On the second (extra) day of Christmas Catch Up

So, last night I saw "American Hustle."  I tried very hard to simply enjoy the film, but the amount of pressure and expectation that both I and others had placed on it began to weight the film for me.  Bouncing around in my head were thoughts like, "Is it better than "The Fighter" (a film that I hated." "Is it as good as "Silver Linings Playbook?" (a film I loved...as well as many others...but hated by a very persistent few)"  Eventually I was able to settle into the incredible performances.  I was only minimally impressed by Christian Bale in his Oscar winning "The Fighter," enjoying him much more in films like "American Psycho" and "The Dark Knight."  But here he gives such a complicated performance.  In the first shots of the film we are given the gimmick...straight away.  Fat belly, comb over, big awkward glasses.  And then we are allowed to enjoy the character he created.

There has been a bit of talk about Jennifer Lawrence having a shot at winning a second Oscar for this turn.  She is electric in this film...but the problems I have with her performance are the same ones I have with the film.  It's almost like O Russell, at times splices takes together that don't exactly match.  This might have worked for directors like Peter Berg with "Friday Night Lights" where a sense of utter realism was the goal, but here it is jarring.  Perhaps it is on purpose, and at times it really works...a scene in the bathroom with Adams might actually get Lawrence that win...the Academy has never needed more than a scene to award someone.  But mostly, for me it left me wanting every time she was on screen.  Then again...maybe that's exactly what O Russell was going for.

That all being said Amy Adams is a revelation.  I have always been a huge fan of hers, but this performance is simply remarkable.  Juggling two accents...sometimes in the same sentence she manages to take the frenetic feel of "Hustle" and harness it.   Her character always seems to be straddling that border where control gives way to free fall, but it never happens...although she comes very close after Richie...FBI agent played by Bradley Cooper (quite good here as well) puts her in jail early on in the film, and also when she is faced with her jealousy over Irving's (Bale) wife, right before the bathroom confrontation I mentioned earlier.

Anyway...bottom line on "Hustle:" I guess I need to see it again.  Although I seriously don't think that is going to be possible before I leave for Mississippi next Wednesday.  I am already seeing "Saving Mr. Banks" tonight.  "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" tomorrow night and "Wolf of Wall Street" on Thursday.  Since Thursday is my day off it will probably be packed with movie watching.  With AFI's top 10 list which was announced yesterday it is pretty clear the films that I need to see before being able to truly understand the Best Picture category.

First, here is the list:


After Thursday I will only be missing "Captain Phillips," "Nebraska" and "Her."  I'm supposed to see "Her" on Sunday but I don't think I am going to be able to squeeze it in with work and "Gloria."

I also decided to add "Only God Forgives" to my list.   I know it was pretty much reviled, but I loved "Drive" so much that I feel as if I must.  So, here is the current list.

American Hustle
Saving Mr Banks
Dallas Buyers Club
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Short Term 12
Captain Phillips
Blue is the Warmest Color
Pacific Rim
The Wind Rises
20 Feet From Stardom
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Armstrong Lie
Ernest and Celestine
A Letter to Momo
Crystal Fairy
Upstream Color
Go For Sisters
Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Only God Forgives


  1. it's one of those films that is very middle of the road for me. it was fun and wildly entertaining, but i think there's very little substance here. amy adams validates the film, but i think her accent wavers a bit as well. i think i liked all the actors equally.

  2. I saw "Only God Forgives" for the same reason. After all, "Drive" was my #2 film of that year. Maybe that's why I was so disappointed in it. But you and I sometimes have huge differences in opinion on film...


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