Monday, January 13, 2014

Jason Watches AMERICAN HUSTLE

And my favorite part is the opening text, "Some of this actually happened." (Slate has a good article on what did and didn't happen for real.)

I liked it quite a bit, despite the fact that I'm a bit too young to remember the Abscam operation. The acting is great. Christian Bale is again a trouper undergoing a physical transformation to play a pudgy conman with an "elaborate" hairpiece. Bradley Cooper is great as the zealous FBI agent in over his head. Amy Adams is great, Jennifer Lawrence is great but isn't given enough to work with (she's basically a force of chaos.) And I especially liked Jeremy Renner as a corrupt-ish New Jersey politician (but see, his corruption is always for the people so he's really a good guy!) Robert De Niro appears in a cameo, essentially playing Robert De Niro, but he's just always great to see on screen.

The thing is...as much as I liked it (and I did) I didn't think it was that award-worthy. There's something that just...bugs me about David O. Russell. He makes good movies, maybe even great movies, but lately they always seem to get more praise than I think they deserve. SPANKING THE MONKEY and FLIRTING WITH DISASTER were great "indie" works that have deserved cult followings. THREE KINGS was a surprisingly good movie--what looked like a "bro" war-comedy turned out to be very thoughtful and anti-war (but still with a sly sense of humor.) I HEART HUCKABEES is actually my favorite of his work, although it has his lowest Rotten Tomatoes score. Then I never saw THE FIGHTER, maybe it really is excellent and he's coasting off the glory of that one, because that's when I think overpraising Russell became common. THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, while well made and funny, I thought it was badly overwritten. And I get the same sense from AMERICAN HUSTLE. I can't put my finger on it the same way as I could with THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, I just feel like it's good but not deserving of all the praise and award nominations it's getting.

Running Time: 138 minutes
My Total Minutes: 346,727

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