Genre – Based (loosely) off a true story, Dram-edy
Director – David O. Russell (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook)
Cast – Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner. Appearances by Louis C.K. & Robert De Niro
Alluring element – Fat Bruce Wayne having sex with Lois Lane, All 70’s music, clothes and lingo, Jeremy Renner wearing Bruno Mars’ hair
Check it out if you liked – The 70’s, dry humor and plot twists,
When I first saw the trailer for American Hustle, I was immediately sold on Amy Adams’ boobs stage presence. I didn’t care what the story was about, I didn’t care how well it was filmed; all i saw was Jennifer Lawrence in a skin-tight outfit and Amy Adams with enough tasteful side-boob to make Zac Efron bashful. What we got instead, though, is a playful, almost Oceans-esque drama about con artists and the love trapezoid that they are caught in. The film is set in the late 1970’s and centered around Abscam, an FBI operation that was initially set up to catch trafficking stolen goods.
The operation ended up leading the FBI to catching many politicians taking dirty money for a variety of reasons, and really opening up America’s eyes to the corruption amongst civil servants (which I’m sure is long and gone today). As far as the movie goes, that’s pretty much the extent in which it follows real life. The names have been changed and the story of our actual main characters are completely fabricated. Which is not a bad thing. By taking a real event and spinning a ludicrous and entertaining situation out of it, there’s less scrutiny to be placed on the accuracy. It’s more about using imagination to create a situation than telling the story of the past.
The acting in American Hustle is top-notch – a comic book nerd ensemble that we can really be proud of. Consisting of Batman (Bale), Lois Lane (Adams), Mystique (Lawrence), Rocket Raccoon (Cooper) and Hawkeye (Renner), I was thrilled the whole way through. As hard as it for me to see Christian Bale as anything but The Dark Knight, his oddly charismatic, comb-over sporting con man, Irving Rosenfeld, is played very well. So well that Bale gained over forty pounds and gave himself two herniated discs trying to achieve a slouched posture. Oh, and talk about a role being tailor-made for an actor, (probably because it was) Jennifer Lawrence is bat-shit crazy as Bale’s wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld. It’s the perfect blend of over-the-top Real Housewives of New Jersey-style insane that leaves you wondering if it’s just too obscene to be real. I was left hating her character, but in a good way. Really though, it was Amy Adams’ portrayal of Sydney Prosser, or Lady Edith Greensly, that stole the show. Her emotional struggle to find her identity and the way she can seamlessly shift between pseudonyms fooled even me, at times, and I knew it was a scam.
Aside from the main characters, there are also a couple of guest appearances that deserve mention. Robert De Niro plays a big-time crime boss with his hand in the pot trying to fund a casino in Atlantic City and Louis C.K. plays Bradley Cooper’s superior in the FBI. Another nod to Atlantic City, there are a couple guest spots from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire in Shea Whigham and Jack Huston – who, might I add, looks much better with a full face. None of them have significant screen time, but add some credibility to the film and make it feel like the big-time production it really is.
In a time when every big movie out needs a gimmick, American Hustle, ironically, has none. It’s a film with romance, action, humor and plot twists – ya know, like the kind that your mom used to watch. Everything in the movie is set to the late 70’s, from the hair to the wardrobe to the colloquialisms to the lens filters and technology. There were multiple times that I forgot I was watching a 2013 movie. And at just over two hours of run-time, there was never a lull in the story. Not everything came with dramatic death-defying scenes or explosions, but it was still thoroughly compelling. The film does a great job of saying things without saying them, which is an aspect lacking sorely in movies recently. Most importantly, American Hustle isn’t afraid to make fun of itself. There is not a moment too serious that the writers couldn’t insert a joke to show how ridiculous the plot – and era – of the movie are.
When it comes right down to it, American Hustle is a great story about how the system thought they could corner a con man, and how that con man saw right through it all. With a robust ensemble cast and a plot with enough momentum for the entire film, Hustle relies on story-telling and power-house performances to guide it – not high-tech special effects (Notes: This is the highest rated film we’ve done for 2013, and the five under it are all science-fiction). It will make you laugh and the ending is very satisfying. I highly recommend this movie.
The blockbusters are coming! The blockbusters are coming! November stars off with a bang and keeps getting better. With some big movies on the horizon, it’s hard not to get excited about the action movies, the book-to-movie adaptations and family films coming your way this upcoming month.
November 1 – Ender’s Game
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis
Based off the 1985 book of the same name, Ender’s Game is centered around a young boy who is enlisted into some weird child army to single-handedly eliminate an alien threat and save the world. This child prodigy, played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo‘s title actor), is a very advanced strategist and thinker for his age, which leads him to be outcasted a lot. The book focused on a lot of battle strategy and the “games” he plays to train himself – many of which I think kids would love to play. I’m thoroughly excited to see this movie and think it will translate into a beautiful District 9/Harry Potter sci-fi mash-up.
