Ron Howard's Rush takes on Formula One racing

Ron Howard’s new movie, “Rush” that re-creates the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda highlights a short list of movies opening the weekend of September 19-21. Also opening is “Enough Said,” one of James Gandolfino’s last big-screen appearances, opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a romantic comedy.

Rush takes on the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda, two highly skilled race car drivers who start up a rivalry beginning in 1970 at a Formula Three race at the Crystal Palace circuit in England. Hunt is a young, brash Briton, while Lauda is the cooler technical genius who relies on racing precision for his success. Their rivalry helped push the sport into mainstream consciousness in the early to mid 1970s, culminating in the 1976 season as they battled for the championship. Hunt beat Lauda by one point, but only after a controversial race in which Lauda was seriously injured and had to sit on the sidelines while Hunt came from behind.

Howard, whose first movie as a director was “Grand Theft Auto,” returns to an auto theme with the challenge of making Formula One racing exciting to American audiences, a sport that has never really caught on here like it has in the rest of the world.

Enough Said stars the late James Gandolfini
Enough Said stars the late James Gandolfini

Enough Said stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus opposite James Gandolfini (in one of his final film roles) as a divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she’s interested in learns he’s her new friend’s ex-husband (Gandolfini).

Early reviews say the movie and performances are solid all around, but of course the big story here is the great Gandolfini, who died earlier this year of a heart attack while on vacation in Italy.

Though not an obvious leading man, Gandolfini had enough acting chops to play a variety of roles, such as the woman-beating Mob henchman Virgil in True Romance, enforcer/stuntman Bear in Get Shorty, and the impulsive Wild Thing Carol in Where the Wild Things Are, so a turn in a romantic comedy should not have been outside his ability.

Gandolfini garnered enormous praise for his portrayal of Tony Soprano, winning three Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Golden Globes for Best Actor – Drama Series as well as two further SAG Awards as a member of the series’ ensemble.

Other films opening this weekend include: Hugh Jackman in “Prisoners” and Sam Rockwell in “A Single Shot.”

Culture Ron Howard's "Rush" and Gandolfini's "Enough Said" highlight movies opening this weekend