American Hustle (2013)

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It’s been quite a while since a film’s come along and moseyed its way on in to the lore of cinema. You know, the type of film you can watch over and over again…that plays on TV every other weekend. A film you’ve seen so many times over you can catch it midway, watch till the end, and still enjoy each and every part. A movie that plays in the background of gatherings, parties, or while you’re performing other tasks without taking away from these other primary distractions. These are the flicks we quote day in, day out to no end. Now, these pictures may not always the best of what cinema has to offer, they might not have even garnered many awards or much critical acclaim, but still we love them more than most things we’d care to admit.

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On the other hand however, these timeless movies do pertain to our greatest cinematic achievements and have been acknowledged as such by critics and cinephiles. And of course the odd award or two has been bestowed upon them. Nonetheless, what’s so special, enduring about these films is that they’re so appealing and appeasing. They’re fun, entertaining, and most importantly, they never seem to get old. “American Hustle” fits somewhere in this criteria, I’m just not quite sure where exactly. It’ll win its fair share of accolades come award season 2014, it’s endlessly entertaining, and full of quote-able dialogue. Wherever it finds itself, expect this flick to be on television in the near future and in your hearts after the initial viewing.

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Directed by the aforementioned David O. Russell, “American Hustle,” is the much anticipated follow-up to his Best Picture nominee “Silver Linings Playbook.” Glamorizing the lives of a couple of con-artists and corrupt politicians until they are dealt a harsh reality check by a power-hungry detective. I think it’s safe to say O. Russell went in a completely new direction with this one. Using a magnificent soundtrack, the trademark styles and imagery of the late 70s and early 80s, and extremely potent, masterful performances from his entire ensemble to conjure up a mafioso-like thriller with moments of overwhelming drama and an array of diverse comedy. O. Russell has truly created a unique cinematic experience with “American Hustle.” Although, it is one that feels vaguely familiar, even Scorsese-esque. Yet, it remains so original and genuine that Marty himself would be proud.

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There is so much that makes O. Russell’s “American Hustle” this instant classic, a modern masterpiece. The first thing to hit you is this obscure, dated, penetrative humour executed flawlessly by the film’s cast. Speaking of which, has an undeniable, limitless chemistry that bursts forth from the screen and roots in their bones. It’s this bizarre, surprising nature that spawns so many instances in which you’ll find yourself asking, was that just said? Did that just happen? It’s content and characters are fresh and honest, the “what you see is what you get” type that refrains from being bland and predictable. O. Russell’s camerawork is the most stellar I’ve seen in recent memory, reminiscent of the aforementioned Scorsese, albeit younger. It’s a concoction of all these facets mixed with impeccable timing, immense, boundless talent, and extraordinary vision by all involved that makes “American Hustle” shine so bright.

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Fine, you got me, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The story definitely takes a bit of a backseat to the characters, which isn’t necessarily a big deal. That being said, with “American Hustle,” the stakes don’t ever appear or feel as high as they actually are, or at least should be. I mean, I never really feared that the lifestyle or the lives of those who’ve been chosen to lead us through this picture were ever compromised. They just never seemed to be in as much danger or trouble as they should have been, if that makes any sense? It’s plot is as captivating, enthralling as can be and the characters are some of the most well-written and developed of the year. The end however, the last thirty minutes give or take, is a tad anticlimactic. That being said, the fact that the film’s ensemble and spectacular, utter enchantment can overcome this slight blemish should speak to its almost fully realized immaculacy.

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The cast, the ensemble, that’s all I keep blabbering on about. I supposed it’d make sense to inform you of who comprises this plethora of talent and achievements. Returning are O. Russell vets Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, with new faces Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner rounding out the unit. Now, I could go on and on about the superlativeness of each and every member and how it wouldn’t surprise me at all if each individual got a nomination come award season, but I’m a realist. If I had to stake my life, I’d say Christian Bale is the front-runner to take home some hardware. The rest, I feel are too up in the air. There’s been a surplus of solid flicks with tremendous portrayal this year, so it’ll be tough to break through. Cooper, Adams, and Lawrence bring their predictable flair and still manage to stun. Renner is the only one who comes close to rivalling Bale’s brilliance and already his outstanding performance is being overlooked. Oddly enough however, is that funny man Louis C. K somehow steals every scene he’s in. Figure that one out and let me know.

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Hilarious, intoxicating, and bloody brilliant, “American Hustle” is, without question, one of the best films of the year.

American Hustle: 9.5 out of 10.

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on January 2, 2014, in Comedy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. Just saw this. It’s pretty fantastic, and I totally agree with your review. Amy Adams was sooooo good.

