AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)

american-hustle

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon – Producers)
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Christian Bale)
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Amy Adams)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bradley Cooper)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Lawrence)
  • Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten)
  • Best Costume Design (Michael Wilkinson)
  • Best Production Design (Judy Becker – Production Design; Heather Loeffler – Set Decoration)
  • Best Director (David O. Russell)
  • Best Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)

Christopher

The best parts of this film are Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. I kind of wish it was just about them because I didn’t find this story to be particularly compelling. This is the kind of movie where there is a kind of reveal at the end but I’m not sure if it’s really a surprise because you see it coming from the very beginning. I thought this movie started off stronger than it ended. I’m really not a David O. Russell fan in the first place and I really wanted to like this but I just find everything he does to be so boring. I can barely sit through anything he does and it’s not really because I’m completely uninterested in the subject, I just think he’s a poor director.

I did like this better than Silver Linings Playbook though, but I wouldn’t watch it again.

Elizabeth

The fact that America’s “A Horse With No Name” played in probably the first 15 minutes of American Hustle really should have told me everything I needed to know about how I would feel about the movie. Because, you might not know this about me, but I happen to think that song is maybe the worst song ever created by man.

So, while American Hustle was substantially better than the train wreck that was Silver Linings Playbook, I still just didn’t really like it. And despite SLP, I wanted to like American Hustle. I love Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. And they were all great in it. But to me, their performances really weren’t enough to make the movie completely worthwhile.

I’m going to take a controversial stance and say what I’ve thought for a long time: that Amy Adams is actually not that great of an actress. I’m not saying she’s bad. I thought she was very good in The Master. But I think that’s mostly because her character in that is supposed to be pretty stiff and calculating, and I think that’s how she comes off in every movie. All during American Hustle I just kept thinking that she was acting, which isn’t really a great characteristic. Also, I just don’t think she’s sexy. Which I never cared about or thought twice about until this movie, when she’s supposed to be ultra sexy. Amy Adams is gorgeous and can be very cute, but sexy? Especially not compared to Jennifer Lawrence.

So I guess the biggest problem I had with American Hustle is I didn’t really understand the point of anything anyone did. Irving (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney (Amy Adams) are con artists that promise loans to people, but take their money instead. They end up getting caught in the act by Richie (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent. In exchange for their immunity, Richie has Irving and Sydney teach him about cons so that the FBI will be better able to catch con artists. Aaaaand this is where the movie lost me. They end up targeting Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a New Jersey mayor that is genuine and beloved by everyone. They basically entrap him, as far as I could gather. I couldn’t understand why they went after Polito in the first place. Why go after a good politician, rather than criminals or at least corrupt politicians? They do end up nabbing corrupt politicians, but at the expense of Polito. There’s also messiness with Richie and Sydney, as Sydney has somehow hidden her real identity from the FBI and is pretending to be British. WHY? I just didn’t get the point.

The best parts of American Hustle were, by far, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. Christian Bale was not the Christian Bale that I swooned over as a kid here: he was fat, hairy, and had a bad comb-over. But he was so great. Irving goes through most of the movie annoyed at everyone else not listening to him, even though he’s basically the only one who really knows what he’s doing. I loved seeing him get pissed off at Richie, who was basically insane. Even though I don’t really like Bradley Cooper, I did like his character because it felt like he was playing a similar character to the one in SLP, except this time it’s not just Chris and me who think he’s a total joke, it’s all the characters in the movie, too! And man, Jennifer Lawrence was great. I’m not sure it was exactly an Oscar-worthy performance, especially compared to someone like June Squibb, but she was great as Rosalyn, Irving’s possible insane wife. I really just enjoyed how genuine Irving was, which is weird to say about a character who’s a con artist. But he obviously truly loved Sydney, and truly cared about Rosalyn and her son, whom he adopted. He was sensitive and funny, which was nice to see in a movie like this.

