Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Conversation: "American Hustle"

In an effort to switch up the format a little, I proposed that Matt and we have a conversation about American Hustle and how we felt about it and the performances.  Before we get into what we thought though, let's give you a little background on the players.

The film is directed by David O Russel (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter) who is also co-writer of the script with Eric Warren Singer (The International, ├ćon Flux tv series) the plot of which is loosely based on the ABSCAM controversy of the late 70's.  With that in mind, the film doesn't actually follow much of the actual facts and changes the names of the characters, as well as their involvement to make the situation appear more ambiguous.  The plot revolves around two lifelong con artists-- Christian Bale and Amy Adams-- who get caught by the FBI and are forced to help agent Bradley Cooper run a con.

What follows INCLUDES SPOILERS so be warned.

Siobhan: So, now that we have wine: American Hustle.

Matt: It was too long.

S: Oh my god yes!  That thing with Wolf of Wallstreet that you were talking about-- with it needing to tighten up a little-- oh my god they needed to tighten this up.

M: I loved Jennifer Lawrence though, she's really good in it.  I wished she had a larger role.

S: Agreed, but I also think that she was playing a little bit of her character from Silver Linings Playbook.  It was a little Tiffany, if Tiffany was a fancy Jersey housewife.

M: Like meets Sharon Stone in Casino?

S: Exactly.


S: I don't know, I mean it was funny, but I also didn't really get the relationship between [Lawrence] and Christian Bale.  He was clearly enamored of her but I didn't see her liking him at all, she was just sort of playing him a little bit.  I mean, maybe that was the point--

M:  I felt like she was playing him and all she wanted was the stable money.  She didn't care if he was there.  She didn't love him, she loved not being a single mother.

S: Which is why when she gets upset with Amy Adams midway through, she goes and cries on someone else's shoulder immediately.

M: Um, Amy Adams, and her outfits--

S: Sideboob!

M: Everywhere.

S: It was its own character.

M: It was, like Christian Bale's hair.

S: Yeah, they did a very good job of characterization through set design and costumes but I thought the direction was very lacking and the plot was virtually non-existent.

M: See what I didn't appreciate was at the end where they have this big reveal, I felt like that was just bullshit.  The idea that he had planned this whole thing from the very beginning, that everything they did was on purpose and that they got the guy from the beginning involved? I felt like that was too unrealistic.  They didn't do enough in the story--

S: --to set that up.  Yeah I agree.  It's like the thing with the dry cleaning rack?  Where Bale and Adams are standing in the dry cleaning rack--

M: --I DID NOT understand why that was necessary.

S:  Yes!  The rack thing didn't fit, and having him go back there later felt like an afterthought meant to try to feign cohesion.

M: I felt like the female characters were better.  The male characters, I felt, didn't quite know they're role in the whole picture.

S: Yeah, to the point that it almost felt to me like the casting was off.  Christian Bale is a good character actor so why bother writing a character cause he'll just make one of his own.  But then he had no agency beyond being a criminal for the sake of it?  I mean the guy has legit businesses.  At least with Amy Adams character I bought that she was in love with Christian Bale and I mean the two of them together made sense.

M: Everyone in Hollywood seems in love with David O Russel.

S: Has it been nominated for best picture at all?

M: It has.

S: Oh god.  There have been nominations for the actors right?  Which is a little bit Iron Lady?  I mean terrible movie, good performances?

M: But it's a much better movie than The Iron Lady.

S:  Well yeah the movie's better but not good.  Like I wouldn't say that this was a good movie.

M: No.

S: And it's rating so high!  It has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes right now.

M: That's the David O Russel effect though.  Did he do The Fighter?

S: He did The Fighter.

M: See, I hated The Fighter.

S: I was okay with The Fighter but again, I feel like plot is sometimes lacking for [Russell].

M: Silver Linings Playbook--

S: --was based on a novel, which is why it worked.

M: Yes. But there are actors that say they'll never work with him.

S: Really?

M: Yes.  I mean, he did Three Kings, right?

S: Yup.

M: Well, there are people like George Clooney who say they'll never work with him again.

S: Oh wow, I didn't know that.  I guess the moral is that overall I didn't really love the movie, I think.

M: I did enjoy it but I do wish it was a lot shorter.

S: Oh, and Bradley Cooper was just a disaster.

M: I don't have a lot of faith in him as an actor. Every time he gets nominated for something, I don't really get it.  Like I didn't love him in Silver Linings.

S: Was he nominated for that?

M: I feel like he was. [In fact he was].

S: I mean he was fine in Silver Linings, he played the part fine but he was really just there for her.

M: And they're saying that it could get nominated for all four acting awards.

S: This one? [i.e. American Hustle]

M: Yeah.

S: It just seems like a lot of hype to me though, I was disappointed.  It felt like it needed some edits.

M: Which is the exact problem with the Wolf of Wallstreet.

S: It just needs to be tightened up?

M: Yes.  This one is just a little bit bloated.

S: Yes, it's Christian Bale's character incarnate.  The film just ate a little bit too much dialogue.  That's too bad.

M:  It did look good though, like it was filmed well.  The cinematography was very well carried off.

S: Yes, it's true.  It definitely felt like how I expect the 70's felt.  Cause I'd know about that.

M: Right.

S: On another note I think Louis C.K. might have been my favourite part of the film.  Him as the straight man to everyone else's craziness was very good.

M: That's why he did so well on Parks and Recreation.  He played the bumbling cop that wanted to date Amy Poehler and she's the wild one of the two.  He's there playing straight to her.  It was very good.

S: I'm going to have to go back and watch that.  Oscars will be interesting this year.  I mean there's been a lot of good stuff but it feels like a lot of noise to me too.

M: They say this has been one of the best years for film in recent memory.

S: Really?  Wow.  Well, we know that I'm suffering from fatigue but I guess I have to sift through all the noise and get down to the good stuff at the bottom.

M: Well there are some things worth seeing.

S: Hmm....American Hustle is one of them, but just barely.

M: Yes.  I would agree.


So overall we didn't love the movie as much as it seems most other people did but it's definitely worth seeing if only so you can tell us we're wrong.  In reviewing the conversation, the one thing we didn't talk about was Jeremy Renner's TERRIBLE hair.  It was terrible.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. You're crazy for how quickly you made this happen. Such a clever idea. Even if we have been discussing the idea for over two years!