MOVIE REVIEW: AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)

Running time: 2 hours, 18 minutes
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner
Director: David O. Russell

It’s easy to understand why American Hustle has received so much praise and Oscar buzz: The main cast shares great chemistry and they deliver strong individual performances. The whole movie is a mix of drama, comedy, madness, and horrific hair don’ts, and it’s fun to watch.

When I first heard about Hustle I assumed it would be a strict drama about ABSCAM, the FBI sting operation from the late 1970s and early 1980s that brought down several public officials. After the opening credits we saw this one title card that read:

“Some of this actually happened.”

I saw that as a warning to not take this movie too seriously, and I’m glad I didn’t. Yes, it’s hard to know what is real and what is fictional, but overall this movie is pretty solid and I enjoyed watching the actors ham it up for the camera.

American Hustle 2013 poster

Picture it.

1978. New York. Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams) are lovers and con artists, and they are eventually caught by an intense FBI agent named Richie DiMasio (Cooper). Richie enlists the duo to help him take down corrupt public officials, and the do-gooder mayor of Camden, NJ, Carmine Polito (Renner), gets caught up in the fray. And I must mention Irving’s young wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) who is drinker and a stay-at-home mom, and probably needs her own adult supervision.

Louis C.K. makes a hilarious appearance as Richie’s boss, and he’s bewildered at the nonsense that is approved to help the sting operation become a success. An uncredited Robert De Niro appears as a mob boss (what else?).

Lawrence or Cooper?

Together Bale and Adams share the most screen time, but there’s talk about Jennifer Lawrence stealing the movie. She is definitely electrifying in all of her scenes, and she does a great job of playing a young wife who is so sure of herself even when she’s dead wrong. Mixed in with the funny moments are some serious scenes where Rosalyn hurts because her husband keeps a mistress and shuts her out of all areas of his life.

Bradley Cooper in American Hustle

Ultimately I’d give the scene-stealer award to Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMasio character. He’s lively, energetic, crazed, and a little bit wackier than Rosalyn. The funniest part is that Richie doesn’t realize he’s the dumbest person in the room. He’s working with con artists to take down corrupt officials, and it never occurs to him that a con artist or a corrupt official would lie to him or give him false information.

Some of his stand-out scenes are with his boss Stoddard, played perfectly by comedian Louis C.K. Stoddard knows very well that in the blink of an eye Richie can go from an semi-obedient FBI agent to a disgruntled employee swinging a heavy telephone.

Final thoughts

I can easily see Amy Adams scoring an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She is incredibly smart, seductive, and emotional, and Adams takes us on a wild ride as her Sydney adopts different personalities as needed to help protect herself during the sting. Also, her back, legs, and breasts are frequently on display so she’s nice to look at too.

I enjoyed watching these A-list actors completely transform into their characters and the 2 hour running time seemed to fly by. American Hustle will be a good addition to anyone’s movie collection and I also recommend seeing it at the movie theater before it’s run is over.

Let me know what you thought about American Hustle. Did it live up to the hype?

Advertisements

MOVIE REVIEW: THE POKER HOUSE (2008)

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Selma Blair, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sophi Bairley
Director: Lori Petty

2008’s The Poker House was Jennifer Lawrence’s first leading role, and she nailed it. Usually I fangirl pretty hard for Jennifer but I will keep it at a minimum for this review.

The Poker House 2008

Picture it

Iowa. 1976. Agnes (Lawrence) is 14 years old with two younger sisters, Bee (Bairley) and Cammie (Moretz). Her mother Sarah (Blair) is a drugged-out hooker, and Sarah’s pimp Duval (Woodbine) invites all kinds of low-lifes to gamble and have sex in Sarah’s home.

Is there a plot? Not really.

This movie may frustrate some people who want to experience a strong plot or conflict. This movie plays out as ‘A Day in the Life of Agnes.’ Some scenes feel very lazy and insignificant, and I notice this seems to happen when the movie focuses on Cammie and Bee. Agnes kicks them out of the house repeatedly so they won’t have to see Sarah using drugs and flirting with her johns. The bulk of the dramatic scenes center around Agnes as she takes in her surroundings.