  2. I am going to see this when it hits VOD – can’t wait! Nice work!

  3. A ton of high praise for this one. Solid review through and through. I’m not a huge David O. Russell fan but he sure does put great casts together!

  4. I really like this, too. I don’t like the voice over, but I really like the movie. Falls just short of my Current Top Ten.

    Great review, observing the awesomeness of the cast, amongst the movies other (many) strengths!

  5. Another fine piece of work here Joseph. I’m developing a real liking to your writing style. Particularly, you’re opening paragraph’s.

    I haven’t seen this yet, but you lay out, perfectly, what makes this film so good. There’s an enthusiasm that’s infectious and then suddenly I read what let’s the film down. I’m not complaining, though. It’s these type of critiques that sound more believable. I want to see this and I really want to like it. I’m sure I will, and I admire such honest reviews.

    • Wow, thank you so much Mark! It means a lot, I can’t express that enough :). I’m sure you’ll love this film. Bale and the entire cast is magnificent, even if the story does let them down a bit. Again, thank you so much! I thought I was getting too personal with my reviews as of late, but felt it’s my site and I should post my honesty.

  6. Another well written review here. I’m eagerly anticipating this one, the cast is incredibly appealing. Bale is an actor that you can always count on.

  7. I saw this today and loved it!

  8. Good review Joseph. No doubt that it’s a messy movie, but the cast is so much fun to watch, you can’t help but forget about all of the problems and just enjoy the hell out of the ride while it’s happening.

  9. I’ve been meaning to catch this one since it opened but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Really excited by the cast but I’m tired of the theater experience. Great review as always.

  10. Wow! A very favorable review. I have yet to put up a review for this one (and who knows when I’ll finallty get around to it), but I actually didn’t like this one as much as I expected. The acting was phenomenal, but I just wasn’t thrilled with the story and I didn’t find the characters very likeable. Nonetheless, an excellent review, per usual. 🙂

    • Thanks Cara!! What?! Really? You didn’t enjoy this one as much as me? How dare you? No, I’m just kidding ;). To each their own. Totally understand the lapse in story and unfavourable characters, I just thought it was to damn entertaining and well performed by cast and crew to dwell on the minor imperfections.

      • Oh noooo! Don’t unfollow me, Joseph!!! Hahaha. Really, I do think all four of the main actors deserve Oscar noms–especially Lawrence and Bale–but even that wasn’t enough to make me totally love the film. I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t care if I see it again. You can just ignore my review when it comes out. Whatever must be done to preserve the friendship. 😉

      • LOL, I think out friendship can withstand even the most heated of debates and our occasional disagreements :). Totally agree about the Oscar noms, if Bale doesn’t win, I’ll be shocked, best performance of the year, in my opinion.

  11. I’ve read some positive reviews but after reading this I really want to see this in the theatres and not wait till it’s on TV/home video. That’s quite the pot belly on Bale! 🙂

  12. Excellent write up! LOVE the way you lay things out! I think I may watch this this weekend, I keep hearing grand things about it, and it has a really good cast, that can only just help it all out!

  13. Superb review mate. Hoping to see this at the weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. Fantastic cast which is enough to make me want to go and see it.

  14. Damn – guess I should see this, then? 🙂 Nice review!

  15. Another great review Joseph! I’m really looking forward to seeing this, I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.

  16. Very much looking forward to finally catching up with this at the weekend. Excellent stuff buddy.

  17. Nice review, Joe. Here’s my most anticipated film of the year and one I hope won’t disappoint. It opens on Jan 17th in these parts.

  18. Not a big fan of Russell’s but this review may turn the tide for me. Great write up! That first paragraph had me hooked, man!

    • Really? That’s intriguing, how come you’re not a fan? Regardless, this film really isn’t anything like his previous work :). It really is something you should see!

      • Maybe not being a fan is a bit harsh. It’s perhaps that he’s made some movies I have little to no interest in watching.

        I did enjoy Three Kings and I know I need to watch The Fighter because that looks really good but have never gotten around to it.

        As for “Hustle,” I am really stoked for it, now. So, maybe, I will become that “fan.” Once again, great job on the review!

      • Fair enough. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy American Hustle, it’s near impossible not to be entertained :).

  19. I really liked this too. The acting was just astonishing. Been a while since I saw a film with so much chemistry. Cool review.

  20. Yeeesh…. the only thing I like about this movie is your review of it, because you’re awesome. But this movie, unfortunately, is so not awesome. Ugggh, it was like pulling teeth for me to get to the end of it. I hated all of the characters, I hated the plot, and I especially hated Amy Adams in it. She is super duper annoying. I’m just a big bad hater today, I guess! lol. But I’m glad you liked it.

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Films of 2013: | The Cinema Monster

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