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Category Archives: Drama Movie Reviews

All the Money in the World (2017)


All the Money in the World (2017)

When I think of All the Money in the World, it is hard not to think about everything that happened with Kevin Spacey and the bad publicity that surrounded this film because of him.  It is my understanding that the movie was just about completed when the news came out about his sexual allegations.

(This is my review of All the Money in the World, but I feel that it is important to talk first about the cloud of negativity that hovered over this movie before its release.  There is a certain amount of hypocrisy that has been a part of the Hollywood machine for many years.  It still is today).

I think that the producers of the movie agreed that All the Money in the World was guaranteed to bomb at the box office because of Spacey.  So how did they resolve this problem?  The same way that Netflix resolved their Spacey problem with the infamous House of Cards firing, they cut him out of the film completely.  They brought Christopher Plummer in to replace him.  Then they had to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes with Plummer instead.  How that will pan out with the Netflix Original Series House of Cards is yet to be seen, but that is a topic for a different day.

Spacey was originally billed second.  His character was a big deal to the film.  They had to bring in the other actors and redo a good chunk of the whole movie so that they could replace him.  This all had to be done with only weeks remaining until the film was due to be released!

I read that it took about 9 days to completely reshoot the necessary scenes to cut Kevin Spacey completely out of All the Money in the World.  That is insane if you think about it.  Ridley Scott did what they thought would be impossible to try to salvage the film.

Now, if that was not enough, more controversy instantly surfaced about the reshoots.  Apparently, Walhberg negotiated that he would get paid somewhere in the millions of dollars if he had to film any extra scenes.  He has a good agent and he is one of the highest paid actors out there, so this comes as no surprise right?  Wrong.  To stir things up more, now all of a sudden, people were complaining because he got paid far more than Michelle Williams or any of the other actors for his reshoots.  They were paid thousands and he was paid millions.  The complaint was that there should be closer to equal pay for all involved.

I am all for women’s rights.  I am glad that they were able to erase Spacey from this film because of his sexual misconduct.  They should have cracked down on all of that years ago.  We all know, and they all know that people in power in Hollywood have been taking advantage of that power for far too long and nothing has really been done about it until recently.

However, I believe in the free market.  People should be able to negotiate their worth.  They get paid for what they contribute.  The superstars get paid more because they bring more to the table.  That is how it always has been and how it always should be.  If you want to look at equal pay between men and women in Hollywood, I think you need to look deeper into the fact that Hollywood treats women like objects.  Hollywood writers do not write many quality roles for women.  Instead women are seen as window dressing and men are made out to be the heroes.  That is not a problem with the actors or actresses.  That is a problem with the filmmakers, and ultimately the big production companies that have gotten big for a reason, because they know how to make money.

What does Mark Wahlberg do when he hears that many people believe that he got overpaid and he is looked at as being part of the problem?  Marky Mark turns around and donates all of the extra millions of dollars that he made for reshoots to “Time’s Up” in Michelle Williams name.

All of the Money in the World is based on true events.  It is about a teenage boy who is kidnapped and held for ransom because his grandfather is the richest man in the world.  The grandfather will not pay the ransom, and the boy’s mother is forced to do whatever is in her power to try to get her son back.

The movie was directed by Ridley Scott and the noteworthy cast includes Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Charlie Shotwell, Andrew Buchan, and Marco Leonardi.

Ridley Scott generally knows how to get a film done right.  He has got the process down.  Sometimes the expectation is higher than the outcome, however.  This is the case with this movie.  It is well made to a point.  It jumps around a lot.  Usually that is OK to tell a story, but it makes this film feel a little choppy.  It also seems to take away from how we feel about the characters in the story.  We are not given much of a chance to really like and care about the people in the movie.  If we do not care much about the characters, then we do not care much about what happens to them.

I think that this disconnect exists in the movie because it is in fact, based on true events.  They follow the story line of what happened in real life, but they do not give you much reason to like the characters.  This strongly takes away from how good the movie could be.  It is good up to a point, without the possibility of being better.