A strong trio

Jennifer Lawrence, Selma Blair, and Bokeem Woodbine all carry this movie, and I felt sadness, anger, and disbelief every time I watched them together. Duval is the ultimate creep, and his intentions throughout the movie are very clear. The horrible mother-daughter relationship between Sarah and Agnes was interesting, because in most movies the daughter will rise to the occasion and be a mother to her own mom, but in this movie we are sorely reminded that Agnes is only 14 and she is very naive about certain things.

Is it worth watching?

I found this movie on Hulu, and I’m certain Jennifer Lawrence fans will enjoy her performance. You can see how this role prepared her for Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone. 

If you watched The Poker House let me know what you thought about it!


MOVIE REVIEW: HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012)

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot
Director: Mark Tonderai

What a horrible movie.

To be fair, Jennifer Lawrence filmed this movie in 2010. That’s the same year she first won acclaim for her role as Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone, and a couple of years before the world saw her performances in X-Men: First Class, and The Hunger Games. I’ll also mention that she filmed this movie before she did Silver Linings Playbook and then won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Let’s be glad that Lawrence’s misstep happened before her Oscar win and not afterwards. Remember when Halle Berry won and then did Catwoman? Charlize Theron won and then starred in Aeon Flux…eek.

Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa in House at the End of the Street

This D-list thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa Cassidy, and Elisabeth Shue plays her mother Sarah Cassidy. After Sarah’s divorce is finalized, the duo moves into a beautiful home in an upscale, heavily wooded area. Elissa finds out something tragic happened at the house at the end of the street: four years ago, a young girl named Carrie-Ann killed her parents and then ran away. The local townsfolk believe she hid in the woods and remains there to this day. Carrie-Ann’s brother, Ryan (Thieriot), was not home at the time of the murders but he has since returned to the home and lives there alone.

Elissa is a cute girl, Ryan is a cute guy, and they start spending lots of time together. Eventually Elissa comes across clues that leads her to the true fate of Carrie-Ann, and of course Ryan isn’t as innocent as he seems. Ok, there’s your summary, and I suggest heading over to Wikipedia for the spoilers. It’ll only take 5-10 minutes and it’ll spare you having to sit through 101 minutes of this nonsense.

House at the End of the Street has zero scares, zero thrills, no ‘gotcha!’ moments, and it also has a dumb title. Really, is that the best title that anyone could come up with? And to be honest, I couldn’t tell that this house was at the end of a street. So there’s so many damn trees and branches everywhere that sometimes I couldn’t tell when the characters were standing outside of Ryan’s house or Elissa’s house.

Anyways, like I mentioned earlier there is absolutely nothing menacing or thrilling about this movie. Ryan is supposed to be creepy and brooding, but I feel like Thieriot mailed in his performance. Even Lawrence is just ‘ok’ here. The plot tries to kick into high gear during the last 25 minutes or so, but by then you’re already bored to tears and you’re just ready for it be over.

Do you see House at the End of the Street or did you finally get fed up and shut it off before the final scene?


GOOD NEWS FOR BRADLEY COOPER & JENNIFER LAWRENCE FANS

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

 

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and David O. Russell all teamed up for Silver Linings Playbook and it turned out to be a good move. All three people received Oscar nominations: Lawrence for Best Actress, Cooper for Best Actor, Russell for Best Director. You can check out my glowing review here.

According to Deadline, the threesome will team up again in a currently untitled project. It revolves around a 1970s sting operation named Abscam and it will also star Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner.

Lawrence and Cooper are also starring in the movie Serena, which follows an ambitious young couple named George (Cooper) and Serena (Lawrence) Pemberton as they try to build a timber empire in 1929. Tensions arise when Serena learns she cannot have children, and you can head over to ComingSoon.net to get more info about it.

My thoughts:

On one hand, Lawrence and Cooper work well as a team so it makes sense to keep having them in movies. On the other hand, he still looks much older than her and she looks much younger than him, and I think that’s going to lead to her being mis-cast in movies. I feel she’s playing roles that are too old for her, especially now that she’s the face of Hunger Games, which is popular among the teen and young adult set.

What are your thoughts? Should Lawrence and Cooper keep teaming up for movies? Do you think Lawrence keeps choosing roles that are too old for her? She’s 22 years old.