Tag Archives: bradley cooper

Movie Review: American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle is an acting clinic.  In a year bereft of signature performances, Hustle has at least five.  David O. Russell has an ability to draw out of actors  the kind of brilliant performances that win Oscars and define careers.  So why is it that I never actually love his movies as a whole?

Hustle is a very loose retelling of the 1970’s ABSCAM scandal in which several members of Congress were caught by the FBI taking bribes to smooth the building of casinos in Atlantic City.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams are a team of con artists who get stung themselves by an FBI agent played by Bradley Cooper.  His offer: bag four cons for him and his bosses and they can walk.  The cons get out of control, though, as the targets get bigger and bigger encompassing the Mayor of Camden, NJ, (Jeremy Renner), Congressmen, Senators and the mafia.

Though Bale and Adams are partners in crime and in bed, Bale has a wife and a child.  In a film where the all the principals have been nominated for Oscars and three have already won, Jennifer Lawrence steals this movie in maybe five scenes as Bale’s beyond-description sexy psycho wife.  She’s so good it’s frightening.  In my profile of Angelina Jolie, I said there were no actresses that would pull me into a theater on project attachment alone, but that Lawrence was getting close.  She’s there.  I’ll see whatever she’s in.

Hers is not the only amazing performance though.  Can Amy Adams please have her Oscar now?  As Bale’s partner, Adams plays an insecure chameleon of a woman, adapting to any situation to survive.  She changes characters and accents sometimes multiple times in a scene seamlessly and despite trying desperately to project a fearless persona, makes her character extremely vulnerable and frightened to an almost child-like level.  Adams and Lawrence have one big scene where they go toe-to-toe and you are just watching two of the best women in the world in an acting showcase.

That Christian Bale was Batman last year is inconceivable to me, because the guy he plays in this movie can barely walk a flight a stairs without popping a nitro pill for his heart.  He’s fat, schlubby and has the most elaborately composed comb-over in cinematic history.  How many times can he drastically change his body weight for film roles?  I’m a little worried for his health, but the commitment he brings to the table permeates his work.  He’s the core of the film and he turns in a performance every bit as good as the one  that won him a statuette in The Fighter.

To say that Bradley Cooper is a step below the other three leads seems like a knock, but it’s just that he’s playing with giants and he’s just a really tall guy (metaphor getting away from me there).  Cooper’s FBI agent sees glory in ABSCAM and will not be denied in running the operation right through his supervisor (Louis CK).  I’m not sure why American Hustle is touted as a comedy, because it’s not as funny a movie as I think it wanted to be.  To me, it’s an overlong character showpiece that doesn’t quite gel as an overall story.  Despite the raves I’ve given the principals, I have really no desire to ever see it again, but I would watch every scene between Cooper and CK a hundred times just to watch CK try to tell his ice fishing story.

It’s easy to see why there’s so much hype surrounding this film.  Russell puts together a fantastic ensemble and places you firmly in the look and feel of the 1970’s.  To me, though, these amazing performances exist in a vacuum because the overall story never really coheses into something that hammers all of it home.  Do not miss the chance, though, to see some of the best performers in film, turn in quite possibly the four best performances of the year.
8.5/10 (on acting alone, phenomenal).

Guardians of the Galaxy Details from Director James Gunn *THOR 2 END CREDITS SCENE SPOILERS*

guardians of the galaxy, gamora, starlord, groot, rocket raccoon, drax

Thor 2 really gave movie goers their first taste of what the cosmos of the Marvel Universe is like.  The end credits sequence will be an enigma to all but the most rabid comic fans, but it sets up Guardians of the Galaxy and reveals what the ultimate point of the entire film saga will be in (presumably) Avengers 3.  We’ll give it a few more days, because it’s just been out two days in the states, before dissecting minutiae, but MTV recently talked to Guardians director James Gunn and he gave some interesting info on the August 2014 release.

“Everything else I’ve ever been through — failed relationships, failed films, failed friendships — everything I’ve ever done means nothing because I’ve just been created by God to make ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ for you folks.”

“I’m a very controlling guy. [Rocket Raccoon] is a big one for me, and I have very specific ideas about what Rocket Raccoon is like. [Bradley Cooper] lets me push him any which way to get where I want to go. He does not give up. He sits there in the studio all day long until his voice is sore and his eyes are bloodshot, and he’s bleeding from his nose and ears. But he’s turned in some good raccoon voices, so who cares?”

The director also confirmed that Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper are doing motion capture work for their characters in addition to voice acting.  Now this is your last chance if you don’t want to find out what the first of the two end credits sequences is about in Thor 2.

“I got the script that morning, and I did it in two hours at the end of a day of second unit shooting. That’s how this little bit came together with Benicio.”

“[Del Toro] is out there, man. He’s the best. We just kept watching him on set, being like, ‘Oh my God.’ He was probably the character who was most different from what I imagined. Although, I did say he’s like an outer-space Liberace. That’s what it says in the script, which he’s kind of doing. He really came in prepared and doing something utterly unique, and he’s mesmerizing the whole time he’s in the movie.”

He’s referring to The Collector, the villain Benicio del Toro will play in Guardians of the Galaxy.  As to what exactly his exchange meant, we’ll discuss that very soon.  Also soon, we’ll get to see some Guardians footage (according to Gunn).  Guardians of the Galaxy will release August 1st, 2014.


My Favorite Scene: The Hangover (2009)

It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when The Hangover was funny.  As we prepare for the final (please, God) installment of the least necessary trilogy since Beverly Hills Cop, it’s easy to forget that the first Hangover film is a hysterical spiraling nightmarish weekend of chaos.  It was very close between this and Zach Galifianakis aping the blackjack scene from Rain Man, but it’s The Tiger Song.  Fun fact, Ed Helms actually has a messed up tooth that he had the dental work for removed for the film (he had to go to a new dentist because the one who put it in refused to take it out).  So stay home and watch The Hangover on Blu Ray and don’t reward them for making another one, but you won’t listen to me.  If people did, there wouldn’t have been 74 Saw movies.

The Hangover, Ed Helms

Spielberg Will Next Direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper, Steven SpeilbergWith his long-delayed Robopocalypse now in development hell, Spielberg is moving on to direct the adaptation of American Sniper with Bradley Cooper in the lead.  I have to admit, I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s been on my radar.  It’s an intriguing choice and Cooper’s been on a roll lately.  Synopsis of the book below:

He is the deadliest American sniper ever, called “The Devil” by the enemies he hunted and “The Legend” by his Navy SEAL brothers. From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States Military history. The Pentagon has officially confirmed more then 150 of Kyle’s kills (the previous American record was 109), but it has declined to verify the astonishing total number for this book. Iraqi insurgents feared Kyle so much they named him Al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle earned a legendary status among his fellow SEALS, Marines, and U.S. Army soldiers, who he protected with deadly accuracy from rooftops and stealth positions. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences of all time. 

A native Texan who learned to shoot on childhood hunting trips with his father, Kyle was a champion saddle-bronc rider prior to joining the Navy. After 9/11, he was thrust into the front lines of the War of Terror, and soon found his calling as a world-class sniper who performed best under fire. In Fallujah, where he recorded a personal-record 2,100-yard kill shot, Kyle braved heavy fire to rescue a group of Marines trapped on the street; in Ramadi, he stared down insurgents with his pistol in close combat. Kyle talks honestly about the pain of war-of twice being shot and experiencing the tragic deaths of two close friends