Christopher Plummer got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this movie.  He was part of the film for 9 days of reshoots.  With all of the chaos that surrounded All the Money in the World, it seems like Hollywood was just throwing the movie a bone when they nominated Plummer for an Oscar.  He is a solid actor and he was good in this film, but not Oscar good.  Not even close.  I think that this is a case of Hollywood trying to recoup their investment and show praise for Ridley Scott’s ability to get the job done that needed to get done.  If there is an Oscar nomination of any kind for a movie, it pretty much guarantees that people will see it.  It is sort of like the media.  They tell you what they want you to hear.  In this case, they tell you what they want you to watch.

I cannot help but wonder, what the other version of the film with Spacey was like.  With my tainted view of him as an actor at this point, I would have hated the movie.  It was definitely the right thing to do replacing him.  I used to be big fan of Spacey, but it is amazing how quickly your view of someone changes once their true colors bleed through.

Overall, the movie was good, but not that good.  It is an interesting true story that was certainly worth telling.  It felt rushed, because it actually was rushed.  I feel that with more thought placed on character development, the movie could have been a lot better.

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Captain Phillips (2013)

John Q. (2002)

Proof of Life (2000)

Hostage (2005)

Inside Man (2006)

The Negotiator (1998)

Ransom (1996)

Broken City (2013)

Lone Survivor (2013)

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Death Wish (2018)


Death Wish (2018)

Why do we like vigilante justice?  I think that it is because someone does exactly what we are thinking should be done or we would like to do, ourselves.  Also, vigilante justice in the movies is often portrayed as sticking up for ones that cannot stick up for themselves.  If you are like me, then you enjoy rooting for the underdog.

Death Wish is about a doctor who decides to take matters into his own hands after an attack on his family.  He decides to find the men responsible and serve up his own form of vigilante justice.

The movie was directed by Eli Roth and the noteworthy cast includes Bruce Willlis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris, Camila Morrone, Beau Knapp, Kimberly Elise, Len Cariou, Jack Kesy, and Ronnie Gene Blevins.

I am not usually one to be into remakes.  It seems like Hollywood remakes or reboots just about everything these days.  Often, I say leave well enough alone, but sometimes the right remake idea comes along and the right actor is cast in the lead role.

In this case, Willis was very fitting for the role in Death Wish.  It was his best performance since Looper (2012).  He has been making a lot of B-rated straight to DVD movies lately, so it is nice to see him return to his former glory.  I am glad to see that he has not gone the way of Nicolas Cage (spitting out one piece of trash after the next).  Death Wish is a one-man-show and Bruce was clearly up for the task.

This movie is a scary concept because of how realistic it is.  What I mean by that is that it shows just how worthless the police department and justice system can be sometimes.  Too often, it is the people that deserve to see justice be done, that are the ones stuck without any justice at all.  It also goes to show just how vulnerable we all are.

The likable Dean Norris has quickly been typecast as the police or detective type thanks to the success of the television series Breaking Bad.  His part in this movie is good, but it does quickly make you think of Breaking Bad.

There are a few noticeable gruesome scenes in this movie that had Roth’s signature all over it.  So far, I believe that this film is Roth’s best work as a director.  He did a terrific job setting the tone of Death Wish and sticking with it throughout.

It has been a very long time since I have seen the original Death Wish (1974), but watching this version has made me want to go back and watch the original sometime soon.  The new film is a quality remake done with today’s technology.  The original movie is now 44 years old and it shows its age.

This movie is a murky suspense/thriller with good old fashioned popcorn-popping action.  Willis as the protagonist doing bad for good reasons will keep you on the edge of your seat hoping that justice gets done.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Death Wish (1974)

Death Sentence (2007)

The Brave One (2007)

The Boondock Saints (1999)

Man on Fire (2004)

The Equalizer (2014)

The Punisher (2004)

Sin City (2005)

Harry Brown (2009)

RED (2010)

RED 2 (2013)

John Wick (2014)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Prisoners (2013)

Defendor (2009)

Wonder (2017)


Wonder (2017)

I think you have to be in the right mood to watch this kind of movie.  You know that you are going to feel bad for the main character.  In a way, you feel their pain, so to speak.  It’s the kind of story that makes you appreciate your life more because you realize that no matter how hard you may feel like you have it sometimes, there is always someone out there that has it way worse.  This I could grasp just from watching the trailer.

