Tag Archives: Bradley Cooper

David O. Russell: The Hustler.

17 Mar

Every once in a while a film comes along that surprises you. It may be from a random selection on Netflix or from a friends recommendation but it will take you by the heartstrings and tug until you have fallen head over heels. Over the years this has happened a number of times for me. These times have included Alex Kurtzman’s People Like Us starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, Danny Boyle’s Trance full of its complex twists and turns and one of Daniel Craig’s many exceptional departures from his Bond character in The Mother. But much more recently the surprise has come from David O. Russell and his trio of hits: The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

With the former two films the surprises came from the performances. Bale, Wahlberg, Cooper, Lawrence, the list of stars with incredible delivery and believability could go on and on. With the latter, the surprise came from simply everything.

american hustleDuring the months before its release American Hustle, a film about con-man Irving Rosenfeld who is forced to work with FBI agent Richie DiMaso to bring down high stakes powerbrokers and the mafia elite, whilst wrestling with a complicated and lustful love life, felt slightly overshadowed by its fellow Oscar nominees. It fell way below my radar but after seeing just one trailer, I accompanied a group of friends to the cinema to watch the quietest nominee in action. Never before have I left a dark room full of strangers more satisfied….

David O. Russell has managed to achieve what so many others can only dream of. Having a large ensemble cast, creating a script heavily laden with dialogue and tackling an intriguing yet rarely visited subject matter, and making it all work. So many times we see these elements, individually and collectively, falling short of the mark due to the directors lack of clarity, but O. Russell does it seamlessly and beautifully. With his last three films he has focused on substance over style (I know, I know, Bradley Coopers hair in American Hustle is pretty stylish but hey!), managing to create a universe in which the actors are truly able to shine. One technique which has established their abilities to truly act upon impulse is through improvisation. In regards to the improv, roughly making up a third of the film’s dialogue, it has been reported that during shooting Christian Bale noted (Source IMDB) to his director, “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.” What is interesting about the latter statement is that from watching his films, you can really believe this.

american hustle 2And in American Hustle that statement could not be more true. From start to finish it is the people who you care about. Not the glitz and glamour of the 1970’s, not the structure of the plot, not even the electric soundtrack, but the people. You root for them all, you care about them all, you get invested in their highs and their lows and pray that this one has a happy ending. The direction by O. Russel with actors and his avid involvement with every scene obviously plays a huge part but it is truly a testament to the actors cast in this film who are making a mark on the world.

Christian Bale proves once again that he is one of the worlds all time greatest actors, submerging himself into the character of Irving Rosenfeld with ease and clarity. Renner is superb as Carmine Polito, the Mayor caught between a rock and a hard con, with a vulnerability that we havent seen yet seen in his career but hope that it may continue. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence shine, both literally and metaphorically, with sparkly dresses, big hair and power house performances that alight the flame for the women of Hollywood. For me though the main star is Bradley Cooper. It’s hard to believe that the young quail-shooting sleaze-ball we saw in ‘Wedding Crashers’ would grow to be such a huge contender, and if you still have doubts of his abilities then I am going to presume you have not seen this film. His acting comes from the gut, the soul, and the characters belief, passion and inevitable demise are something special to watch.

AMERICAN-HUSTLE-04-Bradley-CooperBut what about the plot I hear you cry. Well, there is one but it really isn’t whats important. On researching this film I found so many people disagreed with that statement, that they were bored by the characters, crying out for a plot that took centre stage, and proclaiming that the film didn’t live up to its hype. What is interesting about this is that the hype escaped me completely. That as I said a mere 27 lines ago (yes I counted) my attention was being diverted by other Oscar nominees such as Gravity and The Wolf of Wall Street, so I went into that dark room full of strangers clutching my £5 popcorn with very few expectations. Perhaps it is the best way to enjoy a film, I don’t know. But what I do know is that David O. Russell’s universe is one that I would happily live in.

Selling Point – Bradley Cooper for the ladies. Amy Adams cleavage for the men. Oh and it is surprisingly funny.

Line-o-rama – “I felt like we had a secret, just the two of us. Like that thing where you just wanna be with one person all the time. You feel like the two of you get something no one else gets.”  – Irving Rosenfeld

Silver Linings Playbook.

12 Apr

Hype. The dictionary definitions of this word are as follows: ‘Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion’ and ‘Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material’. So many films over the years are a party to this word, where we as the viewing public are bombarded with press releases, billboards, trailers, promotional videos, viral campaigns….the list goes on and on. Often this ‘hype’ creates an illusion of grandeur, of superiority and excellence, and often we can be left disappointed. In the case of Silver Linings Playbook, where for around a year we heard of its release and its oscar-worthy performances, the hype was a success as the films excellence far outweighs its disappointments.

Starring Bradley Cooper (who at this moment in time is incredibly hungover…Part III is out very soon) and Jennifer Lawrence, the star of the recent box-office hit Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat (Cooper) who after completing an 8 month stretch in a mental institution for beating up his wife’s lover, returns to his chaotic home where he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a determined girl with a truck-load of her own problems.Silver_Linings_Playbook

Post-Oscars it is easy to understand why this film has been so highly received. A beautiful soundtrack, an astounding cast and a moving storyline are all significant components in this well-oiled machine. Superior to all of those however is the script. Developed by the director David O. Russell from the book by Matthew Quick, it is electrifying. At almost every given moment there are multiple levels of dialogue happening at once, delivered with such precision and finesse the audience are left, not confused but, buzzing. The back and forth between each character is exceptional, most notably between Pat and his Dad, Pat Sr. played by Robert De Niro, and adds to the already fast-paced momentum of the film.

Post-Oscars it is however difficult to understand why Bradley Cooper was not awarded his Oscar and Jennifer Lawrence was. Other than being up against an icon of the film industry Daniel Day-Lewis for his role as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln, Cooper’s performance is by far superior to that of his co-star, portraying a young man with bipolar in a chaotic and troublesome world to absolute perfection.

silver-linings-playbook-bradley-cooper

In a low-calibre romantic comedy called ‘You, Me and Dupree’ Owen Wilsons character Dupree talks about everyone having a ‘ness’, qualities that only you hold that are no-one elses. To use myself as an example, Amy-ness. The last few years I have thought about this in terms of Indie-ness. Actors who have qualities that are lost in the mainstream but come alive and prosper in films that are either slightly left-field or ones that simply don’t have the resources to be advertised in every possible way. Ryan Gosling has this Indie-ness, as does McConaughey and Daniel Craig. Cooper is fast following in these footsteps and making a huge imprint in the dirt.

So the question is, does Silver Linings Playbook live up to the hype? For the most part I would say yes. The weight of Bradley Coopers performance, an astounding script that is brilliantly delivered by all the cast and a melodic soundtrack, all make this film really special. The final moments where Pat and Tiffany take part in a dance competition lack the somewhat climatic impact you are hoping for throughout the films build up, which does leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth and mind, but over all it satisfies much more than most rom-coms of the modern era. Fast, charming and solid, an absolute must-see.

Silver_Linings_Playbook diner

Selling Point – Tiffany talking to Pat about her sexual experience with a woman. Literally one of my favourite scenes of all time, for nothing else but Pat’s reaction.