Review: American Hustle

Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.
Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.

John Connor’s Big Con
Rating: ***

A running joke in my movie group was that Christian Bale, who plays a con man in American Hustle is in fact a Connor – John Connor of Terminator: Salvation. In David O. Russell’s new film set in the late 70s, Bale plays Irving Rosenfield, an old school con artist who has found success, but is still thirsty for more.

This brings us to Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who joins Rosenfield’s con gang as Lady Edith Greensley, a fake British aristocrat. Adams has had her fair share of memorable performances but American Hustle (much like David O. Russell’s earlier film, The Fighter) travels to a land far away from her girl-next-door image. Here in American Hustle, she is the pot of gold – the reward everyone wants.

Justifiably, she buries herself underneath low-cut gowns and really (and I mean really) high heels. With all that glitz and makeup, one may wonder whether Adams was going to a Farrah Fawcett party and took the wrong bus.

Rosenfield’s guilt trip begins with Mayor Carmine Polito, a legit man, living a decent life, who is sweet talked into taking a bribe. Jeremy Renner is a fine candidate for the role of Mayor Polito. With two Oscar nominated roles in his kitty, this is cake walk for Renner.

The problem with American Hustle begins with Richie DiMasso, a young FBI agent (played by Bradley Cooper) who wants to be famous for pulling off the biggest intelligence operation ever. There are a couple of scenes that provide us little information on the life and times of DiMasso, which of course could have been avoided.

Much like Argo, American Hustle tries to become a personal battle than a political thriller. The success of ABSCAM isn’t the real deal, Rosenfield’s survival is.

He’s a con artist, and he helps FBI pull off a scam. But, what makes Rosenfield a common man is his estranged, neurotic wife (played by Jennifer Lawrence). She explains in one scene “you can’t divorce me because you fear I’ll talk about your illegal activities.”

That’s right, Rosenfield. You’re whipped for life!

American Hustle is a star-studded seventies crime comedy that bears plenty of resemblance to the Martin Scorsese mafia classic Goodfellas. There are the voiceovers (one each for Bale, Adams and Cooper), the constant usage of classic rock and jazz music, and of course Robert De Niro as a mafioso.

American Hustle is an old-fashioned, unapologetic, commercial cocktail prepared in Russell’s trademark style. It’s clever, funny and sometimes over the top. But, that’s the joie de vivre in watching a David O. Russell film.


2012 – The Best of Hollywood

The following is my list of the best movies that released in 2012.

Ben Affleck in Argo.
Ben Affleck in Argo.

Argo – Arguably the best film of the year, Argo is a nail-biting film that adds a good amount of fiction to the Canadian Caper, a CIA mission to rescue six US consulate workers from Tehran. As an entertainer, Argo is no surprise as Ben Affleck is well-known for directing two other edgy films – Gone Baby Gone and The Town.

Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker in Silver Linings Playbook.
Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker in Silver Linings Playbook.

Silver Linings Playbook – This comedy-drama is about a bi-polar man trying to fit back into the world he wrecked. Featuring several prominent actors such as Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker and India’s own Anupam Kher, Silver Linings Playbook hurls a grenade filled with emotions with well-scripted scenes and finely acted characters.

The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises – A fitting sequel to  The Dark Knight and a marvelous adieu to Nolan’s vision, The Dark Knight Rises has all the ingredients to be one of the best superhero films of all time.

Daniel Craig's James Bond and Sean Connery's Aston Martin in Skyfall.
Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Sean Connery’s Aston Martin in Skyfall.

Skyfall – 50 is just a number, and the aging James Bond proves it in Skyfall. A smartly written, old school Bond film, Skyfall left out several key ingredients, but compensated with a Bond and M we have never seen or heard of.

L-R: Ezra Kramer, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
L-R: Ezra Kramer, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – A bravado if any, The Perks of Being a Wallflower infuses comedy and drama with childhood trauma, and dishes out a fine coming-of-age story for today’s youngsters.

Denzel Washington in Flight.
Denzel Washington in Flight.

Flight – As an alcoholic, drug-addled pilot, Denzel Washington plays the badass character of the year, I’ve wanted to see. From flying a plan upside-down to stealthily mixing drinks on a no-alcohol flight, Washington makes it easy for the Academy if they were wondering on who should take the Best Actor Oscar. With a whirlwind first hour and a tense second hour, Flight is Robert Zemeckis’ comeback to making hardcore cinema.

L-R: Billy Murray, Frances McDormand, Eddie Norton and Bruce Willis in Moonrise Kingdom
L-R: Billy Murray, Frances McDormand, Eddie Norton and Bruce Willis in Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom – Set in 1965, this smart comedy drama revolves around two teenagers who elope. The starry cast includes Billy Murray, Frances McDormand, Eddie Norton and an enigmatic Bruce Willis.

Review: Terminator Salvation


Return Of The Future And T800s

Terminator Salvation (PG-13)

Director: McG

Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington.

Rating: ***

Furious action from the first frame to the last. You can’t find a second to let your eyes rest. That’s McG’s Terminator Salvation. The film is amazingly believable. It makes sense to the first film. We really are happy to see Dark Knight fight without a mask. Undergoing a rapid changeover, the film is not your usual time travel and hunt for the Connors. It is set in the future and depicts the war between Skynet and humanity. The film offers you a leg up on how the first film was formed. That’s an amazing thing to notice. Secondly, all events of the first film happen with a reason.

If there was Shoot ‘Em Up which had Clive Owen shooting men here and there, we have Terminator Salvation where Christian Bale shoots the machines here and there. Accompanied by heavy animation, the film seems to be yet another big task for Industry Lights & Magic.

The film is full of action as I said and it moves in an amazing speed. But, McG does give way to those regular speed bumps. Terminator Salvation also has a fresh cast. Christian Bale is John Connor, Bryce Dallas Howard plays Kate Connor and Anton Yelchin plays a teenage Kyle Reese. Thus, McG’s new cocktail seems to be full of energy.

Helen Bonham Carter’s cameo in the beginning is a better laid one. Bryce Dallas Howard replaces Claire Danes in this film as Kate Connor. Ms. Howard must know that Claire Danes’ Kate Connor was blonde and not redhead. Moon Bloodgood’s tomboyish Blair Williams is yet another waste in Terminator Salvation.

The story opens with a death row inmate, Marcus Wright offering his body to a medical research following his execution by lethal injection. The film moves onto to 2018 where John Connor is leading the resistance in a raid against Skynet. At the same time, Marcus Wright returns to life and finds the world to be new. He then joins Kyle Reese as they head to the Resistance HQ. Marcus’ allies change one by one as he reaches John Connor. Twists and turns lead to new paths and cause more jeopardy.

Sam Worthington’s metallic acting and Christian Bale’s stainless steel looks make them think that they’re soldiers of the Salvation Army but definitely cannot be accepted as an actor. Bale’s grunts are a little irritating though.

Terminator Salvation has an amazing screenplay. The plot points are remarkable ones. The BGM by Danny Elfman is another boon to the film. The dark beats are certainly the best of his scores following his soothing tunes in Milk. McG has pulled off a remarkable performance and has noted the depth of each Terminator film.

Terminator Salvation is certainly THE movie for the fans. It’s got Bale, Worthington and others. It’s got McG leading them all. It’s got a hell load of graphics to keep your eyes moving. It is worth a watch.