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American Hustle (2013)
Most overrated film of 2013
I was really expecting a lot given all the hype. Wow, what an overrated movie. A lot of talented actors does not a good movie make.
First, the story itself is not all that interesting. You got this mayor in Camden, NJ who wants to invest in Atlantic City's casinos. Not really sure why he had to be from Camden as opposed to Atlantic City, but OK. Anyway, you end up with corruption, etc. but the whole thing looks to be engineered by the FBI. In the middle is a sleazy financier running a one-man one-woman what looks to be a Ponzi scheme. Why anyone would invest money with this guy I don't know, but I suppose it's barely possible.
Next, as uninteresting as the story was, you have a really weak script. The whole movie feels like going from scene to scene. It's disjointed and some scenes are way over the top. For example, in one scene Bradley Cooper starts screaming for no apparent reason, Amy Adams smack him with a picture frame for no apparent reason, and out of nowhere Christian Bale shows up with a gun. Another one: FBI guys partying like frat boys which felt 100% out of place.
Direction was generally OK except for the camera tilting to show Bradley Cooper's and Robert De Niro's hands when they were talking. Felt like something out of film school.
A little surprise at the end, but nothing memorable.
First, casting and acting in this cop series is excellent. I mean top notch. If you haven't seen Idris Elba's range, check out The Wire. The really creepy guys are really creepy; the a-holes are a-holes, and so forth to the tee.
Overall the plot is excellent in every episode except IMO the internal affairs stuff gets kind of old after a while. It makes you wonder if the Brit justice system is flawed or some of these IA guys are incompetent or more likely somebody didn't come up with a better plot. I like the setup: murder work and a side story like in the Mentalist, but like I said, there could have been something else besides IA (a la the Alice Morgan piece of the series which was brilliant).
What else? Well, how about expanding the series? This could easily have been a 12 episodes/season series, it's that good. Or even more - look at the Mentalist pushing the envelope with 20+ episodes.
Keep it real
The first two things I tell my clients are: keep it real and assume the audience is smart. What does 'real' mean? It depends on the genre but generally it means believable as in, "oh yeah, that could have happened" within the confines of the story, year/era and place.
So here we have a guy who just got out of prison. The first thing he does is go to a bar, have sex with the waitress and steal a car. OK so far. But then he drives it - a conspicuous muscle car - into Manhattan, smashes up a salon, gets back in the car, puts the pedal to the metal because there's bad guy after him, gets smashed up, runs away (really bad acting here), gets shot at, a double-decker comes out of nowhere and flips over, he gets shot at again at an even closer range but doesn't get hit, the gunman (who looks like his twin brother) stops shooting for some reason, he then steals a motorcycle just as it's pulling into a parking spot and gets away while the owner gets shot. Meanwhile not a single cop to be seen, in Manhattan, in a city with 35,000 cops.
All of this took place in 6 minutes of the first episode. And that's as far as I got.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
I started writing this review before the movie ended. WoW! Where do I start? Acting -- perfect. Casting -- prefect. Dialogue -- perfect. Plot -- perfect.
I did not see Jennifer Houston in the Hunger Games but I read the book and see how she would be very good for that role. I now see why she is a superstar: in addition to her superb acting, I have to say she's one of the hottest girls on the planet! IMO the combination of brains and beauty is perhaps the most wonderful of spectacles in the universe.
We expect the big names to deliver and he did, I mean De Niro. I can confidently say that Bradley Cooper is now a star (in terms of acting versatility).
Shea Whigham -- great in Machete, Boardwalk Empire and here as well; a very promising future. Jacki Weaver, boy was she wonderful. Julia Styles, loved her in The Bourne Ultimatum -- smart and sexy -- want to see her in more movies. Who else? Anupam Kher!! 100% great!
As a side note, I think Jennifer's somewhat Gothic look in the movie better suits her than the most recent pictures I saw on IMDb from the Golden Globes.
I'm pretty sure this is my favorite movie I've seen in the past year. 10/10.