Wonder is about a previously homeschooled boy with a facial disfigurement who faces the challenge of going to a normal school for the first time.

You have to prepare yourself mentally to watch this movie, because you know it is not going to be fun, exciting entertainment.  It is going to be blunt and in your face honest.  It is going to evoke emotion and make you think.  It is not necessarily an escape from the outside world, like most films are.  Instead, it is more of a reminder of what things are really like.  That makes this a solid movie because it is more real.

The movie was directed by Stephen Chbosky and the noteworthy cast includes Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, Izabela Vidovic, Mandy Patinkin, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Elle Mckinnon, Daveed Diggs, Ty Consiglio, and Danielle Rose Russell.

The story of Wonder was told in chapters.  Each chapter is a different characters perspective.  I like that because it allows you to get into the mind of each character in a way that you otherwise might not be able to.  It makes the storytelling more interesting

For those of you who have ever been an outcast, this film is for you.  Childhood is hard.  School is harder.  Now, imagine that your face is deformed.  Kids are mean.

Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts played their parts well as loving parents.

Jacob Tremblay did a wonderful job as the boy with a disfigured face.  He is pretty talented for only being 10 years old when this movie was being made.  This kid is only 11 years old and has already been in 8 films and has 3 more on deck.

The movie is pretty predictable at times, but it does tug at the heartstrings.  The film is rated PG, so it is a pretty wholesome and clean movie.  A nice one to watch with the family.  It is a warm-hearted movie about how the struggles of life bring us closer together when we overcome adversity.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

The Cure (1995)

Rudy (1993)

Stand By Me (1986)

The Man Without a Face (1993)

The Post (2017)


The Post (2017)

Steven Spielberg directing Hanks, Streep, Odenkirk, Greenwood, Plemons, and Brie should make a lot of money and be a high quality movie, right?

The film is about The Washington Post Newspaper it 1971.  It chronicles how the press defies the government as they want to release loads of classified documents pertaining to the Vietnam War.

The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg and the noteworthy cast includes Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Zach Woods, and Michael Stuhlberg.

The Post is dry as the desert sand.  Bright, but also burned out.

The movie was a little hard to follow in the beginning.  It has a slow start.  Almost every scene seemed drawn out.  Because some of the scenes drag on, it takes away from the storyline.  You either lose interest and it makes it harder to remember small details that do not matter until later on.

Like many political dramas, the stars come out to play.  However, often there are too many stars in the sky, so to speak.  There is not enough movie to go around.  That is exactly the case with this film.  There was this kind of detachment from the main characters.

Odenkirk was probably the most entertaining part of the film and it felt like he was hardly in it.  Hanks was likable, but his performance was nothing special.  Streep’s character started to develop about halfway through.  I feel like the movie had plenty of time for us to become attached to the characters, but it just never gets there.

The entertainment value that we have come to expect from a Spielberg directed film, was hard to find.  The spark was just was not present.  The scenery was great.  It felt like the right time and place that it was depicting.  There was not a shortage of acting ability.  The Post just falls short of all expectations.

It is a likable overrated, underachieving, sluggish, and detached film.  It is worth a one-time rental.

 

I rate this movie a 6 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Lincoln (2012)

Chappaquiddick (2017)

Bobby (2006)

Doubt (2008)

Lions for Lambs (2007)

JFK (1991)

All the President’s Men (1976)

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)


Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Dark humor in an edgy looking story jammed packed with character actors galore.  Why wouldn’t I want to see this film?

The movie is about a broken woman whose daughter had been raped and murdered less than a year earlier and the crime is still unsolved.  She decides to purchase advertisements on three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri, essentially publically calling the police out for not doing their jobs.  This gets the attention of the police station and stirs things up around town.

The film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh and the noteworthy cast includes Frances Mcdormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Christopher Berry, John Hawkes, Clarke Peters, and Darrell Brit-Gibson.

