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Review: American Hustle

Dec. 12, 2013by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) is a small-time con artist, scamming a few thousand here and there from gullible marks. When he’s busted- along with his beautiful accomplice and lover (Amy Adams) by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) the two are forced into helping bust a crooked politician (Jeremy Renner) whose deeds soon lead them into a sting operation that could bust members of congress and the mob.

REVIEW: A movie like AMERICAN HUSTLE has the potential to be a breakout hit along the lines of ARGO. It’s smart and sophisticated adult fare that’s good enough to jockey for major awards consideration, but is also entertaining and fun enough that it could (and should) be embraced by the same mainstream audiences that made that movie a $100 million dollar hit. It’s a strong follow-up to THE FIGHTER and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK for director David O. Russell, even if it’s a thoroughly different kind of movie.

Truly, HUSTLE feels like O.Russell’s most ambitious work since THREE KINGS. As the opening text states, “some of this actually happened” so clearly the facts aren’t going to get in the way of us being told a good story. ABSCAM, where crooked politicians were videotaped taking bribes from a phony sheik actually did happen in the late seventies, but that story is secondary here.

Rather, this feels like a caper-comedy done with the epic scope of a Martin Scorsese crime epic (with a nifty cameo alluding to that), complete with narration that jumps from character-to-character. Christian Bale’s Irv Rosenfield is our “hero” here, being a sleazy con somewhat redeemed by his love for Adams - his alluring cohort, and his adopted son, mothered by Jennifer Lawrence in a scene-stealing turn. Sporting an elaborate comb over- the process of its construction lovingly detailed in the first scene- and a big gut, Bale’s Irv is outrageous but always likable. However, while Bale looks like a clown, with his velvet suits and always-present sunglasses, he’s actually playing the character with the biggest heart, and when the film takes a serious turn, it’s Bale whose performance is truly affecting.

Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper’s performance is along the same lines as his manic character from SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, only given a more narcissistic and dangerous edge. Perhaps trying to outdo Bale’s comb over, Cooper sports a perm that makes him look like a chia pet, and seems to be having the time of his life as the zonked-out Richie. Cooper’s hilarious as Richie gets wilder and wilder as the film goes on, and some of the best scenes in the movie deal with his interactions with his out-witted, nice-guy superior (played by Louis C.K). Of the guys, Renner probably has the least showy part, as the pompadour-wearing politico targeted by Bale and Cooper. Renner is great, although it feels like this performance will be underrated.

Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are also both excellent here. Adams has certainly never looked better as the alluring Sydney aka Lady Edith, who adopts a haughty English accent and various cleavage revealing dresses to pull in her marks. This is really one of Adams’ best performances ever, and if anyone deserves an Academy Award nomination, it’s her. Meanwhile, Lawrence chews the scenery as Bale’s insane trophy wife, and steals every scene she’s in. She’s both terrifying and sexy throughout.

Like the best period movies, the music of AMERICAN HUSTLE plays a big part in setting the film’s mood, and there are terrific set-pieces score with both period hits like Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow-Brick Road’ and Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, while other, deeper cuts prove O. Russell’s not just digging out all the old well-worn tunes. Lawrence’s demented sing-a-long/dance to Paul McCartney & Wings’ Bond theme song ‘Live & Let Die’ is a particular standout.

Truly, AMERICAN HUSTLE is a blast from start-to-finish and a major accomplishment for all involved. While it will no doubt get a bunch of Oscar nominations, it has broad appeal beyond that. It’s one of those movies that everyone- from critics to people simply looking for a good time- will enjoy.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
10:46AM on 01/07/2014

sorry, double post

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+3
4:12AM on 01/07/2014

This film was a mess! It's Jackie Brown with the looks of Boogie Nights only confusing and uninteresting. What is all the positive hype about?????

