REVIEW: American Hustle

Christian Bale;Jeremy Renner;Bradley Cooper

American Hustle
Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: Eric Singer & David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence

Two cartoonishly ’70s-looking men stand in an art gallery gazing at a Rembrandt painting, or at least what one of them thinks is a Rembrandt painting.  The other guy, a con man played by Christian Bale, explains with his thick Brooklyn accent that it’s a fake.

“The guy who made this was so good, that it’s real to everybody.  Now, who’s the master: the painter or the forger?” he asks.

It’s as if director David O. Russell is speaking through Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) at this moment, pondering the question a little too sincerely.  American Hustle, his sleek and contagiously energetic latest endeavor, is also somewhat of a forgery. It’s being released nationwide the week before The Wolf of Wall Street, and I’m curious to see which one is more widely praised, the original Scorsese or this loving knockoff.

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REVIEW: Blue Jasmine

Comedy-or-Drama

Blue Jasmine
Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale and Alec Baldwin

Two sisters; one a blonde suffering from crippling depression and the other a brunette with a fatigued understanding of how to help her.  That’s the premise of Woody Allen’s latest, a bruising and mostly unsparing look at a woman who hides serious problems behind bourgeois privilege.

From that description alone, it should be fairly easy to tell just how heavily Blue Jasmine draws from 2011’s Melancholia, which is for me one of the defining films of this decade so far.  It’s clear in both films that the protagonists are surrogates of their respective directors, but Allen doesn’t have the film’s world mirror his protagonist or create a distinct editing rhythm that conveys her depression.  His movie rests on the more than capable shoulders of Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins, who deliver two distinct but masterful performances here.

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