American Hustle (2013) Review

20140115-120140 am.jpg
American Hustle (2013)

Directed by David O Russell

Starring:
Christian Bale
Bradley Cooper
Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Jennifer Lawrence
Louis C.K.

Running time: 138 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Hustle is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early ’80s. It stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams as two con artists who are forced by an FBI agent (played by Bradley Cooper) to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (played by Jeremy Renner). Jennifer Lawrence supports the cast as the unpredictable wife of Bale’s character.

20140115-120918 am.jpg
My Opinion:

Be brief… Be brief… (Trying to make myself keep this short – I ramble on too much!)

This movie was good. Not great. A little overrated. (Sorry). I came away from it with the same sort of feeling I had after finally watching Silver Linings Playbook recently. Some very good performances in both films but, overall, something is missing. They both feel a little hollow. And come to think of it, I felt sort of the same way about The Fighter (I reviewed that in my early days HERE. Ugh – I should re-read that before linking to it. My old reviews were even worse than my current ones).

20140115-121216 am.jpg
Like with the other David O Russell films I’ve seen, it’s more about the performances in this one than the story itself. Don’t get me wrong – the story is okay but didn’t exactly blow me away. I was more excited to see the female actresses in this than the actors as I don’t really like Bradley Cooper or, especially, Christian Bale. However, Bale ended up being the best thing about the film – I really warmed to his character by the end of the movie. I love Amy Adams and think she also did a good job in this (and I loved all her 70’s outfits even though seeing so much of her boobs got a little disturbing after a while when I just watched her as a Disney Princess in Enchanted the other day). Lawrence & Cooper were good but I felt a bit like I’d just watched them doing somewhat similar characters in Silver Linings Playbook.

20140115-121249 am.jpg
Summary:

American Hustle has a lot of the elements I like: Great actors & performances, decent script, good music (ELO!), and the 70s (I love that ugly-ass decade). But something about it didn’t QUITE work (for me) overall. It was good. I enjoyed it. Bale & Adams were great. It’s the first film I’ve gone to in 2014 but I already know where it’ll rank in my end of year list: somewhere in the middle. I’m looking forward to The Wolf Of Wall Street more, which comes out here on Friday. Will be interesting to see which one I prefer.

My Rating: 7/10

20140115-121315 am.jpg

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Review

20131221-115859 am.jpg
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Directed by David O Russell

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence
Robert De Niro
Jacki Weaver
Anupam Kher
Chris Tucker

Music by Danny Elfman

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Cooper plays Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, a man with bipolar disorder who is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves back in with his parents (De Niro and Weaver). Determined to win back his estranged wife, Pat meets recently widowed Tiffany Maxwell (Lawrence). She tells Pat that she will help him get his wife back if he enters a dance competition with her. The two become closer as they train and Pat, his father, and Tiffany examine their relationships with each other as they cope with their issues.

20131221-120051 pm.jpg
My Quickie Opinion:

I’m determined to finish reviewing every single movie that I watched this year before the 1st of January. After this one, I have only 11 left to do. More about that later… But that means I’m going to make these reviews “quickies”.

20131221-120204 pm.jpg
I was a tiny bit disappointed with Silver Linings Playbook. It’s one of those where it got a lot of hype when it was out & I was eager to see it but just didn’t manage to while it was in the cinema. I finally saw it a few months ago and… Unfortunately, I just didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype & the Oscar nominations/win.

20131221-120259 pm.jpg
I think Jennifer Lawrence is a great young actress & I can’t wait to see her in more & more movies. But an Oscar WIN for this? I don’t know… She’s great in it & I liked her character & her character’s relationship with Bradley Cooper but I think this was a case of rewarding someone that Hollywood wants to see become a bigger & bigger star. Of course, I still haven’t seen any of the other nominees that were up against her (other than Naomi Watts in The Impossible) so I suppose I have no right to an opinion – Lawrence’s performance really may have been the very best one. Don’t freak out, people! Jennifer Lawrence is currently one of my favorite actresses – I’m only saying that I doubt this will be her best role in her whole career. I mean, she was even better in Winter’s Bone. Chill, people! Lawrence IS great in Silver Linings Playbook.

20131221-120511 pm.jpg
The best performance, however, was Bradley Cooper’s so it’s unfortunate that he wasn’t the Oscar winner in this film. I know he was up against very stiff competition, though, so he didn’t really have a chance. I’m not a Bradley Cooper fan. I don’t hate him – I just hadn’t really noticed him in anything he’d been in before this. I’m not a fan of movies like The Hangover so it was good seeing him in a very different sort of “actor-y” role. Yes, I said actor-y. God this review sucks. I’m tired. I really liked Cooper in this. Let’s move on.

20131221-120543 pm.jpgThe story itself was decent. Who doesn’t love a movie full of dysfunctional people? Although I just praised Cooper & Lawrence, a lot of the credit also goes to the script (or book, I guess) for creating these memorable characters. Robert De Niro was also very good as Cooper’s equally messed-up father. I prefer De Niro in these sort of roles.

Lawrence, Cooper & De Niro and their relationships with each other were definitely the highlights of the film.The rest of the film, sadly, has already started to fade from my mind three months later. So, yeah – Sorry this isn’t a very in depth review! The main other thing I remember, other than the dance competition which was indeed fun, was lots of football talk. Football football football. Ugh – I hate football! And I didn’t really connect much with any other characters in this beyond the three I’ve mentioned.

20131221-120628 pm.jpg
Summary:

Silver Linings Playbook is a decent film with some memorable characters, a good mix of drama & laughs, and very good performances from the lead actors. However, I don’t exactly think it’s an all-time classic that’s up there with some of the other Best Picture nominees in Oscar’s history.

My Rating: 7/10

20131221-120659 pm.jpg
A Note From Me:

I hope you enjoyed that sucky quickie review. 🙂 These are the 11 movies I have left to write about – Feel free to put in the comments which movie you’d like to see a sucky quickie review for next. I’ll try to get to all of them!

Shame
Pitch Perfect
Nowhere Boy
Vanishing Point
The Pink Panther (1964)
Fun Size
All Good Things
Sound Of My Voice
Man On A Ledge
The Iron Giant
Big

I’d also like to say I’m sorry for not visiting many blogs in the past month or so. Things have been very hectic & I’m just not finding the time to keep up with reading everyone’s blogs. I’m curious – How do the rest of you keep up? I don’t find the Reader all that easy plus, when you’re a good week or two behind, it’s too much to go through that way. I also don’t want e-mails – they would pile up and it would take me weeks to read them all. I feel like I need to quit my job so I can blog full-time! 😉