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some of the best acting i’ve ever seen!!

December 17, 2014

“American Hustle.” Directed and co-written by David. O. Russell. Same guy who made “The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “I Heart Huckabees” (I’ll write about that one later), and “Three Kings.”

This movie is a period piece, set in 1978. A ton of work was done to make the film look authentic. Costume and set designers should really be given a lot of credit!

What’s the movie about? A master con-artist and his girlfriend who is also brilliant, his rather unstable wife, a somewhat corrupt but goodhearted mayor, and an overly ambitious, semi-crazed FBI agent who gets things very messed up for everybody.

The stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner.

Bale plays the con artist, Irving. You might not often be impressed by Bale’s acting. I’m usually not, until I remind myself that he’s British, not American. He does his usual American accent well enough I suppose, but usually is sort of Johnny-one-note in his performances. Same kind of voice, whether it be in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the western “3:10 to Yuma,” “Terminator: Salvation,” or most recently in “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Actually, in “Exodus,” Bale’s accent was all over the place. Rather distracting.

Once in a rare while though, he tries really hard and does incredible things. In “American Psycho,” Bale’s breakout film, he was shockingly good, especially toward the end of the film. Many years later, in “The Fighter,” he was again amazing.

There was an independent film he did a few years ago called “The Machinist.” Bale’s performance was good in that one, but what was more noticeable was his commitment to changing his appearance to fit the character. Bale did this later in “The Fighter” and “American Hustle,” but not so radically as in “The Machinist.”

In that film, Bale played a man who hadn’t slept for a year, was unintentionally starving himself,  and going mad. Bale lost so much weight he was beyond emaciated. Looked like he practically killed himself. And that was a small film, not meant for major release. That’s how hardcore Bale can get when he wants to.

In “The Fighter,” Bale seemed somehow taller and thinner than usual, and also had a much different expression on his face than he usually does. Also, he changed his voice a great deal. Up until I’d seen “American Hustle,” I would have said Bale’s best performance was in “The Fighter.”

In “American Hustle,” Bale is even better. For this movie, he put on an extra 40 pounds of fat, changed his voice radically,  and his mannerisms. He was amazing. A total transformation. Something I’ve seen almost no actor ever do. Bale’s performance was that good.

Amy Adams starred with Bale in “The Fighter.” I’d never seen Adams act so well as in that film. She was amazingly intense. She is not as intense in “American Hustle,” as Sydney/Edith, the girlfriend and con-artist partner of Irving, but she is very sexy and seductive (I’ve never seen her play a character like this before), She does have some rather intense moments, just a different kind of intensity than she had in “The Fighter.”

Russell’s film that followed “The Fighter” was “Silver Linings Playbook,” which featured Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who worked very well together. Lawrence won the Academy Award for Best actress because of her performance.

Lawrence is as good, and maybe even better in “American Hustle.” She plays the cunning but rather unstable wife of Irving. She makes things a lot more complicated and dangerous for the other characters, who are already dealing with a massive amount of stress, confusion and difficulty. Lawrence’s character also provides some comic relief in the film. Her performance is excellent.

Bradley Cooper portrayed the overly keen FBI agent who forced Sydney and Irving to work for him so he could try to bust powerful people. Cooper is not the best actor in my opinion. What he is best at, and what he usually does, is play manic, somewhat funny, unhinged guys. He does this in the Hangover movies, “The A-Team,” (which was loads of fun), “Silver Linings Playbook,” and “American Hustle.”

I’ve seen Cooper play subtler roles, in such films as “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and “The Words.” He does alright. I think he’s best at the manic roles though, and does well in that regard in “American Hustle.”

Jeremy Renner has had an interesting career. Breakout performance was in “The Hurt Locker.” He was perfect in that film. He was ok in the newest Bourne movie. Matt Damon got tired of making those films, I guess. I’m not crazy about the Bourne films.

Renner was good in “The Avengers,” even though he had a small role. He was pretty good in the Ben Affleck film, “The Town,” and out-acted Affleck, but that is generally easy to do, in my opinion.

Renner did very well in “American Hustle.” Best performance of his since “The Hurt Locker.” He played the mayor of Camden, NJ, who got mixed up in a con-artist sting operation set up by Cooper’s character.

The performances by all five people I’ve mentioned are at the very least strong. Bale, Adams, and Lawrence.. amazing.

The movie won Golden Globe for Best Picture. Amy Adams won a Globe for best actress, and Jennifer Lawrence won for best supporting actress.

Shockingly, the movie was spurned at the Oscars. 10 nominations and no wins. I do not understand this. Should have won best picture. “12 Years A Slave” won instead. I haven’t seen that film, and it may have been magnificently made, but I doubt I would have wanted it to win.

Wow.. I’m giving “American Hustle” such high praise. I hope that if you watch it, you will not be disappointed!

It is a long, complicated film. It requires some commitment to watch. Don’t attempt to view it if you are feeling sleepy or just want some light entertainment. There is a LOT of emotional intensity in this film.

This movie is rated R for a reason.. not for the kids. Tons of profanity, including rather direct sexual dialog, as well as some nudity. Amy Adams is almost always in dresses that show off quite a bit of her breasts. Which is surprising. Like I said, I’ve never seen her in a sexually provocative role like this.

So.. if you are an adult, and want to see a fantastic film that keeps you on edge and wondering what’s going to happen next, and, most importantly, you want to see some phenomenal acting.. Watch this movie!

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