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One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems 
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
Ken wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
I could be wrong, but I don't remember anyone here making the point about how incredibly safe the ending is, and how it's passed off as happy when in reality it would be anything but for the characters this movie spent the last 2 hours exploring. Contrast it with the end of Goodfellas and you'll see what she means.

The good guys lost almost all of their pilots in what amounts to a minor military victory, they fail to kill the enemy's second-in-command even though he was one of the last surviving combatants on the battlefield, and the incredibly small organization of ill-equipped insurgents is going to lose a lot more of its people under the thumb of an oppressive dictatorship, which realistically involves them being sequestered away in wastelands for years while their children starve and their women are widowed... and we're supposed to forget all that misery just because Luke Skywalker gets a medal at the end?


Facile. They were all --all -- going to die and the rebellion was going to be utterly destroyed. But because of Luke Skywalker, they live to fight another day. That's a victory. That's a HUGE victory.

Dunkirk was a major morale boost, and that was a far, far less significant triumph than The Battle of Yavin

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
Not facile, because it demonstrates my point: whether an ending is "good" or "bad" is entirely a matter of selective presentation of the material. It happens in movies all the time, and I am zero percent convinced from the evidence shown here that Amercian Hustle's choice of ending is somehow intrinsically inappropriate or harmful.

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Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:21 pm
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
Ken wrote:
Not facile, because it demonstrates my point: whether an ending is "good" or "bad" is entirely a matter of selective presentation of the material. It happens in movies all the time, and I am zero percent convinced from the evidence shown here that Amercian Hustle's choice of ending is somehow intrinsically inappropriate or harmful.


The ending isn't a case of "good" or "bad". It's a case of being tonally inconsistent with the rest of the film. To add on to Kunz's point, the end of Star Wars is also about what that victory means to the characters. You know, the same characters the movie focused on for the huge majority of it's running time. A celebration is very much earned after such a hard fought, unlikely victory. That doesn't mean hard times aren't on the horizon, but it also doesn't mean something is wrong with the celebration. There's also the fact that in war, smaller victories against long odds can be just as meaningful as larger victories. Hell, Zack Snyder even made a (really bad) movie about that very idea. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't think it's a very good example.

I mean, if you honestly don't see that American Hustle presents these people as extremely likely to hate the sort of lifestyle they end up living (without any sort of nod to that), then I don't really know what to tell you. I guess we saw different movies. It feels like a cop out in order to give the audience a happy ending.


Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:52 pm
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
Perhaps we did see different movies. I'm not going to argue over that, as we are now at a point where we seem to have developed differing expectations by the time the ending rolled around.

As for Star Wars, though... I'm actually not just playing a logic game here. The ending has bothered me ever since I was a kid. Not that I think it should have been a "bad" ending, but damn, is this what the whole movie was building toward? All the friendships, all the struggles, all the self-discovery, all the courage? One quick scene, the heroes get a medal, boom, the end? But I digress.

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
PeachyPete wrote:
unwindfilms wrote:
She hardly provide examples but mainly comparison with other films in a desperately attempt to bring some laughs and entertain rather than illustrate her point


Let's see, she talked about the overly showy performances, the screenplay (or lack thereof), and specifically analyzed the entire ending of the film. She also brought up the film's period detail to make the point that Russell's indulgence in that (and the characters) is one of the film's major issues. You might not agree with her on any of these points, but to paint this article the way you have is inaccurate. You liked the movie a lot. Great. There's just no need to dismiss valid criticisms because you do. I think you might need to reread the article with a less biased mind.

At the end of the day, I think the movie operates more on a meta level than anything. I don't think it's so much about characters as I think it's about movie stars dressing up and doing things in front of a camera. I think that's why it opens on the instantly recognizable Christian Bale looking very un-Bale like, and a big reason why the movie is mostly about yanking these "characters" in as many different directions as possible. It makes for a fun movie, but I don't think Russell even tries to do anything with the concept other than have some fun. It's a movie that works for what it is, but there seems to be some opportunity for satire or commentary that was very much missed. As it is, it's much too lightweight (thematically, there are tons of comedies that aren't lightweight) and imperfect to be considered great. There's just actors doing things in front of a camera, characters being taken to great extremes. None of that connects to anything other than itself, which isn't bad, but isn't enough to make anything resembling a point.