I've seen some other comments about the (new) British Sherlock Holmes. I watched an episode and in my opinion Elementary is better. The problem I have with the former is too much focus on deducing clues from appearance along the lines of "you have a dimple on your coat, therefore you must have been in an argument with a woman not long ago" and such improbabilities. I found it slightly annoying in the book as well at times.
What I really like about Elementary is the mystery. The twists and turns are excellent a-la the Mentalist. Great writing. Acting is good all around. I think Lucy Liu / Watson is limited in her role. IMO the show would be better if she were to contribute more to solving mysteries. She's cast as a smart former doctor so why is she not helping out more? There was actually a time or two when Sherlock made medical deductions and statements and she didn't say anything. Who's the doctor?? So, overall it's a good series and I hope to see many seasons in the future; just would like Watson to play a bigger contribution.
Django Unchained (2012)
Tarantino needs an editor
Overall great movie. No question Tarantino is in the upper echelon of movie makers. The problem is the lack of editing.
Let me start by saying that the star of this movie is Leonardo DiCaprio. Everyone else did their job very well. Waltz did fine but his mannerisms were tailor-made for Inglorious Basterds. Foxx -- yeah, not bad at all. But DiCaprio was just tremendous, as memorable as in Titanic. I wasn't sure, but now I'm certain he's a versatile and just awesome actor. Oh, and Samuel Jackson was also amazing. Wow!
That gets me to my point: the movie should have ended when DiCaprio was killed and have Jackson die at the same time. They were the standout characters. So all that shooting afterward was just pointless IMO.
Tarantino is perhaps a bit like Billy Walsh in Entourage where heavy editing is needed but Walsh always believes that everything he does is art and can't be tampered with in any way. Actually, there's not heavy editing needed here. I do believe Tarantino is a movie genius. It just should have ended earlier; everything else was perfect. Same goes for Inglorious Basterds -- perfect, but why have the 70s font for credits at the end? That needed a German Nazi font!
Would have been a 10 but can't go above an 8. Looking forward to the next Tarantino hit.
Roger Moore is still the best Bond
It was worth the ticket price but it didn't surpass my expectations.
There were a few clever lines by Bond and the motorcycle chase scene was very good. That's what I remember most about the film. The acting was fine, the cinematography and direction excellent, yet at the end of the film I still wasn't wowed. Why? It wasn't so much that the plot was bad, but rather too many of the scenes left me wondering, "Huh, how did he do that?", especially in reference to the bad guy.
As a side note, I understand that the Bond franchise is all about moving forward and I'm not saying that Daniel Craig or any of the new faces aren't good, but IMO Roger Moore brought out the best of what Bond is all about in a very particular British way. He didn't need to be buff, he was just more clever, with humor.
Better than ANTM
Since America's Next Top Model starting getting too ghetto I was on the lookout for something more professional. This filled the void. The caliber of the contestants is much higher than ANTM although I think overall the women picked were deficient in the brain department compared to men.
Mary Alice is an excellent host and Ben Stein was surprisingly very good for this role (his monotone plays well here). I liked most of the contestants. Again, some of the girls are real bimbos. As for the guys, the biggest poser was Andre who keeps saying he is Russian and Soviet to appear tough but it turned out he is neither one (presumably he is ashamed to be Romanian).
Too bad there was only one season. Overall very entertaining.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)
Here I was getting ready to spend an evening laughing my ass off. What do I get instead? A drama with absolutely nothing funny about it. A gross misrepresentation of the stated genre.
And while on the subject, when was the last time someone made a good comedy without all the superfluous drama? The only recent ones I can recall are 21 Jump Street and The Dictator. The world really does need more of these types of films.
In any case, as a non-comedy, this movie is actually not bad at all and I would otherwise had given it a 7/10. The acting and direction are quite good but the story is just a bit too sappy IMO.
Super Shark (2011)
Another reviewer said it was not quite "laughably bad", just "bad bad". I disagree. It's so bad that it became a comedy, although admittedly that was not the intention of the writer or director.
I also want to add that after seeing this movie, whenever you think low budget, this movie will forever be IT.
Despite the horrendous acting from most, Sara Lieving and John Schneider actually do a good job. I am just kidding. The best actor is the shark.
So, the next time you can't find a good comedy, just look up the other work of this movie's writer and director.