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Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell 
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Post Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
This is a year where a very large portion of famous directors are releasing their new works. And it makes me realize that I have not seen as many works of the well-regarded, contemporary directors as I would have liked. So I set myself up to go through many of the directors' stuff that I've seen mentioned times and times before, but never get around to watch them and "be in the know" myself. Hopefully after a series of these threads, I can finally praise Paul Thomas Anderson to high heaven or get so sick of Wes Anderson's style that I'd automatically puke when his name comes up :) .

What I mean by underseen: I've never watched any of their works; I've only seen a few of them; or I watched less than half of their stuff if the filmography is a long one.

First one up: David O. Russell. Silver Linings Playbook is the only one I have seen.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:15 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
I'd recommend you see Three Kings as that's easily his finest work, though i'd recommend you stay far away from I Heart Huckabees as it's excrucatingly unfunny with not a single likeable character to be found.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:17 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
I'm committed so I will see all of their works, but I've definitely heard about how divisive that one is.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:20 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Three Kings divisive? I thought most people loved it. I know I do. I agree that it's Russell's best movie.

If you want to see a David O. Russell movie that is divisive then watch I Heart Huckabees. Now THAT is divisive. Personally, I loved it. The cast is great and it's very funny. People say that the movie doesn't really make much sense, but isn't that kind of the point? It's making fun of the philosophical/spiritual mumbo jumbo that the movie delves into. And Mark Wahlberg really gives one of his loosest and just flat out best performances in the movie.

And The Fighter is really great too.


I must admit that I have yet to see Flirting with Disaster and Spanking the Monkey. But I have loved every one of his other movies.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:32 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
peng wrote:
I'm committed so I will see all of their works, but I've definitely heard about how divisive that one is.

How exactly is a 94% metacritic score "Divisive"? :?

My issue with Huckabees wasn't that it didn't make sense, my main issue is that it just wasn't funny. Almost every single joke fell flatter then a week old pancake.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:34 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
I was referring to Huckabees when I said of "divisive", as Vexer has mentioned it in his post, but yeah I should have been clearer.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:39 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
If you liked Silver Lining Playbook then you will definitely like American Hustle

Those are my two very favourites (in fact I love them) from him

Three Kings was entertaining but not as good as the mentioned above

The Fighter was a bit overrated for my taste

I have not seen any other from him (he only has 10 tittles and he seemed outcast by Hollywood between 2004 and 2010)

He initially had a reputation for actors of being a Director tough to work for but after an hiatus of 6 years , then he came back and in the last three years he turned this reputation to the Director to work for (if you are looking for Oscars) lol. He seems that at this point that he knows how to bring the best out his actors by trusting and let them improvise :-)

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Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:41 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Yeah Russell was pretty terrible while filming Huckabees, he was a major jerk to the cast, you should see the video of him berating Lily Tomlin for no reason, it's the prime example of how not to direct a film.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:12 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Vexer wrote:
Yeah Russell was pretty terrible while filming Huckabees, he was a major jerk to the cast, you should see the video of him berating Lily Tomlin for no reason, it's the prime example of how not to direct a film.

I read that he had a fist fight with George Clooney in the set of Three Kings and Clooney was not defending himself but some of the mistreated lesser actors in the cast lol. Now, he is a totally different director these days :-)

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Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:43 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
I recommend The Fighter highly. A very good movie.

Three Kings - yep, solid stuff.

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Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:50 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
1/7

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Spanking the Monkey (1994) - 7.5/10

A likeable character is hard to be found, but the twistedness of it all is handled rather brilliantly, balancing well between serious treatment and dark comedy. The subject matter makes for a rather nasty and uncomfortable watch, but it's often very funny and compelling too. All the performances serve the material well, and the film is admirable in its refusal to make the protagonist the butt of a joke. David O. Russell has shown the ability for neuroses since his debut.

One thing about the ending though..

[Reveal] Spoiler:
So he runs away from home right? I am not sure if I get how the ending figures into the overall picture. Does it just suggest something figuratively like he is now lost more than ever?


Also, it took me about 5 minutes into the film before my nagging feeling got me searching and then I connected the protagonist with Daniel Faraday. His roles in Lost and Justified is the only other ones I have seen from Jeremy Davies.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 5:05 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Cool thread. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Russell and whatever other directors you choose.

