Friday, January 31, 2014

American Hustle

*** out of ****

American Hustle is a decently playful little "Goodfellas-lite" period film about con artists and an FBI sting. While based on true events, it has one of the most honest prefaces I’ve seen at the beginning of a film: “Some of this actually happened.”

I feel like there's not a lot to talk about. David O. Russell's direction is competent and stylish inspiring loose, unrestrained, entertaining -though not always believable- performances. 

I feel as thought the accolades are a little overblown. I never got the impression that this movie was aiming for the the sky. It's just kind of a fun, well-directed seventies-set movie with a few true-to-life bits of buried twentieth century American history.

I didn't really care about its characters. I just got entertainment out of the mess they were in and their funny ways of coping. 

Christian Bale is great as a man under a huge pile of shit he's created. Bradley Cooper's comic timing is genius. Amy Adams creates a person who is always reinventing herself and probably deserves the most credit for that kind of complexity. Jennifer Lawrence is hilarious as a woman with a talent for rationalizing her destructive and self-destructive actions. Jeremy Renner... Well, we know he's good. Also, Louis C.K. achieves laughs and pity like no other human being.

Russell's films have a similarity to Soderbergh's body of work. You don't always have to expect something grand. Just good, unpretentious and efficient filmmaking with dependable ensembles. 

American Hustle is good work but what's with all the awards and nominations? Russell's The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook were both much better movies. It's my opinion that he and his cast are getting what I would call, "followup hype."

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