The casting is superb.  The characters are excellent.  Rockwell and Harrelson are likable jerks (as they often are).  They play their parts well.  Mcdormand steals the show with her best performance in years.

The multiple characters stories join together well in a web of darkness.  The movie allows its cast to take their time to develop their characters in an overly dysfunctional drama.  They really did not disappoint.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is a blunt force.  It has the right amount of dark humor carefully thrown into the mix to break up the brutal honesty of the film.

This film is a miserably twisted tale that goes to some dark places.  You can really feel the pain and anguish on screen.  However, it leaves those places leaving you feeling better about the whole thing afterwards.

There is more cussing in this film than I have heard in a newer film for a while.  The dialogue and writing are top notch.  I enjoyed how the film did not really edit itself.  It may not be much for the politically correct crowd.  If you cannot handle harsh language, this movie is not for you.  Given some of the horrible situations in this film, I feel that the language was justified and also more realistic.  It served as another tool to get the point across.

The movie pushes the boundaries on what you expect.  Lots of surprises keep you guessing throughout.  It’s witty and charming, but in a dysfunctional, hellish way.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Fargo (1996)

North Country (2005)

The Way, Way Back (2013)

Mr. Right (2015)

Choke (2008)

Matchstick Men (2003)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

Triple 9 (2016)

Zombieland (2009)

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)


The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

The legendary Clint Eastwood took a big risk casting the actual people that his film is about to star in it.  This concept immediately sparked my interest enough for me to be really excited about seeing The 15:17 to Paris.

I intentionally did not watch much of the trailer for this film, nor did I read anything about it.  This is because I vaguely remembered hearing about this story, watching the news and reading about what happened after this event took place, not too long ago.  I did not remember a lot of what happened and I did not want to spoil the movie by knowing all about it beforehand.

With all of the vile stories of terrorism and mass-murder we hear happening all over the news in this crazy world that we live in, it’s nice to recognize the heroes that fight back against the evil that is unleashed around them.  That is what The 15:17 to Paris is.  It is a story about the ones that fought back to try to protect their fellow man because they were not about to go down without a fight.  This movie is the story of three friends who grew up together and how they happened to be on a train to Paris at the time of a gruesome terrorist attack aimed at everyone on board.

The movie was based on the book by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Jeffrey E. Stern.  It was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.

The cast includes the three men the film is about: Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos.  The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer, P.J. Byrne, Thomas Lennon, Tony Hale, Jaleel White, and Steve Coulter.

I heard that initially the MPAA rating system wanted to make the movie rated R.  This upset Eastwood and he had to raise a big fuss to win the PG-13 rating.  I’m not sure if any scenes were cut from the film to achieve the PG-13 rating, but I found no reason that there should’ve been an R rating.  There was hardly any swearing, no nudity, and only some violence.  The violence was not excessive and was very necessary to tell the story accurately.  Nothing else warranted an R rating.  Could it be a way of censoring Eastwood’s film so less people could see it?  That will likely never be revealed, but I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood for pulling a move like that.  Good old Clint!  Always fighting for what he thinks is right.  He doesn’t care if Hollywood doesn’t back him.  He has built an astounding career on getting his movies made no matter what.  In a lot of ways, he is that powerful protagonist character that he has portrayed on screen so many times.  I think he felt that this story needed to be told and he wanted the perspective of the real people to make it more accurate.

The film is not going to win any awards for its acting.  These three men are not actors.  These are real people.  Realizing this fact while watching the movie actually made it more powerful.  It made me approach my view of the movie in a different way.  It doesn’t matter that the dialogue was not delivered by seasoned actors.  This is an obvious detail in Eastwood’s vision.  It simply matters that their story was told.  Who better to tell it than the real people themselves?

The 15:17 to Paris depicts an incredible true story of heroism and courage.

The movie is not loaded with action and special effects.  It sheds light on a story that a lot of people didn’t pay much attention to.  It reminds us of the good in people.  Humanity in helping others because that is the right thing to do.  These men didn’t think twice about their own safety.  They just did what they had to do.