Okay, so nobody roots for a turkey to win, but that may change after Free Birds comes out. Awkwardly just a few weeks before millions of pounds of turkey are devoured by Americans, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson will lead an animated revolution to go back in time and “take turkeys off the menu.” TOO SOON. The trailer shows lots of good family fun, and enough jokes for adults to enjoy it as well. It looks worth checking out, but with all the other juggernaut films coming out the next few days, it might have served well to come out a little closer to Thanksgiving. Here’s to hoping their plan works!
November 1 – Last Vegas
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, 50 Cent
Imagine Hangover forty years later. Seriously, that’s about it; it’s a little shallow, but with the star-power that comes with this movie, there should be enough momentum to carry it. Aimed towards a different demographic, expect a lot of old people jokes. Actually, that’s really all you should expect. It’s also time that I accept that Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro are officially old. The scene with Morgan Freeman gathering the courage to jump out of his bedroom window is, and always be, hysterical. Again, with all these action epics out this month, I don’t expect this movie to do well, but will probably be worth a Netflix rental.
The Armstrong Lie begins with a humble story. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, enamored with the story of Lance Armstrong, was filming an inspiring documentary about the miracle comeback of an American cyclist. Of course, it ended up being too good to be true, as Armstrong was juicing/doping/whatever. So instead of calling it a day, Gibney gave Lance two middle fingers and decided to turn the positive documentary into one shaming him (although, I don’t know how much more shaming could be done). It’s a documentary I wish ESPN: 30 for 30 would have done, but I’m intrigued nonetheless.
November 8 – Thor: The Dark World
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba
Here comes Thor! It’s been a while since his forgettable movie debut, but the buzz from The Avengers is keeping this character in the spotlight for the time being. Chris Hemsworth does a convincing job as the Thunder God, but we will need more than just GC’ed monsters and backgrounds to make this a good film. The chemistry, as violent as it is, between Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is among the best in all the comic book movies. Odin willing, there is enough substance in the story and supporting acting for this film to give Thor the props he deserves.
November 15 – The Book Thief
Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
The Book Thief is one of the best young adult novels to come out in recent years. It can seem a little daunting to read because it has 500+ pages, but so do most of the Harry Potter books. The Book Thief is so stellar because it is easy to read, yet incredibly thought provoking. Narrated by Death, we follow a little girl named Liesel who is a German girl growing up under the Hitler regime. She and her adoptive family are harboring a young Jewish man. Liesel works around the town and steals books for she and her Jewish friend, Max to read. Like many wartime stories, especially of such a heavy nature, it can be expected to cry a bit. I highly recommend seeing this film if it has any resemblance to the book.
November 15 – The Wolf of Wall Street
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau
**UPDATE: It was just confirmed Tuesday that the film would be pushed back to Christmas Day so that Scorsese could kill some babies and try to get it from an NC-17 rating down to an R rating. Sad times, but a great Christmas movie awaits us.**
November 22 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland
Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with the film adaptation of the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy. And I’m sorry to still harp on this, but why does Peeta still have BOTH LEGS?! Ok, ok, moving on. I loved that the previews for Catching FIre only allowed us a glimpse of the Victory Tour for Katniss and Peeta, because it purposefully left out the second half of the book. I’ll leave it a mystery here, in case you don’t know what happens to our heroine, but I’ll say that it will be worth it to meet a character named Finnick O’Dair, a winner of a previous Hunger Game. Eeekkk…. nerd girl moment, here I come on November 22!
November 22 – Delivery Man
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt
It’s pretty hard for me to turn down a movie with Vince Vaughn. In Delivery Man, Vaughn plays a man who learns he is the father to several hundred children due to a mix-up at a sperm bank. He makes it his mission to have a little part in his kids lives. The movie is a remake of a French film named Starbuck. In time for the holiday season, the comedy with a little bit of a risque theme will most likely be the feel good movie of the month.
November 27 – Frozen
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Johnathan Groff, Alan Tudyk
The previews for Disney Animated’s Frozen were so creative because they were little short films before the actual movie. In fact, the first time I saw a preview this summer, I thought it was a short before the film. The story is about a girl named Anna (Kristen Bell) who is on the search for her sister who has turned the kingdom into a permanent Winterland. With the help of some wintertime friends, Anna embarks on her adventure. The movie looks super cute and will be the perfect way to start the winter season.
