after it first hit our screens. It was after Mr. Crowe decided that it was time to sell off some of his personal effects, including a jockstrap from one of his movies and a fake Roman chariot used in Gladiator. Well, to answer your question, Mr. Crowe, we were entertained (as you can see from our review), but while we remember the classic quotes from the movie and the stunning landscape that provided a backdrop to the action, one aspect has been lost slightly in any discussions about the movie which won the 73rd Academy Award for Best Picture. That aspect is the music for the movie, which was created by a legend in his industry: Hans Zimmer.

Do casino games represent a sign of the times?

Zimmer won awards at the Golden Globes, but the critical legacy seems to have revolved around the graphics used in the movie, with more awards for the likes of best costume design picked up by Gladiator than plaudits for the score. The visual effects and costumes at the time were stand-out, but looking back, they don’t seem like anything special, especially compared to costumes and backdrops from the stunning period dramas we’ve seen from the past decade (think Downton Abbey or Versailles for good examples of this).
The music, meanwhile, when you watch the movie again, hasn’t aged at all, despite the raft of technological changes which have emerged since the movie’s production. It is the look of the movie that has arguably had the biggest impact on pop culture as well; one look at the details about this fantastic game shows that there is far more of a focus on the aesthetics of the game rather than the music, which focuses primarily on sound effects like beeps and chimes.

 

This Platinum Play casino review shows that the Gladiator slot reached new heights of popularity, becoming one of the most popular games from that particular operator, highlighting how the music has become something of the forgotten element of the award-winning movie.

Not the only snub to Hans

For as much as it may seem unfair, Zimmer perhaps won’t have been overly surprised by his snub. After all, he has already seen his score for Hannibal be horribly underrated. With tracks like The Battle and Now We Are Free significant pieces of music, it is still a tragedy that the blood and guts is what sticks in the mind all these years later, and that the selling off of items by Russell Crowe can still be what grabs the headlines, rather than the inspirational work of a great movie soundtrack composer.

The CV and the awards that Hans Zimmer has earned throughout his career highlight that he is a man who has clearly earned appreciation in the world of music, even if he hasn’t been able to remain memorable in public consciousness. For the time being, if you want to enjoy Hans Zimmer, you just need to watch movies as diverse as The Lion King, Inception, and, of course, Gladiator, to hear him at his finest. 

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My thoughts on: Gladiator (2000)

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James Horner talks A Beautiful Mind (2001)

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Unbelievably, it’s been 15 years since A Beautiful Mind took the cinematic world by storm. Based on the real-life story of mathematician John Nash (1928-2015), the film follows Nash from his days at Princeton, through his diagnosis with paranoid schizophrenia and the struggles that came with dealing with an illness that was not well understood yet. It’s not even clear for a good portion of the film that Nash is seeing things that aren’t there. A good case in point comes with Nash’s roommate at Princeton Charles. He’s introduced the way any other character would be, he talks with Nash and even walks in public with him and later introduces his young niece. I remember being totally shocked when it was revealed that only Nash could see Charles (it put certain episodes at Princeton in a completely different light).

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A Beautiful Mind took home four Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. It also received four additional nominations for Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Best Original Score.

I don’t remember exactly when I saw this movie for the first time, but I do remember it had something to do with school (we might have been learning about mental illness). I should also mention that I knew nothing about Nash before watching this film, so the revelation that so many of Nash’s “friends” were delusions came as a huge surprise to me, and it made me question every interaction Nash had for the rest of the film.

James Horner talks A Beautiful Mind (2001)

For this film, director Ron Howard called upon composer James Horner to assemble the musical score and oh did he ever! Horner gives an eloquent description of how he assembled the musical themes for this film and not only that, he also described his thought process for creating a film score in general (he compares it to painting, which is just beautiful!) Considering it’s been just under a year since he passed away, I felt a few tears come to my eyes, knowing that a talent like this was gone from the world.

Please enjoy listening to how the music for A Beautiful Mind was put together!

If you’re interested in learning more about James Horner’s film scores, see here

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*the film poster is the property of Universal Pictures

My thoughts on: Gladiator (2000)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Set in the year 180 AD, the film follows the saga of General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) as he is betrayed by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) after the latter murders his father, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (when he revealed to Commodus that he was going to restore the Republic). Maximus is sent to be executed when he discovers what Commodus has done but he manages to escape and races back home, only to discover that his wife and son have been brutally murdered, his home burned to the ground.

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Maximus is subsequently captured by slavers and becomes a gladiator in a backwater town of the Empire. Meanwhile, Commodus has returned to Rome and proceeds to enjoy life as an Emperor, giving the people an unending stream of “bread and circuses” so that no one notices that he’s really a terrible ruler.

Phoenix’s performance as the slowly-going-mad Emperor is really spine-chilling at times. He comes off as slightly buffoonish in the beginning, but once he really begins to go mad (I’m thinking of the scene where he threatens to kill his nephew unless his sister does whatever he wants), he’s quite terrifying.

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Of course Maximus inevitably makes his way to Rome as a gladiator, to fight in the great Colosseum. He vainly attempts to hide his identity (fearing that he’ll be killed on the spot if recognized), but the Emperor demands to know who he is, leading to one of the greatest movie lines of all time:

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.

And vengeance he gets, though not without paying the ultimate price in return.

The score for this brilliant film was composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer. Some have noted that the music in many battle scenes bears a distinct resemblance to the music from “Mars: The Bringer of War” composed by Gustav Holst (so much so in fact that at one point the Holst Foundation sued Zimmer on the grounds that he had plagiarized Holst’s work). Also, Commodus’s triumphal entry into Rome contains music that seems to evoke two of Richard Wagner’s operas “The Rhine Gold” and “Twilight of the Gods.”

It’s been a while since I watched this movie, but it is indeed a modern classic that everyone should see at least once in their lives.

*poster is the property of DreamWorks Pictures

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Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

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Marco Beltrami talks 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Copyright Lions Gate Entertainment. 2007

The 2007 film 3:10 to Yuma is a remake of the 1957 film of the same name, and tells the story of impoverished rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), who agrees to transport wanted outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the train station so he can board the 3:10 train to Yuma Territorial Prison. This mission is far from simple as Wade’s gang is in hot pursuit of their leader and will kill to free him again.

Evans, on the other hand, is seeking the $200 he will earn for safely delivering Evans to the train because it will greatly help his family. It also comes out that he wants to restore some sense of honor to his life so his sons will have something positive to remember about their father when they’re grown.

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By the end of the story, Evans is the only one of Wade’s captors still alive and the outlaw has developed a modicum of respect for the rancher (though an outlaw, Wade does have his own principles and he respects those who also have a firm sense of principles). Evans gets Wade all the way to the train only to be fatally shot by Prince, one of Wade’s men (despite Wade’s order that Prince not shoot).

Disgusted at the loss of a good man, Wade steps off the train and executes his entire gang before cheerfully surrendering to the authorities (thus ensuring that Evan’s contract is fulfilled and Evans’ sons will receive the money). Though he’s on the train to prison, he whistles for his horse, which follows along, implying that he’ll be on the loose again before long.

As a general rule, I am not overly fond of remakes. However, this film is an enjoyable way to pass a few hours, and the score is well done. The interview provides a great insight into how Beltrami put the score together. Enjoy!

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Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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