Wednesday, January 1, 2014

AMERICAN HUSTLE

My friends who've seen AMERICAN HUSTLE either love it or hate it. After watching it tonight I can see why they both feel that way. I pretty much loved it. Christian Bale deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance, his best yet, and in any other year I'd say he should win it. But against the lead male performances in THE BUTLER and especially TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE I believe he shouldn't win it because the latter film, if there were any justice, should win almost every award. But I doubt it will. In fact a lot of of the smart money is on AMERICAN HUSTLE

But though it is a fast paced exhilarating ride of an entertaining film, mostly because of the performances, especially Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, it's just that, an entertaining escape. Despite some deep ideas about the challenges to living an honest life somewhere embedded in some of the story line and dialogue, ultimately it skims the surface for the laughs and the sexy surprises and the ride.

I actually knew one of the figures involved in the ABSCAM scandal, he was a friend of my father's because my father was an Essex County Democratic Party functionary in the years preceding the entrapment of the Congressman and Senator the sting the movie's more or less based on sent to jail. And I have to admit, having Jeremy Renner play an Italian Jersey mayor as the fictional figure representing the real victims of the sting bugged me.  His over the top hair etc.  But his performance grew on me and I began to appreciate it eventually.

No such problem with Adams and Cooper and Lawrence, and especially Bale. His fictional character was so believable and engaging, despite his glaring faults, I could have watched another movie with that character in it right after I finished this one! David O. Russell gets some credit as director for the pace and some original set ups and most of the casting and etc.  But the reason to watch the flick are the lead performances.  However, if AMERICAN HUSTLE beats out TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE for the Best Picture Oscar, or Best Lead Actor or Best Lead Actress, it'll be jive in my opinion.

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5 Comments:

Blogger tpw said...

Dear MDL: I know you have some kind of problem with Renner, but he was totally great in this movie. Completely convincing & sympathetic. I thought the opening scene (getting the toupe & comb-over exactly right) was kind of a parody of the opening of Mean Streets and, in fact, my only problem with Bale's performance was that I thought it mimicked DeNiro a bit too brashly. But Amy Adams and those dresses and her breasts---quite a show.

January 2, 2014 at 8:05:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I turned it off 2/3 rds thru....found it derivative and over directed

suzanne

January 3, 2014 at 4:42:00 AM EST  
Blogger Lally said...

Like I said in my post, my friends either loved it or hated it and above are two good examples of that. I can see what you mean about "over directed" Suzanne, but for me that aspect of it worked. I felt it was like a good old pop music album, fun to listen to but not all that much substance or just surfing whatever substance was there, etc. but the editing and soundtrack made that work for me. And Terence, I didn't find Bale's physical transformation as distracting as I did DiNiro's in RAGING BULL or Matthew Macaunaghy's in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB and I'm not rue why that is. I assumed Bale's was prosthetic, for one, while the other two guys really did change their bodies and thinking about that reality constantly reminded me they were actors who lost or gained a drastic amount of weight etc. whereas from the first shot of Bale's baldness and fat stomach I thought (oh, make up and prosthetics etc.) and gave in to the illusion as I would any fiction that works for me...

January 3, 2014 at 12:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger tpw said...

No, Bale gained the weight for real---43 lbs. See http://www.businessinsider.com/christian-bale-gained-weight-for-american-hustle-role-2013-12

January 4, 2014 at 9:39:00 AM EST  
Blogger Lally said...

Ha. If I'd known that I probably would have had a different reaction. His stomach looked fake to me! So I immediately surrendered to the idea of this being a movie movie, not anything trying to recreate reality (and though I didn't like it, Jenner's character's exaggerated pompadour reinforced that idea)...

January 4, 2014 at 12:37:00 PM EST  

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