Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


The cast of American Hustle
AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013). Director: David O. Russell.

"Sometimes all you have in life are fucked-up, poisonous choices."

Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a married con artist/loan shark with a really elaborate comb-over who works with his lover, Sydney (Amy Adams), in conning desperate and larcenous people out of their money. They get caught by arrogant, ambitious agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), who tells them they can stay out of jail if they help him in a sting operation. The target for entrapment is Atlantic City mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner of Mission Impossible -- Ghost Protocol), who needs money to bring gambling to AC [this takes place in the late seventies]. When Polito begins making deals with gambling experts who happen to be mobsters, such as Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), Richie, who begins an affair with Sydney, figures he can bring down even bigger fish than Polito. Realizing they are the ones the gangsters will go after when the whole thing blows up, Irving and Sydney come up with a secret counter-scheme, but will Irving's jealous wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), cause more problems than they can handle? American Hustle is an okay movie with some clever moments and a fairly satisfying ending, but it's incredible that it won an Oscar as Best Picture -- all four lead actors won Oscars as well --  proving that studio backing and aggressiveness can and often is more responsible for the garnering of awards than genuine quality. The acting is okay [but never outstanding] for the most part -- one could single out Bale [American Psycho] for his character role -- but the cast members all seem to be exuding personality in a naturalistic manner rather than acting [a common occurrence in modern-day movies]. Also the movie is played as a black comedy, which is also typical of many new movies, and has not a single likable character. It also has senseless scenes, such as a girl-on-girl kiss between wife and startled mistress in a ladies room, that seem thrown in for titillation and nothing else. American Hustle also tells an 80 minute story in two and a half hours! It in no way compares to great con man/film noir classics of the past such as Too Late for Tears/Killer Bait.

Verdict: This isn't terrible, but a masterpiece with truly great acting it is not. **1/2.

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