American Hustle (2013): You Can’t Con a Conman

American Hustle (2013), the newest film by one of the hottest working filmmakers today, David O. Russell, has been receiving a lot of hype lately.  Golden Globe noms abound, which will certainly lead to numerous Oscar nominations.  It is a critics’ darling right now, but surprisingly enough the Average Joe American is enamored as well.  Based on all of those accreditations, I felt I needed to see it.  Besides, with Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Robert DeNiro, and Jennifer Lawrence acting in it, I knew I’d at least fall in love with the acting chops.  To no one’s surprise, I fell in love with the entire film.

The movie tells the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), a New Jersey con man, and his partner both in crime and the bedroom, Sidney Prosser (Adams).  After a successful string of cons, the Feds catch win and hold both for questioning in 1978.  Richie DiMaso (Cooper) cuts a deal with them, promising them no jail time if they assist in the capture of four white collar criminals.  DiMaso continues to set his sights higher and higher, as he is ambitious and wants to nab some dirty politicians.  They set their sights on Mayor Carmine Polito (Renner), a good natured and well-loved New Jersey Mayor with a large family and even bigger heart.  He has always been clean on the books, but faced with the prospect of taking money from a wealthy Sheik to be used for the renewal of Atlantic City’s casinos, he is forced to rethink his clean-only dealings.  As the plot thickens and very slimey creatures are added to the mix, Irving and Prosser begin to panic and must con their way out of another situation.  They develop the perfect plan, and the only thing that can ruin it is Irving’s crazy wife Rosalyn (Lawrence).

I give this film a rare A+.  I honestly could find nothing wrong with it.  It is full of intrigue and life, with a touch of action and violence, some politics, a healthy dose of drama, and a surprising amount of subtle humor.  It’s a gem.  The acting was perfection, and it was refreshing to see all the actors outside of their normal comfort zone (assuming there is anything outside of Christian Bale’s comfort zone…).  If you haven’t seen it yet, go!

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The New Manbat

The interwebs are currently aflame regarding Zack Snyder’s choice of Batman for the 2017 sequel to Man of Steel.  While Ben Affleck is undoubtably a talented writer/director, his acting projects have been both undeniable hits and cringe-worthy misses.  NO ONE, it would seem, is ready to forgive or forget Daredevil or Gigli.  But what people cannot seem to remember is that his more recent work shows off some real acting chops.  The Town, The Company Men, and Argo all show a darker side of Mr. Affleck.  Will he be able to top Christian Bale?  Probably not, but name me a single actor who can.  Still thinking?  That’s what I thought.

Affleck certainly has the charisma required to play Bruce Wayne.  Embodying the Caped Crusader will obviously require more effort.  But so what?  Let’s give the guy a chance, people.  It’s bad enough he’s following in Christian Bale’s footsteps…I mean, who would want to be in his shoes?!  No one held out much hope for Iron Man five years ago, and look what’s happened.  Robert Downey, Jr. has a relaunched career, and the film has spawned several different franchises.  What everyone needs to focus on is that BATMAN AND SUPERMAN WILL BE IN A MOVIE TOGETHER!  Ummm…YAY!!!!!!

So come on, fangirls and fanboys.  Let’s put this on the back burner until 2017.  If Affleck turns out to be an awful Batman (not a less freaktastic version than Bales, because that’s unavoidable…but legitimately vomitous), we can start grabbing the torches and pitchforks.  But until then, chill.