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: Little Fockers

Little Fockers
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Written by: John Hamburg & Larry Stuckey (screenplay)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, and Owen Wilson

It has always been about fear for the Focker franchise.  The fear Greg (Ben Stiller) has of his father-in-law/ex-CIA agent Jack (Robert DeNiro) and vice versa.  For two films, thanks to a handful of other comic aids, that unlikely comic duo has become weirdly iconic.  Like The Godfather franchise, which this movie apparently thinks it’s worthy of spoofing since it stars DeNiro, it’s time for the unnecessary third installment.

In yet another uncomfortable moment between Jack and Greg, this time at some snooty prep school that Greg is trying to get his kids in, Jack talks about being a shepherd taking his family out to graze.  This is the central conflict of the movie, the passing of that title onto Greg and seeing if he is worthy.  Unfortunately, there is no such figure to guide either the horrendously unfunny screenplay or the large, famous ensemble cast to greener pastures.

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Five movies to watch alone

To coincide with our “Five movies to watch with a group,” post from the summer, it’s time for the foil.  Here are movies that we think you’ll get a deeper understanding from if you kick out the guests and block out the rest of the world.  While the group movies offer visceral thrills and outlandish humor, these movies use a sometimes understated, subtle way of telling the story that can’t be appreciated with a loud group of people.

There Will Be Blood- We both named Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic the best movie of the 2000s, but we’ve never watched it together.  Something primal about Anderson’s direction and Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance (also topping our best male performances list) leaps off the screen and speaks right to you.  If you’re in a crowded room, you won’t hear it as well.

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10 Memorable Movie Psychos

Instead of a “Scariest movies for Halloween” list, we decided to go with another semi-standard list for this time of year: the best psychotics.  We aren’t limiting it to horror movies: it’s an even playing field for these murderers and madmen.  Let their tricks treat for years to come.  (Entries are placed in no particular order, but feel free to name ones you would’ve picked instead.)

Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)For three movies, no matter your opinion of the sequel and prequel, Anthony Hopkins held your gaze as the calm, collected cannibal.  When you first see him, he stands raised as if he were honoring royalty entering the room, a maddening stillness and calm smirk across his face.  He always appears collected, which makes the madness behind his motives all the more chilling.

Jack Torrance (The Shining)- One of many iconic roles for Jack Nicholson and one of many masterpieces for Stanley Kubrick, this villain stands at the center of a chilling send-up of the American family.  Dad gets cabin fever and starts chasing mom and son around with an axe.  Watching this character descend into madness after seeing him semi-normal is what makes him so effective.

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REVIEW: Machete

Machete
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez & Ethan Maniquis
Written by: Robert Rodriguez & Álvaro Rodriguez
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Robert DeNiro

The official end of the Summer 2010 movie season roars by with Robert Rodriguez’s blood-splattered message movie Machete.  Originally showcased as a fake trailer at the beginning of the Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse double-feature in 2007, the cult following of this idea pushed it into production.  Now that the final product is here for everyone to see, they may scratch their heads.

For one, Rodriguez has decided to make the full film version of Machete an indictment of U.S. immigration policy.  If that doesn’t throw B-movie gore-seekers off, Robert DeNiro cheesing it up as a Texas Senator yelling “Welcome to America!” as he blasts immigrants at the border might.  You can’t help but laugh at both of these, the latter pleasantly and the former not so much.  It is this battle of the pleasant surprises duking it out with the unpleasant ones that is at the core of Machete.

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