Actor Geoffrey Rush turns 70

Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winner

ShineAlthough I’ve seen or heard the actor Geoffrey Rush in a number of movies, I always associate him with one. And no, it’s not Pirates of the Caribbean.

It’s Shine, from 1996. IMDB notes: “Pianist David Helfgott, driven by his father and teachers, has a breakdown. Years later he returns to the piano, to popular if not critical acclaim.”

Rush won the Oscar for Best Actor. The film received several other nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Dramatic Score. I bought the CD of the score; it is recommended.

Sometimes, it’s one movie that propels a performer from a working professional to someone who people can recognize by name. But I know almost nothing about the man’s life, other than he’s from Australia.

Again, from IMDB: He was born “in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, to Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His mother was of German descent and his father had English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He was raised in Brisbane, Queensland after his parents split up…”

“He performed in theater for a number of years… Film-goers finally began taking notice of Geoffrey after his performance in Children of the Revolution (1996).

“This led to THE role of a lifetime as the highly dysfunctional piano prodigy David Helfgott in Shine (1996). Rush’s astonishing tour-de-force performance won him every conceivable award imaginable, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, British Film Award, and Australian Film Institute Award.”


“Shine not only put Rush on the international film map but atypically on the Hollywood ‘A’ list as well. His rather homely mug…” Ouch. OK, he’s certainly not classically handsome, but…

His “completely charming, confident and captivating demeanor” allowed him to “more easily dissolve into a number of transfixing historical portrayals, notably his Walsingham in Elizabeth (1998) and Leon Trotsky in Frida (2002),” both of which I saw.

I’ve also appreciated his work in Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; Lantana (2001), a murder mystery; Finding Nemo (2003), voicing Nigel the seagull; and The King’s Speech (2010) as Lionel Logue.

“Rush’s intermittent returns to the stage have included productions of Marat-Sade, Uncle Vanya, Oleanna, Hamlet, and The Small Poppies. In 2009 he made his  Broadway debut in Exit the King,” written by Eugene Ionesco, co-starring Susan Sarandon, and co-adapted by Rush. He got a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance.

On television, he played Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) on HBO, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award, meaning he’s won the acting Triple Crown.

“His marriage (since 1988) to Aussie classical actress Jane Menelaus produced daughter Angelica (1992) and son James (1995). Menelaus, who has also performed with the State Theatre of South Australia, has co-starred on stage with Rush… She also had featured roles in a few of his films, including Quills (2000) and The Eye of the Storm (2011).”

Geoffrey Rush is a successful, talented actor, who largely travels below the radar of a lot of people.

MOVIES-The King’s Speech; The Fighter; The Social Network

I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg’s less than stellar image in this movie had anything to do with the real Mark donating a ton of money to the schools in Newark, NJ?

I had seen a paltry number of 2010 films. Once the nomination period – SAG/Golden Globes/Academy Awards – starts, I tend to at least try to see a lot more of the movies that a) are still available in theaters and b) reviewed well. I’ve discovered in recent years, though, that a third criterion has crept into the movies, ones that c) won’t totally creep me out. For instance, despite the PG-13 rating, the True Grit remake reportedly contains surprisingly bloody bits of action and violence.

Whereas, The King’s Speech, which I saw with my wife on December 30 at the Spectrum Theatre for our monthly date, is rated R, but it is almost certainly based entirely on language, specifically the repeated use of the F-word, and other salty talk. But it is done in the context of the future King George VI of Britain dealing with his speaking issues, and not gratuitous. Considering that the storyline is both quite straightforward, and the context historically familiar – Mrs. Wallis Simpson is a pivotal character – it was amazingly affecting, in no small part due to great use of music. And funny; I’m talking LOL, in an intelligent manner. Colin Firth might receive another Oscar nomination, after last year’s A Simple Man. But I’d wager that Geoffrey Rush, who I first could identify in 1995’s Shine, will get a Best Supporting Actor nod.

Maybe the beginning of The Fighter, which I saw New Year’s Eve at the local Madison Theater (rated R for language throughout, drug content, sexuality, and some boxing violence) was really good; maybe. I found this dysfunctional family surrounding/suffocating boxer Micky Ward really irritating, especially the Greek chorus of sisters who must have been rejects from The Real Housewives of Lowell, Massachusetts. He also has a manipulative, guilt-tripping mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), and a “Glory Days” older brother/ex-boxer with a drug problem Dicky (Christian Bale), balanced only slightly by people such as girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams). But there was a particular point – Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” was playing, when the movie finally took off for me. I see why Leo, nominated a couple of years ago for Frozen River, and Bale is getting Oscar buzz.

Finally, finishing my trifecta, back to the Spectrum on New Years Day for The Social Network (rated PG-13). I thought I was the last person in the country to see this in the theater, but the packed, albeit small screening room belied that. Of the three, this one is the most…cinematic, makes the most use of the fact that’s it a movie, with various locales. Still, I really enjoyed the framing story of a deposition, from which the narrative flowed. Did Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) rip off the twins (played primarily by Armie Hammer) and his former partner Eduardo (Andrew Garfield)? I think possibly not, and absolutely, respectively. But it’s great storytelling by Aaron Sorkin that was most impressive. And a great last song! I wonder if Zuckerberg’s less-than-stellar image in this movie had anything to do with the real Mark donating a ton of money to the schools in Newark, NJ? That fact, the movie, and Facebook’s 500,000,000 member got Zuckerberg TIME Person of the Year honors for 2010.

So, I go to three movies in three days, all starting with the article The, and I hit on three stories all based, more or less, on actual events, in 1930s England, 1980s Massachusetts, and 2000s Massachusetts, watched, totally coincidentally, in chronological order. I suppose The King’s Speech was my favorite – STILL have that Beethoven piece stuck in my head – but they all were worthwhile.

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