Amy Adams

American Hustle

Year: 2013
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

RYAN’S REVIEW

When we watched this movie for the first time it immediately had me with the initial caption: “Some of this actually happened.” This movie goes against the grain and doesn’t claim to be based on a true story but simply admits “some” of it actually happened.  That’s incredible because nothing annoys me more than a movie that promotes itself as “based on a true story” despite how many several liberties that were taken with the truth.  So right off the bat this movie makes a statement.  It’s honest and that says a lot about the type of filmmaker David O. Russell is.  This is another stellar movie added to his already impressive resume.

I don’t know what parts of this movie are true and what parts are fiction.  In truth I don’t care and won’t look it up to find out on principle.  I don’t think it matters what really happened in this story.  All that matters is this story.  This story is awesome and it is brought to life by some actors that turn in some really impressive performances.  I think this movie looks and feels like David O. Russell’s version of Goodfellas. Christian Bale reminds me so much of Robert De Niro in this movie both by his mannerisms and voice.  The content may be different but the way these two stories are told are similar with the voice over and biographical feeling.  Nevertheless, I’m not criticizing, when something is great it is great and there is no disputing this one.  Both films are great and I can’t think of any scenario in which the two of them being similar is a bad thing.

I wasn’t a fan of Bradley Cooper when he first came around. I remember seeing him for the first time, in the days before The Hangover, playing Aiden in one of the later seasons of Nip/Tuck. The show had really gotten awful by that point and his character didn’t leave a good impression with me.  Despite the initial impression I received this guy has never ceased to distinguish himself, especially in collaborations with David O. Russell. I really like the character dynamic Cooper brings to this film. He is kind of brilliant but kind of stupid at the same time.  He is a goofy looking guy with his curls but he might snap and go a little crazy at any moment. Men who get into cocaine are like that, spur of the moment insanity. They start slow but over time it goes to their head before they know it. Cooper pulls it all off nicely. Great performance from an actor who has earned my respect over time.

Amy Adams continues to be flawless and incredible.  She is a beautiful woman who brings true talent to all her performances.  She has specifically shined in David O. Russell films as she was also great in The Fighter. She fits into his films so deftly, and brings it each and every time. In this film she looks so incredible in those dresses. She plays such a dominant female role and I specifically like that about her.  She isn’t just a pretty face in this movie she is another badass in a film about badasses.  She plays Bradley Cooper for a chump and owns him at every turn.  She is a strong female lead and she should have won the Academy Award for the part.

Christian Bale, second greatest Batman after the first, never fails to be incredible no matter what he does. Despite not having an upper lip the man has done well for himself. As I mentioned earlier, in this film he reminds me implicitly of one of the greatest. I do not know if it was intentional or not but it is so spot on that I feel like it had to be. It’s amazing the things he does to his body for his roles.  We have seen him on each edge of the spectrum and in between.  He has been anorexic in The Machinist and The Fighter, he has shown the in between as a muscular Batman, and we have seen him put on the weight for this film. He put on over 40 pounds for this film. Bale continues to build what has already been an impressive career.

Jennifer Lawrence is phenomenal, plain and simple.  I wanted to be on the edge, I’m weird when it comes to trendy things and nobody has been trendier than Jennifer Lawrence for the last several years.  Nevertheless her performance speaks for itself.  Her accent is what shocks me so much in this film, it’s incredible.  Not only that but I refuse to acknowledge how hot she is because when she first came around I thought she was too much younger than me. I’m weird about that and it’s different as the years have passed. Nevertheless she makes it hard not to notice with this performance and I doubt anybody did. She plays the kind of woman that all men and women fear alike.  The unpredictable kind that can pretty much get whatever she wants and knows it.  She is intimidating in all the ways that only a beautiful woman can be.

For this whole film I kept telling Amber how much Christian Bale reminded me of De Niro.  Imagine my surprise when he actually showed up in the film.  I didn’t know prior to this although I should have.  I love his part in this movie and I love what he brings to this film.  Nobody does mobster like De Niro and I am happy to see how exceedingly well he can still pull it off. De Niro is just one of many gems playing a smaller role in this film. I remember an episode of Louie that was all about how uncomfortable Louis C.K. was acting in films.  I thought there was something to that episode and I had seen something into his real persona.  I doubt that now because he brings so much to this film with his performance.

The only thing that got Jeremy Renner on the poster for this film was that hairdo.  Otherwise I think his role in the film isn’t all that different than the ones turned in by De Niro and Louis C.K. and maybe they could have just as easily been that fifth person headlines for the film. Now don’t get me wrong, that hairdo is a thing of awesome and maybe he deserved that listing. Not only that but he is in the now, really hot at the moment and he does bring something significant to the film.

