Continuing to play catch-up, here's my review of Oscar hopeful: American Hustle.
Based off the ABSCAM operation and set during the late 1970's and early 1980's, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a low level con artist working with his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). After both are caught in a scam by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso, (Bradley Cooper) Irving and Sydney reluctantly work for Richie to bring down various politicians including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).
Due to the complexity of the undercover operation, not all parts go smoothly. Irving's unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) complicates matters as a potential love triangle forms between Irving, Richie and Sydney. As the operation progresses, Irving and Carmine start to become friends and Richie wants the operation to grow in size in an effort to take down more and more corrupt politicians. The size of the operation begins spiral out of control and all parties involved begin to struggle to keep everything in order.
The plot is not as complex as it sounds, but it is more of a foundation for what truly makes this film entertaining: the performances. Even as I felt this was my favorite film of the year, I understand that American Hustle is not a great film. The plot falls by the wayside in favor of letting you enjoy the performances and the fun that the actors and director, David O. Russell are having.
The fun that the actors and crew are having does not take you out of the film. Instead the film brings you in and provides you with one of the best comedies of the year. Everything from the bad wigs, to bad accents and the way the characters handle the complicated scam that is presented in this film as a fun, but not overly-complicated 2 hour film. Even the title card that starts the movie, really sets the tone for how serious the film handles the ABSCAM plot that the film is based on. American Hustle tries really hard to entertain you, and based off what David O. Russell and the cast offer, I feel the film succeeds on that level.
The one weak link in the film for me, personally was Jeremy Renner. Everyone else in the film felt like they were on the same page, but with his character everything felt off and out of place and ultimately felt that Jeremy Renner was miscast as Mayor Polito. As the film progresses towards its conclusion, there is a scene where Irving and Carmine confront each other in Carmine's house. Carmine asks Irving if he is lying to him; at which time I felt bad for the character itself, but not by the performance delivered by Jeremy Renner.
I know there's been a lot of hate and backlash towards the film lately, but as just an enjoyable piece of cinema with overall good performances, it's hard to not rank American Hustle near the top of the best films list of 2013.
Shameless plug time strikes back!
I bring to you, "Writer's Block" - Version 2.
I wanted to showcase a short script that I wrote that was turned into a short film directed by Rich Keel. The script is based off a contest where a one page script was to be written within a month. My script was called "Writer's Block" and Rich Keel was kind enough to ask permission to film the script for his site off YouTube. Check out his site and the other films he has made after you've checked out the two versions Rich shot of my script.
Please enjoy and let me know what you think. Good or bad.
It's shameless plug time!
Something other than a film review, I wanted to showcase a short script that I wrote that was turned into a short film directed by Rich Keel. The script is based off a contest where a one page script was to be written within a month. My script was called "Writer's Block" and Rich Keel was kind enough to ask permission to film the script for his site off YouTube. Check out his site and the other films he has made after you've checked out the two versions Rich shot of my script.
I bring to you, "Writer's Block" - Version 1.
Please enjoy and let me know what you think. Good or bad.
Back from my long sabbatical, and what better way to bring the reviews back than with a Martin Scorcese film?
In the late 1980's, greed-obsessed stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) sets up a boiler room to sell penny stocks to unsuspecting investors. After being motivated to pursue his dream of greed by his first boss, Mark Hanna, (Matthew McConaughey) Jordan recruits Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) to set up his own firm: Stratton Oakmont. Through the ridiculous commissions he makes off each penny stock sold through his own firm, Belfort's wealth increases as exponentially as does his raging drug habit throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's.
A lot has been made about the film and its controversial subject matter including the unlimited usage of drugs and rampant sexuality. While this film does provide heavy doses of both, it also is a solidly funny dark comedy in what can best be described as, labeled online: "Scarface for douchebags".
At three hours, including credits, does the film feel longer than it needs to be? Yes. Martin Scorcese is a master storyteller, which this film continues to prove, but also, after a while, the film does become repetitive in it's showcasing of Jordan's excess. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker does edit the film to keep the pacing well maintained, but a story like this really doesn't need to have the running time that it does.
Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor who gets better as his career progresses. Though I am not sure this is his best role, my personal preference being The Departed, this is a powerful performance that only few actors could have pulled off as well as Leonardo DiCaprio does. Jonah Hill is solid, though his character seems to come and go only when the plot needs to, likewise FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) who begins snooping into Jordan's firm and the legality of it.
Lastly, Matthew McConaughey's Mark Hanna shows up early and only for a brief time. Mark takes Jordan under his wing and gives him all the information required to be a millionaire: namely a reliance on cocaine. The small role is fun and a very enjoyable cameo brought forth by Matthew McConaughey, who continues to showcase himself as an actor who is continuously getting better. See Killer Joe or look at all the accolades he is receiving for his work in Dallas Buyer's Club to understand what I mean.
Is this Martin Scorcese's best film ever? Honestly, no. There are some problems with the film: length and a somewhat unfocused story being the main culprits. Is it the best film of the year? Again, no. There are films released in 2013 that I felt were better overall. Is this Martin Scorcese still near the top of his game? Absolutely. The Wolf of Wall Street may not be the best film of the year, but it is still a very good film and should be seen by all to watch Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio fire on all cylinders.