What do you get when you mix Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Martin Scorsese all together but with no pulse amongst a confusing/messy story, with some great acting some wacky hair and a lot of side boob? You get David O. Russel's America Hustle. It's Jackie Brown meets Boogie Nights with directors Wes Anderson and the great Martin Scorsese filmmaking style thrown into the mix. Only Russell's film is all style with a lot of confusion. Russell's proves he can direct in
What do you get when you mix Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Martin Scorsese all together but with no pulse amongst a confusing/messy story, with some great acting some wacky hair and a lot of side boob? You get David O. Russel's America Hustle. It's Jackie Brown meets Boogie Nights with directors Wes Anderson and the great Martin Scorsese filmmaking style thrown into the mix. Only Russell's film is all style with a lot of confusion. Russell's proves he can direct in a similar fashion to Tarantino, P.T., Wes, and Scorsese, only his film has no control over it's structure. Russell's Scorsese check off list goes: Awesome soundtrack songs, camera zooms and pans, a great cast, stylish to the time period, but somewhere in there Russell did not learn how to properly tell a great story here. He did with Three Kings, which was his last "great" film. What a mess of a con film. Christian Bale was fantastic, Amy Adams was great, Jeremy Renner was amazing, and Jennifer Lawrence was stunning. Bradley Cooper was none of these. He was Bradley Cooper playing Bradley Cooper, you know the guy from The Hangover who looks like he's always doing drugs off camera. Just saying. For about a solid hour I had no clue what this film was really about. I knew a big con was put in place, but it's never simply laid out for the audience as to what they're plan is, even though it's a con film with twists, in the beginning the plan is always well explained. Not here. American Hustle spends more time caring about it's looks, it's acting, it's zoom in's and zoom out's and camera pans than the film's own structure and story. A script with too many open gaps in between scenes and dialogue. Also, the pacing of the film was intolerable, the sudden pauses and cut aways from one character's lines to another made this film impossible to flow together with it's own dialogue. It works in scenes like Bradley Cooper asking his boss in the hallway to finish the rest of his ice fishing story (which was the biggest laugh in the film), but in scenes where Bale, Cooper, and Adams argue before the big con, these breath gaps are all over and slow the scenes to the speed of turtle. I get it everyone hustles others to survive. But in a story this big and this big of a cast I should not be spending an hour and a half trying to figure out which character I'm suppose to be caring about! Most of the characters of the film are idiots like in Pulp Fiction, which is great for a dark comedy. However, where as the characters of Pulp Fiction had great and interesting brainless topics to talk about, these characters have the most uninteresting dialogue and topics to talk about most of the time. Except for the ice fishing story. In the end this film based on "So me of these things are real" doesn't make for an easy good 2 hour plus sit through. The best way to describe American Hustle is like the wedding scene in the film classic Goodfellas, where Karen meets 2 dozens Peters and Pauls who are all married to girls named Marie. "By the time I was finished I thought I was drunk".
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-1
5:32AM on 12/24/2013

See this movie

Saw this today. Very entertaining, good story and the cast is awesome. I'm loving David O.'s work to this point.
Saw this today. Very entertaining, good story and the cast is awesome. I'm loving David O.'s work to this point.
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+1
12:26PM on 12/13/2013
This one of my must sees this year. I can't say I've been a massive fan of Russel. I've enjoyed all his films, but I felt like they were a bit overrated, especially Silver Linings, which I found somewhat unremarkable even if it was well made and acted. But this film had me from the first time I saw the trailer. It's the first film of his that I've been truly excited about.
This one of my must sees this year. I can't say I've been a massive fan of Russel. I've enjoyed all his films, but I felt like they were a bit overrated, especially Silver Linings, which I found somewhat unremarkable even if it was well made and acted. But this film had me from the first time I saw the trailer. It's the first film of his that I've been truly excited about.
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10:06AM on 12/12/2013
I've been REALLY anticipating this film ever since I saw the trailer. It looks phenomenal and it has an amazing cast. And it looks like everyone has really brought their best performances with them for this one.

Without a doubt my most anticipated film left of this year with Wolf of Wall Street in second.
I've been REALLY anticipating this film ever since I saw the trailer. It looks phenomenal and it has an amazing cast. And it looks like everyone has really brought their best performances with them for this one.

Without a doubt my most anticipated film left of this year with Wolf of Wall Street in second.
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5:09AM on 12/12/2013
I'm seeing this the night I finish my finals. My gift to myself.
I'm seeing this the night I finish my finals. My gift to myself.
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8:57AM on 12/12/2013
All the best for the finals!
All the best for the finals!
5:31PM on 12/12/2013
To all other who will be doing the same!
To all other who will be doing the same!
5:18PM on 01/08/2014
Don't be surprised if you end up disappointed....with American Hustle. Best of luck with your finals:)
Don't be surprised if you end up disappointed....with American Hustle. Best of luck with your finals:)
+11
4:34AM on 12/12/2013
Fuck Yes, getting this and Wolf of Wall Street within like a week apart is a very happy Christmas
Fuck Yes, getting this and Wolf of Wall Street within like a week apart is a very happy Christmas
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3:48AM on 12/12/2013
This movie might turn out to be the best picture of next year's Oscar.
This movie might turn out to be the best picture of next year's Oscar.
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8:10AM on 12/12/2013
Well since this comes out on the 20th it'll be considered a 2013 film and will be considered this years oscars..
Well since this comes out on the 20th it'll be considered a 2013 film and will be considered this years oscars..
8:24AM on 12/12/2013
Yeah, that's what I meant. My bad :]
Yeah, that's what I meant. My bad :]
5:32PM on 12/12/2013
I want Dave O'Russell to get a Best Director Oscar at minimum.
I want Dave O'Russell to get a Best Director Oscar at minimum.
5:21PM on 01/08/2014
God I hope not. I'd hate to seen great a film with a great story like Goodfellas get passed over, but a so-so film with a poorly told story like American Hustle get the grand prize.
God I hope not. I'd hate to seen great a film with a great story like Goodfellas get passed over, but a so-so film with a poorly told story like American Hustle get the grand prize.