I watched this film two nights ago and I have thought about it since.  The more that I think about it, the more I like it.  You are not going to leave the movie in awe.  However, it will make you contemplate what you saw.  Maybe you will be more grateful for what you have.

 

I rate this movie a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

American Sniper (2014)

Lone Survivor (2013)

World Trade Center (2006)

Captain Phillips (2013)

12 Strong (2018)

United 93 (2006)

The Battle of the Sexes (2017)


The Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Although I did not live during the time that this film is supposed to have taken place, I knew a little bit about the battle of the sexes.  OK, all I really knew was that men and women played tennis against each other in the 1970s to prove which sex was better at sports.  I did not know any specifics.  I knew nothing.

The movie is a true story about how the best women’s tennis player, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former men’s tennis champion, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) come to play an exhibition tennis match against each other for the battle of the sexes in 1973.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Andrea Riseborough, Bill Pullman, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Jessica McNamee, Austin Stowell, Wallace Langham, Lewis Pullman (son of Bill Pullman), and James Mackay.

The movie was written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

The Battle of the Sexes was very formulaic and predictable.  However, it was a true story that I was truly unfamiliar with.  An exhibition tennis match suddenly becomes a fight for equal pay and equal rights.  It is a feel-good film about working to right a wrong in society.  The movie is an exploration in sexism and surprisingly, sexuality.

This would have been a great time to experience in American History.  To witness this symbolic tennis match (even just on TV), would’ve been witnessing an important time for women’s rights.

The movie does a good job showing just how slanted peoples’ views of men and women were back in the 1970s.  Even though lots of people believe that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to equals rights for all, this film is definitely a big reminder that we have come a long way.

Emma Stone and Steve Carell were superb pitted against each other (as they were together in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011).  The costume design in the movie was excellent.  Stone and Carell looked very much like the people they were portraying.  So much so, that it was a little scary.  The 1970s was recreated very artistically down to every detail.

The movie had a nice recipe of goofy humor, and serious drama.  Like many sports films, it was quite predictable.  It is a formula that we have seen 100 times and it doesn’t get old.  We still enjoy watching the underdog.  It’s a David and Goliath story.  Danielle and Goliath, if you will.

 

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Invincible (2006)

Rocky (1976)

The Natural (1984)

Rudy (1993)

Gangster Squad (2013)

Zombieland (2009)

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)


A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Poster

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)

I had never even heard of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints until I rented Charlie Countryman (2013) at the Redbox.  When you rent Charlie Countryman, you get A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints as a bonus movie.  They give you a two-for-one, a double sided disc for the price of one movie.  It’s a Shia LaBeouf double feature.  They are both indie films.  This was all the more intriguing to me, so I watched each movie the other night.  You can guess what one of my next reviews will be.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Group

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was based on the book with the same title.  Surprisingly enough, the man who wrote the book, Dito Montiel, also directed the movie.  The movie is a film adaptation of Dito Montiel’s life growing up in Astoria, New York in the 1980s.  The story is a look into a messed up childhood in a rough part of the city.  It follows the struggles of inner city teenagers, Dito (Shia LaBeouf plays young Dito, and Robert Downey Jr. plays grown up Dito) and his friends as they are becoming adults.  The circle of friends are pitted against drugs, violence, sex, love, hate, loss, and hardship.  All the while, Dito wants to escape New York and try to make a better life for himself somewhere else.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz, Martin Compston, Scott Michael Campbell, Anthony DeSando, Adam Scarimbolo, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Laila Liliana Garro, and Eric Roberts.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Downey Jr. Dawson

I’m surprised that this movie got past me 8 years ago, because the cast is excellent.  I should have been aware of this film earlier.  It’s another low-budget independent film that slipped through the cracks.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was hard to watch, at times, but it was also hard to stop watching.  The film was an excellent depiction of how rundown certain areas of the country can be and how it affects the people living there.  It’s indeed unfortunate, but it’s in-your-face honesty.  Some people won’t be able to handle the honesty of this movie.  The trashy characters, obscene language and other vulgarity, along with the sex, nudity, and mindless violence, among other things, will be too much for some.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints LaBeouf

But, you have to take the sweet from the sour.  There is indeed a silver lining in this story.  The headlining actors in this film are exceptional.  The movie makes you feel like you are in the slums with the characters experiencing it all.  The actors portray a remarkable friendship and camaraderie that helps you come back to the reality that people often try to be good even if they are bad.