The article calls it flashy and empty, and I agree completely. It isn't the worst BP nominee (it's certainly better than Dallas Buyers Club), but in an ideal world it wouldn't even be a nominee.


How can I take Paskin seriously? if when I start reading the article I find this heading : American Hustle Is the Flashiest, Emptiest, Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Year but she never analyze any other nominee to prove that each one of them are better, instead she brings a Michael Bay comparison in big letters out of thin air lol I thought is this a comedian act?

As a simple point a reference for Oscars nominees for best picture, If you checks the betting odds American Hustle is in 3rd favourite place , very close to Gravity and 12 years a slave and the rest of the pack very far behind

I also totally disagree with your own analysis as I was totally engaged while watching the story telling because the riveting characters particularly when they were at their best as Mark Hughes put it :

Quote:
Christian Bale and Amy Adams give incredible lead performances drawing you into these characters’ lives until you fully invest in the outcome. They are crooks, they caused a lot of people a lot of grief, and they are far from admirable in any literal sense; but Bale and Adams portray all of that with absolute clarity yet still also display such painful humanity and dig down to find the need and hope and sense of loyalties that make them into complicated people who can’t merely be written off as “evil” and “bad” in any simplistic way whatsoever.

This is storytelling at its best, because it’s character at its best. It proves you can have sympathetic people who are also responsible for very bad things, and that nobody is 100% defined at all times by only the worst things they’ve done, any more than they are defined entirely by the best things they’ve done. To find those kernels of redemption in a sea of dishonesty, and to find the seeds of betrayal growing alongside a renewed sense of responsibility and shame, is the kind of complex sincerity I love in a movie’s depiction of characters.



I love this new style of David O Rusell since Playbook:

Quote:
“I realized my favorite people in my favorite movies are riveting, raw characters … That’s the stuff that I remember, that’s the stuff that’s burned into my cinema mind. So that’s what I wanted to do. Not overthink it, not be ponderous, but really go for it from the gut and love the characters unconditionally and go with them pedal to the metal. Because that’s what I find right away emotionally grabs you, that’s what’s captivating emotionally, and that’s what riveting to me.”


I can hardly wait for his next film 8-)

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Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:55 am
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
How is betting odds a reference to discussing a film's merits? I find a few performances in the supporting actress nominee list superior to Lawrence, but if having to place a bet wouldn't hesitate to place it on her.


Wed Jan 29, 2014 4:27 am
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
peng wrote:
How is betting odds a reference to discussing a film's merits? I find a few performances in the supporting actress nominee list superior to Lawrence, but if having to place a bet wouldn't hesitate to place it on her.


It was a simple point of reference based on favouritism

Cheers

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
unwindfilms wrote:
peng wrote:
How is betting odds a reference to discussing a film's merits? I find a few performances in the supporting actress nominee list superior to Lawrence, but if having to place a bet wouldn't hesitate to place it on her.


It was a simple point of reference based on favouritism

Cheers


Yeeeeeeahhhhh no I don't think betting odds make any sense at all in this argument. None of us are arguing that the movie isn't popular or isn't likely to win or anything to that effect.

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
JamesKunz wrote:
unwindfilms wrote:
peng wrote:
How is betting odds a reference to discussing a film's merits? I find a few performances in the supporting actress nominee list superior to Lawrence, but if having to place a bet wouldn't hesitate to place it on her.


It was a simple point of reference based on favouritism

Cheers


Yeeeeeeahhhhh no I don't think betting odds make any sense at all in this argument. None of us are arguing that the movie isn't popular or isn't likely to win or anything to that effect.


Ok point taken but now that you are on line, then defends the article that you brought claiming that "American Hustle" is the Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Year, the one that has your back in a "big way" :roll:

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
<em>unwindfilms</em> wrote:
Ok point taken but now that you are on line, then defends the article that you brought claiming that "American Hustle" is the Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Year, the one that has your back in a "big way"


Because she highlights the same scene I did as being a bad scene:

When Robert de Niro appears as a mob boss who, like real mob bosses, is willing to kill people, for one brief glorious moment Irving, Sydney, and Richie realize they are in over their heads. But then Russell lets the water out of the pool. The film pulls back, chickens out on the realistic possibility of anything life-threatening happening in this underworld of low lives, scam artists, shady characters, and wise guys. Ugly consequences wouldn’t be any fun at all.

Indeed.