It’s not lost on me that two significant actors from Boardwalk Empire are in this film about Atlantic City. Shea Whignam, who plays Nucky Thompson’s brother Eli, and Jack Huston, who plays the assassin with no face Richard Harrow, both appear in the film.  That is another connection between Martin Scorsese, who serves as Executive Producer of the HBO series, and David O. Russell.  I am now inclined to think that Russell may be the second coming of Scorsese and if that is true then this man is only getting started.  We have a lot to look forward to from him and the actors he has drawn to himself.  In a time where marketable drives the movie industry it is nice to know that there are still men out there making art.  Making films that are more than just about making money and about lasting forever.  That is what we have in David O. Russell, a director that will make something unique and exceptional no matter what he has decided to do.  I have faith that he will continue to make the great films of the future and I can’t wait to see them.

This isn’t a movie that I need to recommend because it’s too recent to have been overlooked. It was a great film that received a lot of well deserved attention and respect.  It has no real connection to the 4th of July theme I suggested earlier other than having “American” in the title.  It might be a bit of a stretch but I was just looking for any excuse to watch this movie again and write a review about it.  I love it and I think it is proof that extraordinary films are still being made. This movie is worth your time to see.  If you somehow missed the boat then it’s never too late to climb aboard and see what you were missing.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I really, really enjoyed this movie. It is put together in such a beautiful, artistic way. Everything about this movie is beautiful. I think the entire cast was incredibly on point and the story keeps you interested until the end.

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The poster on the other hand, it could be better. Honestly, we like to say that everything could look better, and because I like this movie so much I am finding it hard to actually bash this one. I think it does what it needs to, but it also depicts some of the classic “no-nos” that I have been preaching to you guys for years. There is a MONTAGE of the cast. I hate to admit, but with a cast like this you almost have to put them all on the poster. Some people are going to come simply because they see Jennifer Lawrence’s name and others the same for Bradley Copper. Still, I think there were other ways they could have gone about it instead of putting them in the Mighty Ducks “flying V” and then feathering out the edges into black. The typography is intentional and it works for this period piece.

I still kinda of like it which makes me have some serious inner fighting people. I can’t decide. What do you guys think? I need your thoughts on this one!

 

Man of Steel

Amber and I had the opportunity to get out to the movie theater today for the first time all summer.  We haven’t had the chance to see many summer blockbusters yet but this weekend this movie was an easy choice.  I’m not going to go too far into it right now other than to tell you that it was worth it and it was awesome. Of course it was right? Warner Brothers knew what they were doing when they put Christopher Nolan in charge and when this is all said and done I think it will have paid off handsomely

I expected this movie to be good. I have the utmost respect for Christopher Nolan and David Goyer both, I think Zack Snyder is an OK director but regardless what I think his future is a lot brighter now. I think you can clearly see Nolan’s influence in this film and that is a great thing.  Henry Cavill impressed me, Kevin Costner impressed me, and Christopher Meloni really impressed me.  I thought Michael Shannon was every bit as good as I expected and of course Russell Crowe always brings it, he brought a lot to this film.  Amy Adams was OK, Laurence Fishburne has gained a lot of weight, and it’s a sad and unfortunate reality that Diane Lane has aged enough to play the role she had in this movie(she is still a gorgeous woman and she was great in the movie but I will miss her youth). I have never seen Antje Traue in anything else, but as Faora she was a complete and utter badass.  Now this isn’t enough about any of these people.  They all deserve more here but all that will come in time. I am already reserving a spot on the movie rack for this movie and can’t wait to see it again and give it a better review.

A lot hinges on the success of this movie.  More or less this movie represents the future of films about DC Comic characters.  Warner Brothers owns the rights to these people and they have got to be interested in one-upping Disney and what they did with The Avengers.  This movie is the first step in what will ultimately be a goal of making an equally successful Justice League movie.  Along the way we should see films about The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and the inevitable next Batman reboot. These movies will be on a new platform and set up to all tie together, or at least that should be what is done.  In the end we will hopefully see something really incredible in Warner Brothers answer to The Avengers. This was an awesome movie and a nice step in the right direction.  If you are on the fence about it at all let me erase any doubts you have and please share your own thoughts on the film.  I will give it a much deeper review when we buy it, until then let me insist that this is a movie worth seeing in the theater and encourage you to get out there and see it for yourself.

Julie & Julia

Year: 2009
Directed By: Nora Ephron
Written By: Nora Ephron (screenplay) based on books by Julie Powell and Julia Childs

RYAN’S REVIEW

A couple of years ago I begrudgingly bent to Amber’s will and watched this movie with her.  To my surprise I didn’t hate it.  I’m not what you would call a “Nora Ephron fan” so this was a movie that I tried to avoid just on principle.  This isn’t the kind of movie I typically like but it’s not a bad movie.  Given that I write on my own blog and enjoy doing so I think that part of the story is easy to relate to.

Meryl Streep is a great actress and is typically good in everything she does.  I don’t see many of her movies but I have seen enough to marvel at her talent.  I know absolutely nothing about Juila Child and had honestly somehow never heard the name before we watched this movie. Amy Adams is also a great actress who has shown significant versatility throughout her career. Jane Lynch also has a small part in this movie and I think she is awesome. I am a big fan of Jane Lynch, she brings a lot to every character she plays.

