By Andrew Bevevino
Deceive to achieve. Get dirty to get ahead. Scam to survive. Such is life in David O. Russel’s crime-drama “American Hustle.” It’s tough to tell which way is up in this story of cons within cons and double-crosses after double-crosses. Always masterfully misleading or misdirecting, the intricacy of these illusions is what makes this film so fantastic.
Set in a 1970s New Jersey, the story centers on a couple of con artists, Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser, who have been caught in a sting operation by federal agents. Irving and Sydney are forced to orchestrate an operation exposing a number of corrupt politicians. As the story unfolds, these criminal masterminds navigate their way through the sharp twists and turns of this enormous cheat.
Continue reading “Holiday Movie Reviews: “American Hustle”: Life’s a Con”
Out of the Furnace: Lukewarm
By Andrew Bevevino
Among the superstars to appear in the drama/thriller Out of the Furnace are Casey Affleck, Forrest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, and Zoe Saldana. Did I mention Christian Bale? Oh yeah, one of the producers is Leonardo DiCaprio. All of this star-power should have churned out an epic movie, right? Well, not necessarily. It turns out that Out of the Furnace should have stayed in the furnace a little longer.
Set in the steel mill town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, the story unfolds around Russell Baze, a scruffy steel mill worker portrayed by Christian Bale. Russell works his days away at the local mill, trying to provide for his wife Lena, played by Zoe Saldana. Russell and Lena are happy, living in a small house in Braddock and even thinking about having kids.
The steel mill setting is, above all else, bleak. Rusty machinery and billows of smoke are always present, portraying a very raw, cold theme. Before nearly every scene is an establishing shot of the towering smoke stacks or the massive steel mills. Many shots are composed in dim lighting, and the appearance of the sun is scarce. If director Scott Cooper wanted to make a grim, dreary movie, then he did a damn good job.
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