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
JamesKunz wrote:
<em>unwindfilms</em> wrote:
Ok point taken but now that you are on line, then defends the article that you brought claiming that "American Hustle" is the Worst Best Picture Nominee of the Year, the one that has your back in a "big way"


Because she highlights the same scene I did as being a bad scene:

When Robert de Niro appears as a mob boss who, like real mob bosses, is willing to kill people, for one brief glorious moment Irving, Sydney, and Richie realize they are in over their heads. But then Russell lets the water out of the pool. The film pulls back, chickens out on the realistic possibility of anything life-threatening happening in this underworld of low lives, scam artists, shady characters, and wise guys. Ugly consequences wouldn’t be any fun at all.

Indeed.


Uhmmm. I did not have problem with that scene myself. I found De Niro cameo very good and I personally liked that Russell chose not to embrace darkness in contrary as Paskin wish as Peter Travers wrote in his review:

Quote:
As for the exaggerated costumes, hair and makeup, it’s all part of Russell’s master plan to show characters reinventing themselves as a survival mechanism. Condescending, no. Compassionate, yes. Russell sees himself in these broken dreamers. For some, the silver linings in Russell’s movies represent a failure to embrace darkness. I see them as a humanist’s act of resistance. That’s why American Hustle ranks with the year’s best movies. It gets under your skin.

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
<em>unwindfilms</em> wrote:
I see them as a humanist’s act of resistance


:roll: :roll: :roll:

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
JamesKunz wrote:
<em>unwindfilms</em> wrote:
I see them as a humanist’s act of resistance


:roll: :roll: :roll:


So what's wrong with that? It's a legitimate analysis of the film. I too appreciated the rejection of darkness in this particular case. Not every movie has to be like that.


Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:22 am
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
MGamesCook wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
<em>unwindfilms</em> wrote:
I see them as a humanist’s act of resistance


:roll: :roll: :roll:


So what's wrong with that? It's a legitimate analysis of the film. I too appreciated the rejection of darkness in this particular case. Not every movie has to be like that.


Because the idea of David O. Russell making a decision as part of a humanist philosophy is utter bullshit. An "act of resistance?" Jesus Christ. The man made a movie in which he pointed cameras at actors and let them do their thing Which is fine. But imagine if someone said that Best in Show showed a Unitarian worldview, or some such.

According to Christian Bale much of the movie was improvised. So, during the shooting of the film he noted to David O. Russell, "You realize that this is going to change the plot greatly down track." To which the director replied, "Christian, I hate plots. I am all about characters, that's it."

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
JamesKunz wrote:
<em>unwindfilms</em> wrote:
I see them as a humanist’s act of resistance


:roll: :roll: :roll:


People are free to read the movie this way, I suppose, but man, does that sound like a pretentious load of bunk to me. I don't really see why someone would place that level of analysis on something that even the director admits he doesn't even concern himself with. I mean, if the guy hates plots, how can you seriously make the case that he's consciously avoided darkness in his plots? It just sounds like empty philosophizing.

As for the unwind's issues with the article's title - it's a common internet tactic for websites to use baiting, inflammatory, controversy-seeking titles like that to ensure web surfers click on the link. I'm not saying it's an honorable thing to do, but I'm also not going to hold it against Slate or Paskin. The content of the article in regard to the quality of the film is more what I care about.

Let's try to focus more on the points the article makes instead of trying to discredit the author for being a TV critic or for the title.

Mark Hughes wrote:
This is storytelling at its best, because it’s character at its best. It proves you can have sympathetic people who are also responsible for very bad things, and that nobody is 100% defined at all times by only the worst things they’ve done, any more than they are defined entirely by the best things they’ve done. To find those kernels of redemption in a sea of dishonesty, and to find the seeds of betrayal growing alongside a renewed sense of responsibility and shame, is the kind of complex sincerity I love in a movie’s depiction of characters.


Storytelling at it's best is when character is meshed with idea. Russell has only characters in this movie, no ideas. Hence, the film being empty and flashy.

Again, since I feel like I'm shitting all over the movie, it's a good, entertaining, fun movie. Just nowhere near as good as people hype it up to be.


Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:16 pm
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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
In all honesty guys, I enjoyed AMERICAN HUSTLE in the moment, and while I have a soft spot for dark movies, something that goes the other way is fine by me too. It's just that for whatever reason, this film hasn't stuck with me. Scenes don't linger in the memory much. I probably saw at least 30 movies last year that I'd watch again over this one. Maybe I'll give it another shot once it hits video.

