Monday, January 20, 2014

American Hustle

Nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Basically, just from the cast alone, I wanted to see this movie ever since the first trailer premiered.  Anyone who reads my blogs knows I love a good ensemble cast, of course a great one is even better.  I love it when the great ensemble has a dynamic that radiates from the screen and play off each other like a perfectly tuned piano.  Individually, these are a supremely talented group of actors.  As an ensemble, they are good, but not great.  The movie is also good, but not great.

The plot behind American Hustle can be a little complicated to explain but I will give it the old college try.  A businessman (Christian Bale) and his beautiful British partner (Amy Adams) are forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to pull off an elaborate con in order to capture some of New Jersey's most powerful politicians in a twisted, yet comical plot filled with greed, corruption, and a double-cross around every corner. If you haven't seen this yet, make sure when you do to pay close attention to the details.  Yes, it is one of those movies but as long as you pay close attention, the very loaded plot will definitely make sense to you.  The story line is actually very cool and well written and the late 1970's setting was also a very big selling point with me.  Of course too, there was the music, love the music from that era. 

The beginning was a bit slow for me and took a little time getting off the ground.  Towards the middle of the 2 hour 18 minute long film, it started to get interesting and the various plot lines began to come together.  Even though it is considered comedy (it did win Best Picture Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes), I call it a dramedy.  There were plenty of times me and my movie buddy laughed but there were also an equal amount of oh sh*# or oh no she/he didn't moments, including the ending.

Finally, the part I love to write on, the performances.  There is no doubt this is a great cast of actors, even a couple of surprise cameos I wasn't expecting.  Amy Adams and Christian Bale stole the show and were definitely the stand-outs in this film.  Their performances were flawless portraying characters that fit perfectly together and I was very convinced by them.  They most definitely deserve their Best Actor/Actress nominations.  The other major players, not so much.  Bradley Cooper's Richie DiMaso is much of the comic relief on the movie and he does a very good job but it's an uneven performance.  In the beginning of the movie, I was already thinking there really could have been some one better cast in the role.  However, he does get better as the movie goes on.  Maybe that is because of the writing or the storyline getting better and deeper.  This also is the case with Jeremy Renner's Mayor Carmine Polito.  Renner is a great actor (he was AMAZING in The Hurt Locker and The Town), but I was picturing someone else in the role.  I cannot put my finger on exactly who it could be but it's just not him.  Finally, there is the unstoppable Jennifer Lawrence, who at the age of 23 is already on her third Academy Award nomination, with a win last year for Silver Linings Playbook.  Her tour-de-force performance in the exceptional dark family drama, Winter's Bone put her on the map and now she is Hollywood's sweetheart.  Now, her portrayal as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the woman who nearly brought the whole operation to it's knees, was awesome. She was naive, heartfelt, emotional, and even funny throughout the movie but it was very similar to Cooper's.  At first, she was okay but during the movie, it was like she was growing into her character as we watched and it was very interesting.  I didn't find her convincing during the beginning but was definitely drawn in in the last hour and a half.  It's no secret the girl has a bright future ahead of her.

This film is far, far from being a stinker but I really would have not paid the $8.50 if I weren't trying to watch all of the Oscar nominated movies.  I am glad I saw it, the writing is solid, love the costumes and of course the 1970's backdrop is very groovy.  There are some very noteworthy scenes.  But alas, unless you are watching the award contenders like myself, don't get hustled or conned into the theater prices, wait for the very cheap rental.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

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