The story is rigid and rocky, but the writing and acting make it all worthwhile.  Here is an unknown gem for those who are willing to give it a chance.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Tatum Palminteri

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

If you liked A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, you might also enjoy the following movies:

White House Down (2013)

The Company You Keep (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

The Big Wedding (2013)

Stuck in Love (2012)

Flight (2012)

Prisoners (2013)

Wrecked (2010)

Mud (2012)

The Iceman (2012)

American Hustle (2013)


American Hustle Poster

American Hustle (2013)

Back in August of 2013, when I first heard about American Hustle, this was my viewpoint on it:

David O. Russell has taken 3 stars from his film Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and 2 stars from his film The Fighter (2010), and brought all 5 of them together to make a movie.  If The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook had a baby, it would be named American Hustle.

Not only is this film a guaranteed Oscar contender, but it will likely be amazing.

I have been excited about seeing American Hustle ever since.

American Hustle Cooper Adams Bale

What do you get when you cross two conniving con artists, a crazy FBI agent, corrupt politicians and the mob?  The answer, American Hustle.  Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) have developed an excellent partnership of swindling desperate people out of their money.  Everything is going great until one day, a power hungry FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) catches the couple in his web.  In order to keep from going to prison, Irving and Sydney are forced to work with the FBI to try to help bring down other criminals.  One thing leads to another and they find themselves butting heads with the mafia.  The beauty of it all is that you can’t tell who is conning who.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Robert De Niro, and Paul Herman.

I have to say that I loved the trailer for this movie.  It tells you what the movie is about without telling you much about the movie at all.  They leave a lot to the imagination.  It was refreshing.  You get excited to see the movie because of the cast of characters and how they are acting, but you are dying to know what the movie is really about.  In this day and age, this is a risky concept because there are multiple movies out there that appear like they are about nothing because their trailer does not tell you much, and when you go to watch them they are pointless.  Their secrecy sucks you in, but in reality they weren’t keeping a secret.  They just really suck and you just wasted your time.  American Hustle is not like that, at all.  There is far more to this film than the trailer leads you to believe.

I did not expect there to be as much humor as there was.  The movie was laugh-out-loud hilarious.  It was very smart, well thought out dark humor.

American Hustle Cooper Bale

The film oozed with elegance.  Everything about the movie seemed classy.  It was clean and crisp.  The colors were so clear and bright.  From a filmmaking aspect alone, the movie was perfection.  Picture that, but then throw in some of the best actors in the business into a flawlessly put together movie.

So, now you have a diamond of a movie with a cast that is worth its weight in gold.  What do you get now?  Fireworks.  American Hustle recreates the 70s believably and the soundtrack is there to prove it.  The actors play the game like the all-stars that they are.  The chemistry was electrifying between everybody.  The actors kept one-upping each other.

Chistian Bale, with a porky belly and the cheapest comb over imaginable stood out among the rest.  His performance was not surprising, but it was every bit as good as anything he has ever done before.  His performance was not surprising because he has been acting at such a high level for such a long time, that it’s hard to expect anything less out of him.  His acting was power and precision.  For a long time now, Johnny Depp has been my favorite actor and Bale has been my second favorite.  I think Bale just surpassed Depp.  Dare I say, lately he is more consistently in better movies.  Bale is capable of almost any role and he proves it time and time again.  I have not seen all of the movies that are up for Academy Awards, but as of right now, Bale gets my vote for Best Actor, and he should be competing against himself for Out of the Furnace (2013)(that movie was snubbed), as well.

