DAY 6 – American Hustle A.K.A. The Return of Roll Face

by 12daysofmovies

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Oh my goodness! The 12 Days of Movies are halfway over! Oh, how does the time fly. 

Oh, look who’s back. It’s Jennifer Lawrence. How good to see you again. Your cheeks are looking marvelous, I must say, round and shiny as always, as if freshly basted by a heavenly baker with a fluffy white mustache. I see you’re not wearing a bra. Thanks for that. Oh you’re doing a bad New York accent? Good, good. 

Great.

In David O. Russell’s latest reshuffling of the actors he always uses, we have a fat Christian Bale and a braless Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence doing some mean stuff to an in-form Bradley Cooper (maniacal, wide-eyed, hair full of tiny curlers?). It’s the 70’s. Everyone has accents on top of accents. For some reason Amy Adams’ character is from New Mexico but has a bad New York accent that is then half the time covered up with a bad (on purpose) English accent. It’s all very weird, I wish they had all gotten fat for their roles so at least we would have something to talk about. 

This movie, for whatever reason, failed to be interesting. It has all the elements one would want: the A-list actor with a huge shift in body weight, period appropriate soundtrack, a love triangle, J-Law’s befuddling facial features, Amy Adams in very revealing outfits, Robert DeNiro speaking Arabic (a classic cinematic STAPLE), but it was just…boring. 

I’ve heard it said that, in narrative drama, when death is in the room, things become a little bit more…fascinating. But death never walked in the room in this movie. Death was never even on the same block. 

In the only situation where any of the characters were in any real danger, the scene takes place away from the action, and then the danger is related via flashback. The whole movie seems like an explanation, or an apology perhaps, for the words that appear on screen when it begins: “Some of these things actually happened” (or something like that). I guess the audience is supposed to be shocked or amazed, but, really? Some things happen in New Jersey with a con man and the FBI and we’re supposed to care? It felt like Russell and crew were just taking pieces of some true story and trying to turn it into a movie without getting too Hollywood with it. 

Final Notes:

1) I spent the entirety of this movie waiting for it to get to the point. The point was that only Christian Bale can pull off doing accents that he doesn’t actually possess in real life.

2) Whatever happened to the I Heart Huckabees David O. Russell? You know, the director that made weird movies with Jon Brion soundtracks and had Mark Wahlberg riding a bicycle and competing philosophical frameworks and, you know, fun?

3) Louis C.K. appears as an exasperated FBI middle management type, and his performance was entertaining, for me. In his first scene, it seemed like Louis could barely keep from laughing out loud, even though he wasn’t saying anything funny. But, as the movie went on, he learned to keep it together and actually brought real, empathetic life to his character. 

4) Due to a lack of reading materials available to me at the moment, I ended up reading the entire third book of the Hunger Games trilogy after seeing the movies (there are two copies in this house for some reason). I gotta say, I enjoyed some of the action sequences, but the writing was really uneven, and it felt rushed. It seemed like Suzanne Collins was racing to meet Scholastic’s deadline for the book the entire time, it had a really “this happened then THIS happened and then, would you look at that, this is happening right now!” And then of course there were like 8 instances of book J-law saying something like, “and then I went crazy, so I guess they had to sedate me again.” And then I went crazy? And then I went crazy?! This is how bestsellers are written?? Also, it was jarring to be cooped up in Katniss Everdeen’s stilted first-person perspective for the entire story. I think (this will be controversial) that the story lends itself better to the film medium, where we can shift focal characters occasionally and look at actors doing things instead of reading this featureless prose. 

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