Friday, August 8, 2014
American Hustle, loosely based on the Abscam scandal of the 1970's, gives all of its actors something to do and, more importantly, something to say. The performances are all top-notch, especially an almost unrecognizable Christian Bale as an overweight con-man with his own code of ethics and Amy Adams as his partner in crime. The plot sags a bit in the middle under the weight of all those conversations, but regains its jauntiness as the end draws near. Someone should sign Russell and company up for a remake of The Front Page/His Girl Friday, stat. He's one of a few modern directors who could successfully replicate the rat-a-tat dialogue direction of Howard Hawks. Highly recommended.
Still, there are some killer sequences parodying both the specific and the general in Hitchcock's films, from some complicated camerawork under a glass coffee table to a ridiculous riff on Janet Leigh's driving problems in Psycho. And there are killer performances, none moreso than Cloris Leachman as a nurse/dominatrix with truly peculiar line-readings and physical mannerisms. Recommended.
Great lines, great acting, fine direction from Walter Huston's son John, and the crazed jig forever after known as the Walter Huston dance. And the badges line, often misquoted. And a wild, realistic barroom brawl. One of the first big-budget Hollywood movies to be filmed almost entirely on location. If there are essential movies, this is one of them. Highly recommended.