November 27 – Oldboy
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson,
A movie that is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film that is based off a 1996 Japanese manga that stars Josh Brolin. It’s also directed by Spike Lee. Brolin plays a man captured and held prisoner, then forced to watch news update that pin him as the murderer of his wife (surprise!). For twenty years, he watches the world go by from his solitary confinement. Just when he begins to grow a Merlin-scale beard, he is released into the world. From there, it looks like a lot of crazy ensues, and he has sex with hot women and kills a lot of people. The preview kinda made me sad, as I realized that Brolin could easily play a Dark Knight Returns style Bruce Wayne (no knock to Affleck). The biggest story here isn’t going to be Brolin, though, it will be to see if Spike Lee still has the juice. Lee hasn’t really directed a good movie since 2006’s Inside Man and everybody expects big things from everything he puts out.
November 27 – Homefront
Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth
Yet another book-to-movie adaptation of Chuck Logan’s book of the same name, Homefront stars Jason Statham (sidenote: thank God, because it’s been almost six months since I’ve seen Statham shoot anybody in a movie and I was beginning to go through withdrawals) as an undercover DEA agent who is harrassed because his daughter beat the crap out of a bully that happened to be the son of a meth kingpin, named Gator. Gator, played by James Franco, is not Heisenberg. He is a sloppy redneck, and I’m sure there is some elaborate speech where he tells us why his name is Gator. I can guarantee a large body count on Statham’s behalf, and creepily good acting by Franco, but it’s Winona Ryder that will steal the show…. too soon? Anyway, it will be a pretty good movie, but expect a pretty formulaic Statham movie.
November 29 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris,
Finally, Idris Elba gets his first solo starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see The Wire’s Stringer Bell play Nelson Mandela – and not the South African rugby team (Invictus), not the
Finally, Idris Elba gets his first starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see Elba play Nelson Mandela. And it’s not as the head of the South African rugby team, it’s the man behind the revolution. This movie should give Elba much needed respect. Although I am bit concerned, as his trademark mustache was not casted for the part, I am glad that this is not a gimmicky portrayal to portray the freedom fighter; actually, this story is based off of Mandela’s own auto-biography. Cue K’Naan’s “Waving Flag;” it’s a wrap!
This month’s list brings us:
10 based off a true story or book to movie adaptations or sequels
3 “original” ideas
Join us next month, as we cover some of this year’s most anticipated films. Action, mayhem and wonder await us in December. Any other movies you are interested in that we did not cover this month? Let us know!
Hey guys! It’s been a whole year since we’ve done this, but with the rise in good independent films and nerd-based movies, we feel like now is as good of a time to get back on it as any. While action films tend to rule supreme, September is a month of promising documentaries and indy films, making up for the super-saturation of action movies this summer.
The third installment of the trilogy following Diesel’s Riddick around a desolate future where vicious creatures rule the darkness. The Riddick series has garnered quite the cult following and it’s not without reason. The sweet special effects, a strong protagonist and a fully-enveloped world helped the previous two films, Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick, carve out a niche in the sci-fi world. Riddick‘s story starts with our main character left for dead on some God-forsaken planet, killing lost of nasty alien creatures and humans that get in his way while he saves a planet from being described. Ya know, pretty much every sci-fi plot since science fiction was a thing. While this film will definitely create some buzz, like most of Diesel’s other flicks, I don’t expect it to make too much noise. That said, this will definitely be a movie I will want to see in theaters. I’ve really enjoyed Diesel’s performances of the first two films and I can’t wait to see how the third one plays out. – S
September 6 – Salinger
Starring: Martin Sheen, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Judd Apatow, many other famous people
Salinger is a documentary centered around the secluded life of legendary author, J.D. Salinger, whose book, The Catcher in the Rye, after multiple murderers (one being that of The Beatles’ John Lennon) claimed that his book inspired them to carry out the murders. It will be a pretty in-depth look at the man behind the myth. Salinger has been described as being “exhaustively researched” by one of its critics; this is something that Adrian (an English major and readaholic) will geek out about, and viewers who are not as well-versed in literature, like me, can look forward to learning a lot from it. The documentary’s director, Shane Salerno, has been working on the film for over eight years, and has co-written an extensive biography on Salinger. Salerno describes the film as a view “inside J.D. Salinger’s private world and shine light on a man named Jerry who lived in the shadow of the myth of J.D. Salinger.” Our book nerds will have a review to look forward to on this film for sure. – S
September 13 – The Family
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones
A fun spin on mob family comedies, The Family is a tale about a man (played by De Niro) that informs on the mob and enters the Witness Protection program, moving his family to France in order to remain anonymous from the crime family that he snitched on. The best part about the trailer is that his whole family is a bunch of jerks. Their mob mentality hasn’t gone away at all, and from the previews, it’s a pretty humorous look at mafia mentality translated to other areas of life. Surprisingly, laying low doesn’t last long. Explosions and hilarity ensue. It doesn’t look ground-breaking or anything, but it is an original spin on a dated idea. It could be worth a look. – S