I've seen everything from Three Kings on (minus American Hustle, which I'll see this weekend), and I've liked all of it, but never loved any of it. I'll echo the others in the thread and say Three Kings is his best. The Fighter is probably the most atypical Russell movie, and is more an actor's showcase than anything. It works, though.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:12 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Seen all of his films aside from American Hustle which I hope to catch this weekend. Spanking The Monkey I could probably stand a re-watch before I comment on it. As for the rest.

Flirting With Disaster: One of the more underrated comedies of the past 17 years or so. Stiller is quite funny here, far better than in the overrated Fockers movies. The whole cast is pretty good. In some ways, this is the family dark comedy that Little Miss Sunshine wanted to be yet never quite reached that level. This one definitely does.

Three Kings. This one earns its new classic status. Shows that Russell, for all his faults as a person, is brilliant at mixing comedy and drama. It also manages to avoid the preaching that many films of this type do. As on target as a Patriot missile.

I Heart Huckabees. Never really been able to develop a definitive opinion on this one. I don't think it's the disaster Vexer sees it as. But it's not a total success either. In some ways, it's one of those films that were made as a sort of personal vision by the director. Either they work for you or they don't. I know some people who consider it a masterpiece and a few (aside from Vexer) who can't stand it. I fall in between: I admire the ambition and certain parts do work. But on the whole it would fall into the noble failure category.

The Fighter. Bale and Leo are fantastic and Wahlberg and Adams are pretty good. But on the whole the movie itself is only slightly above average. Scriptwise it's your basic underdog becomes a champ story. Well-told. But not quite deserving of that much adulation. Although the adulation might be due to the fact that 2010 was a pretty weak film year.

The Silver Linings Playbook. This one is also in well-trod territory sure. But it's ahead of The Fighter and definitely deserves the adulation.

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Last edited by Jeff Wilder on Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:20 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
The only one I've seen is Three Kings and I love it. Don't know why I haven't seen anything else from him, but I think Three Kings is a really great film. Probably would make my Top 5 from that year, which is a lot to say.

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Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:14 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Jeff Wilder wrote:
Flirting With Disaster: One of the more underrated comedies of the past 17 years or so.


Exactly my thought! Why haven't I heard of it more often? Maybe people are waried of Stiller?

2/7

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Flirting with Disaster (1996) - 8/10

David O. Russell tones down the nastiness but plays up the chaos from Spanking the Monkey, and it's very hilarious. He really has a knack for ensemble and high-strung characters. Normally I can tolerate Ben Stiller only in small, low-key doses, but he is perfect here where the situations and many characters around him are as neurotic as he is. I also would go ahead and call this a rather underrated gem. The humor is smart and rapid. The ensemble cast is great and plays well off each other. It gets a little messy towards the end, but that stretch also contains some of the funniest set pieces. I can see myself returning to this again in the future; just a good mix of family drama and old-fashioned screwball comedy where every role hits.


Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:53 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Flirting with Disaster is the one with Tea Leoni, right? I think I saw that one back in the day, but I really don't remember it at all.

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Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:09 pm
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
I remember enjoying it and thinking it decidedly odd, but not sure why.

I'll always like "Three Kings" for a certain delightful scene involving cellphones.

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Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:49 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Syd Henderson wrote:
I remember enjoying it and thinking it decidedly odd, but not sure why.

I'll always like "Three Kings" for a certain delightful scene involving cellphones.


And surely the "Holy cow!" moment?


Fri Dec 20, 2013 12:56 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
3/7

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Three Kings (1999) - 9/10

Russell isn't lacking for ambition. Quite a leap from his first two features to this, and what's impressive is that it really works. It starts out as a dark comedy in his same usual vein, and then morphs into something more. It mixes gritty drama and satire effectively, all the while never abandons its dark wit even when the hard-hitting violence is constantly increasing. There is not a false note in both the characters and performances. The ending might be a little too pat, but other than that, this is a brilliant war comedy.


Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:39 am
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Post Re: Peng Does Underseen Director#1: David O. Russell
Love Three Kings. I need to re-watch that soon. Damn, how great a year was 1999 for movies!


Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:59 pm
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