Midweek Geekiness: Doing the (American) Hustle

Last week my friend R and I went to see American Hustle.  It’s my second time seeing the film.  I know, a film without superheroes, aliens, or other fantastical beings getting seen yet again.  Although many people have described the film in superhero-type terms.  My favourite states:

It’s a film about Batman and Lois Lane pulling a con on Hawkeye and that guy from The Hang Over.

Let’s rewind for a bit…

In the spring of last year, I signed up for a Tumblr account as a place to lurk for information.  This illustrates the best example of ‘be careful what you wish for’.  I just wanted to know what movie Jeremy Renner will do next.  I heard about this film based on the ABSCAM scandal originally called ‘American Bullshit’.  I saw David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and Three Kings in the past.  In the case of American Hustle nothing prepared me, or anyone, for what came out of the set.

Things like this:

That’s all his own hair folks!

this:

Partially shaved head, few extra pounds…vintage Bale

and this:

(Should I write a caption for Mr. Sexist Man Alive? Nah, didn’t think so.)

I am not bothering with Amy Adams costumes.  How many times has a woman been deconstructed for what she wears, how she wears it, and what hangs out of what she wears.  No, this time I put the guys front and centre.

Thanks to the power of Tumblr, I followed the filming.  What I saw on the screen felt a little jumbled plot wise. The movie seems to want to be a con movie, but the story does not lend itself to it.  In the middle of the film, the plot veers off into the triangle/quadrangle between Irving Rosenfeld (Bale)/Sydney Prosser (Adams)/Richie Dimasio (Cooper)/Roslyn (Jennifer Laurence). The film talks about seeing what we want to see, with each character trying to shape their reality to their own vision.  We have the FBI agent wanting to hit big, the cons simply setting up their scores, a housewife hanging on to a dead marriage while a mayor simply wants to ignite a better economy for the people of Camden.

If this post seems a little jumbled imagine watching the film. The keep saying to people, “It’s not a bad film, but it’s not a great film.”  As an actor’s showcase it’s a fun film to watch.  Nearly everyone does play a character different from what they played before.  Renner plays a likeable character trying to do the right thing.  Polito makes a dumb choice, but he did it believing he could help the people of Camden.  I say ‘nearly’ since Bradley Cooper seems to play a childish version of the character he played in Wedding Crashers.  I guess the jury is still out about Ritchie Dimasio and Bradley Cooper, regardless of any magazine-bestowed titles. (Then again I am biased in favour of Jeremy Renner.)

I joked with a friend of mine this film needed 3D for the hair styles along.  However, part of the appeal lies in not needing too many special effects or 3D.  In a way American Hustle reminds me of the films made in the 70’s.  Studios seem so busy trying to appeal to EVERYONE, sometimes adults just want to watch ‘adult’ stories.  I want a complicated plot, multiple points of view, and not feel like someone needed to check all the marketing boxes.  I find myself, with a few exceptions, looking forward to the fall/Christmas movie season. Every so often I want to watch a film like this one, to take a break from the comic book world.  People also need to remember these actors every so often need a break from that world and do something like this movie.  Not your cup of tea?  Fine.  Filming for Avengers 2 starts in March and Jeremy Renner has his ‘Hawkeye’ hair back.  Enjoy the film, and its actors, for what it is no matter how many awards hauled over the course of the season.

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