Unless......

peng wrote:
I find a few performances in the supporting actress nominee list superior to Lawrence, but if having to place a bet wouldn't hesitate to place it on her.


.....this guy's prediction comes true and the Academy repeats the Globes' mistake. Then I'll probably end up hating this movie. #TeamLupita

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
Quote:
Russell has only characters in this movie, no ideas. Hence, the film being empty and flashy.


No, that's not true. There's plenty of ideas regarding morality, ambition, etc. It's there, though it may not be bluntly stated in the dialogue as with Wolf of Wall Street and Pain and Gain. Personally, I don't think it's the best movie of 2013 at all. But honestly, there's a bit more to be said for it than just the fact that the actors are good. Russell's shooting style, as was the case with The Fighter and Silver Linings, is intensely energized in a way that's different from how any other director does it. And style is substance to a certain extent. It has to be, or else the director brings nothing to the table. And even though he says it's all improvised, many of the shots are elaborate enough where it's definitely not as simple as that.

I can see where Russell's apparent lack of ambition is a little frustrating, but ambition often isn't rewarded anyway and many critics have trouble actually defining it. American Hustle may not be a transcendent experience, but it's still state of the art in a number of ways.


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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
MGamesCook wrote:
No, that's not true. There's plenty of ideas regarding morality, ambition, etc.


Disagree. Just because a character is asked to make a moral choice, or a movie is populated with characters who have the trait of ambition, doesn't mean those are the ideas the entire film is working with. That's much too easy and trite. The movie doesn't deal with these things as ideas. Subtlety has nothing to do with it.

MGamesCook wrote:
Russell's shooting style, as was the case with The Fighter and Silver Linings, is intensely energized in a way that's different from how any other director does it. And style is substance to a certain extent. It has to be, or else the director brings nothing to the table. And even though he says it's all improvised, many of the shots are elaborate enough where it's definitely not as simple as that.


Agreed with your point about directing, however I'd add that the director's style should be accentuating the substance rather than being the substance. That said, I can see your point about Russell's shooting style, and agree. However, I think his style ups the energy in this movie and makes it fun, but, again, doesn't do much in terms of bringing out anything like an idea the film is working with (granted, that's because I don't see any). Again, I'm not saying this is a bad movie by any means, or that Russell is a poor director, or did a poor job with this movie. I just don't see where it has any claim to greatness.


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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
JamesKunz wrote:
MGamesCook wrote:

So what's wrong with that? It's a legitimate analysis of the film. I too appreciated the rejection of darkness in this particular case. Not every movie has to be like that.


Because the idea of David O. Russell making a decision as part of a humanist philosophy is utter bullshit. An "act of resistance?" Jesus Christ. The man made a movie in which he pointed cameras at actors and let them do their thing Which is fine. But imagine if someone said that Best in Show showed a Unitarian worldview, or some such.

According to Christian Bale much of the movie was improvised. So, during the shooting of the film he noted to David O. Russell, "You realize that this is going to change the plot greatly down track." To which the director replied, "Christian, I hate plots. I am all about characters, that's it."


Oh Russell was all the time in it and talking to his actors, he just did not call "cut" and/or "action" but let the cameras roll all the time but always participating in what he calls "Characters based cinema". Listen to this interview with him where he explains the process, I found the whole interview very interesting but you can skip to ~5:57 where he talks about his "character based cinema" technique.

I personally like his world view which is essentially optimistic and romantic in particular from his last two films and I can hardly wait for a next one with this view and "character based cinema" technique. I am really becoming a big fan of his 8-)

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Post Re: One Scene That Demonstrates American Hustle's Problems
My two cents on this thread.

I disagree with James' OP. I think the fake Sheik's response was actually believable. If he's answered the way he did before that thug interrupted the conversation, then he would have blown his cover. But with the conversation broken, his generic, greeting-card-esq response was enough.

But, the Direction in the film isn't awe-inspiring. I actually feel that despite being about the actors, it sometimes contrives to stifle them a wee bit. And the use of Scorsese style zoom-ups, I appreciated from an ironic POV, but little more. Overall, the scene is set well, but not amazingly well. Not as well as Goodfellas or Miller's Crossing are. The actors pull the cart here.

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