September 13 – The Muslims Are Coming
Starring: A buncha Muslim comedians, political comedians (John Stewart, Lewis Black, etc)
The Muslims Are Coming! is a documentary/stand up comedy centered around Muslim comedians trying to break the race barrier with humor. It’s been years since I’ve seen a stand-up movie in theaters, but as an Arab-American, I feel pretty invested in this. The Muslims Are Coming! started off as a Kickstarter campaign, believe it or not. While it’s sold as a stand-up comedy, my guess is that a majority of the film will use personal encounters with Southerners and a slew of celebrity interviews to try to eliminate Mulsimophobia in the film. It also brings to light the issue of acceptance of Westernized Muslims by traditional Muslims. Muslims raised in America often find themselves trapped in the middle, not being accepted by either traditional Muslims or the mainstream American population. It looks to be a pretty decent movie, boasting, “You’ve never laughed this hard at a Muslim.” – S
September 20 – C.O.G
Starring: David Sedaris’ genius, Johnathan Groff (The Conspirator), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars)
It’s amazing that a film based off anything of David Sedaris’ life is being made at all. If you are unfamiliar with who David Sedaris is, let me clue you in. Sedaris is a bestselling author of creative non-fiction. I wouldn’t go as far as to say his writings are all memoir, because memoir doesn’t necessarily make people laugh. Sedaris has written about all his odd jobs, his life with boyfriend Hugh, his time in NYC and Chicago, and his family and childhood in North Carolina. The reason there has never been a film made of his books and/or stories is because he always felt that his family would be mocked rather than acted and he never wanted them portrayed that way. That being said, I don’t believe Sedaris’ family will take much of a role in C.O.G. C.O.G. stands for Child of God. As a fair warning, this movie is probably not for bigots, homophobes or religious zealots. The story of C.O.G. will be a mixture of stories David wrote about his early 20’s working the apple season in the northwest and then carving clocks with a friend he makes. That being said, I cannot wait to see this film. Sedaris is my favorite author and i know he has had a lot to do with the making of the film. Be ready to laugh hysterically, be shocked and even come away enlightened. – A
September 27 – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2
Starring: Bill Hader (SNL), Anna Farris (Scary Movie), Andy Samberg (SNL), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), Terry Crews
As the month’s lone family film, Meatballs 2 looks to pick up where the second film left off. Flint and the rest of Swallow Falls return to a land they had to evacuate after Flint’s food machine forced the population out of town. When they return, it gets all Land of the Lost meets the Food Channel. The entire island has evolved and food creatures now rule over the treacherous land. Every creature is some silly play on names, the most hilarious being the Tacodile… SUPREME! It looks to be full of laughs for the whole family, with a few SNL alumni to keep things fresh for kids and adults alike. I really enjoyed the first installment, so I expect the sequel to repeat the formula that made the original so successful. – S
September 27 – Don Jon
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza
Setting aside my total man-crush on JGL (yeah, he has his own acronym), I’m genuinely excited to see Don Jon. In his writing and directing debut, Gordon-Levitt also stars as a sex-addicted bro-guy who unexpectedly falls for Scarlett Johansson and has to decide if he wants to live his life through porn or whether he wants to settle down with a decent girl. Of course, any time you mention Scarlett Johansson and sex-addiction in the same sentence, I’m sold. In all honestly, though, this looks to be a different approach. I’m sure there will be gratuitous sex in Don Jon, but I think that it will be limited. I see Joseph Gordon-Levitt adding depth to a seemingly shallow film. Don Jon looks like it will be a fun independent film, and hopefully will put JGL on the map as more than just an awesome actor. It’s the film I’m most excited for this month. – S
September 27 – As I Lay Dying
Starring: James Franco, Danny McBride
You may have thought right off the bat that a movie starring James Franco and Danny McBride would be a sequel to this summer’s This is the End. But a second glance at the title, and you may be reminded of William Faulkner’s classic American novel of the same name. As a bibliophile myself, I am always excited to see moviemakers ideas about a book. William Faulkner is one of the best authors in American history, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make a quality film of his genius. James Franco not only plays the main character, Darl, but he also directs the film. The main plot is a family of brothers and sisters must bury their dead mother in a nearby town. Keep in mind that the book was written in 1930, so this will be a period piece. I look forward to seeing where this adaptation takes the viewer. – A
September 27 – Rush
Starring: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Daniel Brühl (famous German actor), Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy, Butter, House, drooooool….)
Blah blah blah, Olivia Wilde, blah blah blah, racing. Wait, what? Olivia Wilde? Sold! Rush is a Ron Howard film about the rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda that is more about the two driving each other to be the best than it is about winning. Lauda is severely injured in a crash (actual footage shown below) and he tries to make a comeback, with the help of Hunt pushing him. While it looks like it would make a really cool ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, I don’t know that I could watch the movie without thinking of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Help me, Tom Cruise, it has Olivia Wilde in it, so I’m automatically interested. – S
That’s quite a bit of movies for September! Look out for October’s preview in a month.