American Hustle Adams Bale

Speaking of Academy Awards, Amy Adams.  She was absolutely wonderful in American Hustle.  She was stylish and sophisticated.  Instead of being dressed down, like she was in The Fighter, her beauty was really able to shine through to her core.  She played a woman who was always in control and it was the best performance by an actress that I have seen since perhaps, Hilary Swank in the film Million Dollar Baby (2004).  It certainly was Amy’s best film that I have seen to date.  It was even better than her performance in The Fighter.

Bradley Cooper had more curlers in his hair than Amy Adams.  He pulled it off though and it was funny.  He brought a level of insanity to his role in American Hustle that showed similarities to Silver Linings Playbook.  He was allowed his moments to shine, but you could tell he was along for the ride in the back seat behind Bale.  Amy Adams was riding shotgun and Jennifer Lawrence was in the back seat behind her, sitting next to Cooper.

Jennifer Lawrence seemed to pick up right where she left off in Silver Linings Playbook.  She was the broken housewife with an attitude and an appetite for wreaking havoc and turmoil.  I thought she played the part about as well as she did in Silver Linings Playbook.

American Hustle Lawrence

David O. Russell has come a long way since Flirting With Disaster (1996) and I Heart Huckabees (2004).  He took a page right out of Martin Scorsese’s book by having multiple narrators in American Hustle.  The movie actually was very Scorsese-esque.  Russell’s last three films have all been Oscar contenders and American Hustle is as deserving of an Oscar as either of the other two.  My only concern is that this movie gets screwed out of the Academy Awards that it rightfully deserves for the sake of diversity.

This film was like the acting all-star game of 2013.

I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Note: I usually do not rate a movie a 10 after the first showing, but I could not find anything wrong with this movie.  I thought that it might drag on a little bit because of the 138 minutes running time, but it didn’t.  It was just an exercise in excellence.  I am often reluctant to give a movie a 10 rating right away because I think that it should prove the test of time.  I think this one already did.

If you liked American Hustle, then you will most likely enjoy the following films:

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

The Machinist (2004)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Prisoners (2013)

Broken City (2013)

The Counselor (2013)

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Wrecked (2010)


Wrecked Poster

Wrecked (2010)

Wrecked is a low budget independent film that may have exceeded expectations if given the proper opportunity.

Before watching this movie, I knew nothing about it except for the fact that Adrien Brody was the main character.  I have been a big fan of Brody ever since I saw the film The Pianist (2002).  He acted his heart out in that movie and I quickly came to find out that he usually does in all of his films.  It’s no wonder that he received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Pianist.

Wrecked Brody Bloody Face

Wrecked is about a man (Adrien Brody) who awakes to find himself badly injured in a mangled car wreck in the middle of a densely wooded area at the base of a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  He has no memory of how he got there, who he is, or who the dead passengers nearby are.  He is stuck inside of the car and is forced to try to survive as he contemplates his past and how he got into his current situation.

The film was directed by Michael Greenspan and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Caroline Dhavernas, Ryan Robbins, Adrian G. Griffiths, Adrian Holmes, and Jacob Blair.

I listed the rest of the noteworthy cast, but in reality Wrecked is a one-man show.  The vast majority of the movie is Adrien Brody acting alone.  The movie has some similarities to 127 Hours (2010), All is Lost (2013), The Edge (1997) and Unknown (2006).

It takes a highly talented actor to make a film like this watchable, let alone entertaining.  Brody was up for the challenge and he was a superb choice for this role.  The pain that his character felt in in the movie appeared genuine in every way.  You feel for his character as if the events that are happening to him on screen are actually happening.

The film is pretty gruesome and intense.  There is a bit of language throughout, but it all serves to make the story more realistic.

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Unfortunately, I think that this movie is underrated and under watched.  It didn’t get the chance that it deserved in theatres.

The movie grabs on to you in the very beginning and keeps you guessing what will happen next.  It is slow at times, but that is to be expected when there is basically only one person in the film.  The suspense holds your attention throughout as Adrien Brody’s character is injured in the wild and facing what the wilderness has in store for him.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

If you liked Wrecked, then you will probably enjoy the following films:

127 Hours (2010)

All is Lost (2013)

Trance (2013)

The Edge (1997)

Unknown (2006)

Buried (2010)

Brake (2012)