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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Catching Fire: The Hottest Movie of the Year!

hunger_games_catching_fire_motion_poster I watched The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Thursday night at 8pm.  I may be a bit of a superfan….because I wanted to be one of the first to see it.  However, I promised one of my friends that I wouldn’t blog about it until today, so that I wouldn’t ruin it for anyone.  Let it not be said that I’m a party pooper!  Now onto the review!

Catching Fire was amazing in every sense of the word.  It far surpassed its predecessor and managed to stay a little more true to the original books.  I’m not sure if it was a change in directors, or leads that were more used to each other, but this movie makes The Hunger Games seem like a B movie.  Jennifer Lawrence showed us more feeling and emotion as Katniss Everdeen, a young girl who has now become the symbol of revolution in Panem, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic USA.  She and Peeta, played by the ever-adorable Josh Hutcherson, must reunite to go on a Victory Tour of the 12 districts, where they witness the growing revolution first hand.  President Snow (played to perfection by seasoned veteran Donald Sutherland) has her number and suspects that she is not the love struck young woman she claims to be, and threatens to kill Gale and her family if she does not convince the masses.  Honestly, I don’t think the masses give a flying f**k what she feels for Peeta, they hate Snow and the Capitol regardless.  When Snow realizes that, and that he cannot control Katniss, he tries to off her by The Hunger Games: All Star Edition, otherwise known as the Quarter Quell.  Basically, when the Hunger Games were made, they instated a loophole where every 25 years some new rule is thrown in.  This time around it’s that the tributes must be selected from each district’s pool of victors.  Alas, Katniss and Peeta are back in the ring again.

The mix of action, political intrigue, drama, and surprising humor made this film hands down the best of the year.  It’s suspected to be a record-breaking hit at the Box Office, and with good reason.  Unlike the first movie, Catching Fire breathes fresh life into the trilogy, while still holding true to its source material.  My only complaint?  They play up the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale a bit too much.  Because we don’t have Katniss’s words floating across the page, we need some screenwriters that correctly portray how she’s feeling.  The woman has had feelings for Gale for years, but she refuses to acknowledge them.  However, she and Peeta started something in the Hunger Games.  It eventually became more than an act, and everyone realizes it except Katniss.  Until the Quarter Quell Games, where she finally realizes she might be in love with this kid.  J-Law tried to portray that, I think the writers were more focused on a Twilight-esque love triangle.  Vomit.

That said, I otherwise have no complaints.  Woody Harrelson (go Hoosier state!!!!) and Elizabeth Banks were amazing, as usual.  It was darling to see another side to Effie Trinket.  Liam Hemsworth was seldom seen, but he played his part well.  The amazing Stanley Tucci had me hunched over in my seat laughing my face off.  What a gem.  I really do not think this man gets enough credit—he morphs into whoever he’s playing and it is mind blowing!  The new faces were great, as well.  Jena Malone was spot on for Johanna Mason.  Her entrance scene in the elevator was golden (I don’t want to ruin it…so let me just say she bares a piece of herself that shocks all), and I will openly admit she’s one of my favorite characters in the books.  And then there’s the beautiful Sam Claflin as Finnick.  Sigh….I don’t get what all the fuss was about surrounding him playing the Capitol City’s darling boy.  He was FREAKING PERFECT.  Eat your hearts out, straight women and gay men of the world…..

This is one of the few movies I want to PAY to go see again.  And soon.  I laughed, I cried (a lot, I’ll admit), and I jumped in my seat.  There is something here for everyone, not just the 13-25 year old crowd that devoured the books.  Shall I give it a grade?  Don’t mind if I do.  It impressed the movie cynic critic enough to earn an  A+.

Can’t wait for Mockingjay 1 and 2!

November Movies to Watch Out For

Despite the decline in temperatures, November is traditionally a hot time for film releases (like what I did there?).  I, like most of America, am eagerly anticipating the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire.  I’ve read all the books, and can’t wait to see the next movie!  BUT there are a few other potential gems hitting theatres next month that I can’t wait to get my eyes on.  Here are the trailers!

Catching Fire

Ender’s Game

The Book Thief

Thor: The Dark World

Frozen

About Time

Which one are you most excited to see?