I don’t want to say don’t see American Hustle because I feel like I’m in the minority of not really liking it. And it’s always worth seeing Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in pretty much anything. Buuuuut . . . there’s better stuff out there.

Advertisements

LIVE ACTION SHORTS 2014

We went to a screening of all the Oscar nominated live action short films. Here they are:

HELIUM – 2014

Helium

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson)

Elizabeth

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis mooooooooooooooooooovie. It’s about a dying kid. COOL! Now, Helium was not poorly made or poorly acted or anything. In fact, it was well-made and well-acted. But why does this story need to be told? It doesn’t. It’s about a kid dying of a terminal illness and the hospital worker who tells him the story of Helium, a place that is like heaven, but not, somehow. Yeah, I was weeping by the end of this. But I wasn’t happy about it. This movie is too easy, because of course you’re going to get emotion when you have a cute kid dying. Ugh. HATED THIS.

Christopher

Boring and cheap. It’s about a kid dying and a guy just telling him about Helium, which is basically heaven.

THE VOORMAN PROBLEM – 2012

voormanproblem

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Mark Gill and Baldwin Li)

Elizabeth

I liked the idea behind The Voorman Problem but I think it actually suffered from being a short film rather than feature length. It reminded me a bit of La Moustache but less depressing. I feel like this short would make a good TV series, but it definitely ended with me feeling like I didn’t get everything out of it that I should.

Christopher

This was really really interesting but I don’t think it pulled it off. To spoil it; It’s about a psychiatrist going to a prison to declare that a specific prisoner is insane. You are told that the inmate is a god and that the inmates are his followers. So what basically happens is that the inmate is God, he proves this by erasing some country from ever existing. But at the very end God switches roles with the psychiatrist. He says, I will be you and walk out of here free, and you will be me, controller of everything. And he does this. But wouldn’t that mean that the psychiatrist/protagonist can do whatever the fuck he wants? Cause he’s GOD? It was cool but the end just didn’t really make sense.

AVANT QUE DE TOUT PERDRE [JUST BEFORE LOSING EVERYTHING] – 2013

Avant-que-de-tout-perdre

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras)

Elizabeth

This one was definitely one of my favorites. At first I wasn’t sure how I liked it because it sort of took me a while to get a handle on what was going on, which isn’t usually a great thing for a short film. But it’s really just because Just Before Losing Everything gets right into it, doesn’t bother with intros, just sort of has you figure it out as it happens. And because it’s about a mother trying to escape her abusive husband with their children, the way the story is told makes it all the more pressing. Léa Drucker, as the mother/wife, was really awesome and seemed so realistic in her reactions. This short is definitely worth seeing.

Christopher

I really enjoyed this short. I would say it was my second favorite. The subject, a mom/wife and her two kids are trying to escape her abusive husband, was interesting and I was invested and engaged the whole thirty minutes. I would not be upset if this won. Check this out if you get the chance!

AQUEL NO ERA YO [THAT WASN’T ME] – 2012

maxresdefault

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Esteban Crespo)

Elizabeth

Yeah, fuck this movie, too. Child soldiers, murder, rape. NO. THANKS.

Christopher

This was similar to Helium where it just felt like it was made just to be edgy. But everything that happens is obvious, it’s just scary and gross. Asad from last year took this kind of world and created a short that was far more effective.

PITÄÄKÖ MUN KAIKKI HOITAA? [DO I HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING?] – 2012

PITÄÄKÖ-MUN-KAIKKI-HOITAA

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari)

Elizabeth

Do I Have To Take Care of Everything? is sort of everything I want in a short film. It fits its length perfectly, it’s funny, it’s sweet, and fun to watch. The very opening is so funny, just seeing this couple sort of messily sleep next to each other. It reminded me of Chris and me. Out of all of the shorts, this is definitely the one that I would recommend to pretty much anyone.

Christopher

I think this was the best short. It was short. It was super funny. It made me feel good and I remembered it the most the next day. Watch this now!