DVD Review “American Hustle”

Actors: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
Directors: David O. Russell
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Run Time: 138 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“American Hustle” was really not my cup of tea. I thought that the acting was quite phenomenal especially Jennifer Lawrence but overall, I thought it was long and switched too much from comedy to drama that I wasn’t sure when or if I should be laughing or cringing. Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper definitely deserves their Oscar nominations, no question. Cooper was a nutso in this film (poor Louis C.K.) and Christian Bale should have been nominated for Best Hair of the year. “Silver Linings Playbook” was easily one of my favorite films of 2012 but I was not a fan of “The Fighter” from David O. Russell, so I think him and I are hit and miss. Did I mention that Jennifer Lawrence was amazing in this film, I think more of her could have easily won me over.

Official Premise: A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, “American Hustle” tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Renner plays Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook), “American Hustle” defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.

Since this film was only available for us to review on DVD, I will not go into the video and audio much but the film this isn’t really a film that NEEDS to be seen in high definition anyway. The DVD is delivered as a combo pack with an HD Digital Ultraviolet copy as well. When it comes down to the special features though, this film does not improve much either. There is only one feature to look behind-the-scenes at “The Making of American Hustle”, which is decent. Besides that there are some deleted and extended scenes. I thought when I first watching this film that maybe I would have enjoyed this a little more again with a nice commentary track to complement the film but I guess that is not going to happen.

“American Hustle” and “Gravity” Lead This Yeas Academy Award Nominations

“Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron’s space masterpiece and “American Hustle,” David O’ Russell’s look back at the ABSCAM scandal of the 1970s, led all films nominated today for the upcoming 86th Annual Academy Awards. Both films received a total of 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

A total of 9 films were nominated for Best Picture this year, and those films nominated earned the lion’s share of other nominations. Right on the trail of “Gravity” and “American Hustle” comes “12 Years a Slave,” which earned 9 nominations. Three other Best Picture nominees earned 6 nominations each: “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyer’s Club” and “Nebraska.” Two very difrerent films, Martin Scorsese’s tale of excess, “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Spike Jonze’s technical romance “Her” each had 5 nominations. Bringing up the rear is surprise nominee “Philomena,” which takes home 4 nods. Surprisingly missing from the list is the box office and critical favorite from earlier last year, “Lee Daniels The Butler,” which was shut out of every category it was eligible for.

“American Hustle” becomes the 15th film in Oscar history to receive nominations in all four acting categories. Ironically, director Russell’s previous film, “Silver Lining Playbook,” also duplicated that feat. “Silver Lining Playbook” was the first film to achieve this record since Warren Beatty’s “Reds” did it in 1981. Two of the “American Hustle” actors – Best Supporting Actor nominee Bradley Cooper and Best Supporting Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence – were nominated in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories last year, with Lawrence taking home the Oscar. They are joined this year by Best Actor and Best Actress nominees Christian Bale and Amy Adams.

“Gravity”‘s only other major nomination was for Sandra Bullock as Best Actress. The majority of the film’s nomination are for technical achievements, including film editing and production design.

Bullock is among four previous Oscar winners in the Best Actress category which includes Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”, Judi Dench (“Philomena) and three time winner Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”). Only Amy Adams of “American Hustle” is currently Oscar-less.

Best Actor is a contest between both Hollywood veterans and newcomers. Former Best Supporting Actor winner Christian Bale is nominated for “American Hustle,” while Bruce Dern earns his first Academy Award nomination since 1979’s “Coming Home” for “Nebraska.” Leonardo DiCaprio earns his fourth nomination for his work in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” These three are joined by Oscar newcomers Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club” and Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”).

Best Supporting Actor nominees include newcomer Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips”), Cooper, Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave’), Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) and Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”). Best Supporting Actress noms went to Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), previous Best Actress winner Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”) and June Squibb (“Nebraska’).

Joining Cuaron and Russell in the Best Director category are Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”), Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and previous winner Martin Scorsese (“The Wolf of Wall Street”).

“Frozen” leads the nominees for Best Animated Feature, which also includes “The Croods,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Ernest and Celestine” and “The Wind Rises.”

The 86th Annual Academy Awards will be presented live on March 2, 2014 on ABC Television.

Film Review “American Hustle”

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner
Directed By: David O. Russell
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 138 minutes
Sony Pictures

Our Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

The main cast of David O. Russell’s two previous acclaimed films The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook join forces with added Jeremy Renner and Louis CK to form the glorious and hilarious American Hustle. Set amidst the 1970s ABSCAM affair, Hustle is less concerned with historical accuracy, disclaiming only “some of this actually happened” and more interested in pitting ambitious larger-than-life players against each other. The huge personalities are well matched to the gorgeous kaleidoscope of 1970s hair and wardrobe on display. The result is a wildly fast-paced comedy that lives up to the promise of its powerhouse cast. Easily one of the best films of the year.

The film follows Christian Bale as Bronx con man, Irving Rosenfeld, who is hellbent on making something of himself with his shady loans dealings and forged artwork. He decides to reveal his true occupation, hidden behind a dry cleaning front, to equally ambitious schemer Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) with whom he hooked up with at a party. At first Rosenfeld regrets his decision but Prosser comes roaring back to him with a fully formed persona for joining in on his scams. Equipped with the poshest of fake British accents Sydney transforms into Edith Greensly whose alleged London banking connections make Rosenfeld’s offers that much more appealing to his marks.

The couple’s whirlwind romance and financial success is halted when they’re caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) who aims to use the pair’s skills in order to entrap government officials and even bigger fish. DiMaso, like Irving, is also eager to make the bigtime. As DiMaso Cooper’s wild eyed hunger for getting the largest targets possible in the face of a sensible superior played by the brilliant Louis CK is one of the greatest joys of the film. Meanwhile Jeremy Renner as the affable politician DiMaso seeks to ruin helps to ground the emotional cost of the agent’s desperation. Mainly though Hustle is a fascinating power struggle between the trio of Irving, Richie and Sydney. Each scene is rife with a nervous energy as the three players face off and get themselves further and further in over their heads. Sydney’s real or feigned affection for both of the men adds additional tension for good measure with Adams doing some of her best work ever.

In lesser hands, the cast may have been outshone by the garish hair and trappings of the disco era, but here the pile of hair on Jennifer Lawrence for example seems downright tame on the head of her boozy Rosalyn, Irving’s wildcard wife. Her face-off with Adams over their mutual claim to Bale’s character is one of the most electric moments of the film and both actresses dive into their rivalry with relish.