AMERICAN HUSTLE (and Greetings from the Rocky Mountains!)

Dear loyal blog readers,

I have been out of touch because I am currently ensconced in my grandparent’s home in the Rocky Mountain West.

It is heaven.

They give me wet food AND dry food, have a huge house with a bunch of different beds I can sleep in, and windows where I can watch squirrels anytime I want. The only thing I have to do is occasionally wear themed pajamas. We all have a cross to bear.

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But let’s jump right into it– I’ve seen a couple of movies recently but have been too lazy to write. Till now!

It’s been an embarrassment of riches this year at the movies .

Gravity left my hindquarters sore from clutching them with tension.
12 Years A Slave was simultaneously a feast for the eyes and unbearable to watch.
Wolf of Wall Street was an adrenaline rush of disgust and delight.
Captain Phillips was an action movie with a big brain and one of the strongest single scenes of the year.
Short Term 12 was unbelievably simple and if you haven’t seen it, find a way.
Inside Llewyn Davis starred a cat.

There’s still much to see (and Inside Llewyn Davis does require a full review), but I need to preface this review with some of the year’s best to convince you that I can afford to be a little picky here. So let’s move on to tonight’s picture: American Hustle.american-hustle-poster-636-380
Despite what you may have been told, American Hustle is not a mob movie, or a con movie, or a sting movie.
In fact, it’s not a movie that cares much about plot or narrative at all.
This movie is about really great art design and unbelievably complex, stunning performances.
Which, frankly, disappointed me.

Look, I’m a cat. I prefer my movies to focus less on humans and more on cats. I mean narrative.

Essentially, American Hustle focuses on the Abscam scandal of the late ‘70s. Two con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) are forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to try and take down a New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) and some other top dogs.  It’s a great story and I wanted to know about it! Unfortunately, after seeing the film mere hours ago, I’m not quite sure I could provide more detail about the plot than I just did.

Now, a great story does not a great movie make. You’ve also got to have great characters and great actors to play them. Here, Russell hits a home run. Each of his stars are scene-stealers, and there are a few scenes that nearly steal the entire movie (the club scene with Adams and Cooper, Renner and Bale singing together in a bar, Robert DeNiro’s excellent cameo). Unfortunately, the actors are SO good, SO honest, and SO bold in their work, that nothing else felt important. When Jennifer Lawrence, who played Bale’s wild wife, was onscreen, I was smitten, but when she wasn’t, I didn’t quite know why the character needed to be so important. The stakes of the heist were low, and the consequences of each character’s actions didn’t feel risky. I felt enormous empathy but very little danger.

Perhaps David O. Russell likes his characters like I like my morning dry food—a little bit too much, a little bit too fast, and then vomited. (Maybe that’s just my food.)

It’s a good movie, but it’s not a great one.

As far as cats go, not to fear, cat-lovers!! We’ve got a few felines to feast your eyes upon (albeit briefly, and albeit in 70’s-era polaroids). One of the people who the schemers work with is a woman who controls the wires (which wires and for whom? Therein lies what I was saying about narrative holes). Anyway, in order to get on this woman’s good side, they give her fancy liquor and tea, and talk to her about her cats. She has lots of photos, and they all have names.

I know we’re supposed to laugh about the cat lady, but she and her photographed felines (one of whom was definitely named Barnaby and “likes to play the piano”) get a passable 30 points.Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 11.03.28 PM

I’m back to watching squirrels. G’night!

–Franny

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5 thoughts on “AMERICAN HUSTLE (and Greetings from the Rocky Mountains!)

  1. Pingback: Sometimes your cat reviews AMERICAN HUSTLE (and Greetings from the Rocky Mountains!) | rtcvers

  2. Pingback: American Hustle | Flick Advisor

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