I don’t have much more to say about this movie because it really isn’t my speed.  It’s a chick flick all the way but as far as those go I see this one as tolerable.  It’s an interesting enough story and given that it’s based on one that really happened I think that makes it more significant.  Having said that I think I will say this movie is worth your time.  If you are going to sit through something to please your wife you could do a lot worse.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I liked this movie. I thought it was a cute chick flick that didn’t involve some insane love story. It was about a path of a woman, finding her way to write. I thoroughly liked it.

julieandjulia

There are few problems with this poster. First, it’s extremely boring. Obviously it’s about two different story lines, but I think the poster took an incredibly direct approach to that by separating them so starkly. It’s pretty basic what was done here. Also, why is Julia Child at the top and Julie on the bottom, when the movie title reads the opposite. It seems to me that Julie would be on the top and Julia on the bottom.

I do like the typography, but only because I am a sucker for a pretty ampersand. The poster may not be the “bee’s knees” but the movie is worth a try.

NEXT MOVIE: Junior (1994)

The Fighter

Year: 2010
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: Scott Sliver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington

RYAN’S REVIEW

Amber brought this movie home from a trip to Wal-Mart a couple of days ago and I was glad to see she had picked it up.  We watched this movie when it became available a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.  It clearly belonged in the collection and it was only the matter of time waiting for the price to be reasonable enough for purchase.  Amber found it in the $5.00 bin and I will say that the movie is much too new to be marked down that much but can’t argue with the opportunity.

This movie surprised me in many ways, as boxing movies often do.  I think boxing movies are great and I have written why several times now.  They all follow such a similar story line yet usually manage to bring something new to the table.  This movie is as much about drug addiction as it is about boxing but the two are blended together in a great way that gives the film a clear direction.  I am unfamiliar with most professional boxers and knew of neither Micky Ward or Dicky Ekland before watching the movie.  I don’t know how accurate their portrayal is in the movie but given they were both involved with the making of the film I think it’s a safe bet it got their stamp of approval.

Of course the strength of this film comes from the performances of the cast.  Christian Bale is absolutely incredible in this movie and it is probably his finest role.  Bale won the Academy Award for his role in the movie and it doesn’t take long to see why.  Something about the look he has in his eyes all throughout the film says it all.  I am a big fan of Bale and continue to be impressed with the performances he gives.  I despise Mark Wahlberg but he continues to make good films.  He is well cast in this movie and does a good job but he is the weakest link of the cast.  He plays a character in this movie that is so much like a victim at the mercy of his overbearing family. For more about why I don’t like Wahlberg you should see our review of The Departed.  It has nothing to do with his talent but only the person he was before hitting it big.  I think Amy Adams is a terrific actress and she was robbed of the Academy Award for her role in this movie.  She is a beautiful actress and as an awesome perk you can see her in a great scene in this one where she is wearing see through undies.  Her accent in this movie was great and she had a look of a real hometown local.  Her diversity as an actress continues to be impressive and I look forward to what else she has to offer.  This summer we will be able to see her playing the part of Lois Lane in the new Superman movie.  I have never seen Melissa Leo before but she was incredible in this movie playing the tough and no-nonsense mother.  She rules her family with an iron hand and intimidates the hell out of everyone.  I also want to mention Jack McGee because I think he is awesome.  I was a big fan of his character in Rescue Me, and I have enjoyed many of his roles in film.

David O. Russell directed this movie and although he doesn’t have a large body of work under his belt he has plenty of success to back himself up.  He hit it big this year with Silver Linings Playbook being nominated again for Best Director but not winning.  He was also nominated for this film but lost like many did to The King’s Speech which I didn’t think was that impressive.  The only other movie I know by Russell was Three Kings and I have always like that one as well.  I look forward to seeing Silver Linings Playbook when the opportunity comes and I’m confident it will be great because it was made by such a good director.

This is a movie that follows two themes that are usually always redundant but it manages to set itself apart nevertheless.  Movies about drug abuse and boxing always tend to follow the same patterns but not in this one. We see the damage drugs can do to a person’s life and the lives of those who care about the person while also following the inspiring struggle that boxers go through. The struggles in this movie also extend to the family and how they affect Micky Ward in his effort to make something of himself.  Movies about struggles like this always have something to teach us and give us a chance to learn from the experiences and enhance our own lives. Not everybody sees movies like this but I always have and try my best to learn from the experience.

There is apparently a sequel for this movie in the works that will follow the next stage of Micky Ward’s career and I think there is a lot of potential there.  You don’t often see sequels to movies made based on a true story but I think it’s a good idea in this case.  If we learned anything from the Rocky franchise it’s that the audience is more than willing to see a boxer glove up and do it again, and again, and again. So I hope the sequel to this is made and look forward to seeing what happens.  This movie is good enough for a sequel I think.  This movie is more than worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.