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America Loves the Bad Guy (In the Movies That Is) by Giappo

Posted on Jan 11, 2014 by in Writing | 0 comments

With the Art World on holiday and with the two most highly anticipated movies of the year opening in the past week I felt compelled to write reviews on The Wolf of Wall Street andAmerican Hustle.  So enjoy!

The leading roles are played by mega super stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale, and with big name directors Martin Scorsese (possibly the biggest) and David O. Russell (quickly becoming one of them), both of these movies were slated for multiple Oscar nominations long before their release.  Star studded casts of supporting actors including Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner just to name a few… these actors all put together basically represent the best on the planet! Both movies are loosely based off of real life characters and events.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed both films, though in very different ways. Wolf had me loving it from the very first scene. It was funny, exciting, and captivating. DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the best actors on the earth. Teaming up again with Martin Scorsese, for I’m not sure how many films now, this was set to be another powerhouse by the dynamic duo. Of course we get exactly what we would expect from Scorsese and DiCaprio, though I must say the show was definitely stolen by Mr. Jonah Hill. He gives an amazing performance that unquestionably solidifies his place as a very serious actor, and I firmly believe will also get him the Oscar for best supporting actor. He completely reinvents himself, again, to becomeDonnie Azoff. He goes head to head with DiCaprio sharing scenes like DeNiro and Pacino. Not only holding his own with the biggest and the best, but possibly at times out acting them! Wolfis now being called by some Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas! Well I don’t know about all that, but it was pretty freaking awesome and I’m probably going to go see it again, which I honestly can’t tell you the last time I saw a movie twice in the theater.

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Unfortunately along with the rave reviews there’s been some negative ones as well. Strangely, people are complaining about the glorification in this film of money, greed, sex, and drugs. Hold on… are you fucking kidding me! First off, I don’t know about you but I go to the movies to be entertained. I don’t blame movies or TV for the problems in our country, and I’m sorry, but America loves the bad guy! What makes this film any worse then say, Scarface? Where Al Pacino rises to the top as a Cuban immigrant drug lord in Miami humping the American Dream while killing everyone and snorting enough coke to kill a small horse! I mean seriously why must people complain about everything? Is this movie really what’s wrong with our country? Really?

Moving right along, American Hustle was definitely my top pick going into the race. Christian Bale is personally one of my favorite actors not to mention right up there with the most talented. The film stars a superb supporting cast with amazing makeup, costume design, and a soundtrack that all together seamlessly transports the viewer to that time period. Bale brings it home and holds on to the leading role with an incredible performance as Irving Rosenfeld. Though I must admit that for the first five minutes of the movie I had my doubts. I said to myself, “Oh no, can they really pull this off, the accents sound a little cheesy and the acting seems contrived,” but oh how wrong I was! As the scenes continued on I became increasingly involved as the characters grew and took shape before me on the screen. While Bale does give us a fantastic performance Amy Adams , as Sydney Prosser, is the star of the film in my eyes. Every second that she’s in the frame it’s virtually impossible to take your eyes off of her. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, but she also continues to impress me with her acting abilities. Adams is my pick hands down for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, although Jennifer Lawrence was also incredible! In addition Bradley Cooper did give a terrific performance, however I have to go with Jeremy Renner as my nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his role as Mayor Carmine Polito.

American Hustle was an emotional roller coaster with suspense, comedy, and drama. The on screen chemistry between Adams, Bale, Cooper and Lawrence was electric and again in my opinion due mostly to Adams’ performance. By the end of the movie I was so enthralled with the characters that I barely even cared how or if they would pull off the con. You truly feel increasingly sympathetic for Bale’s character throughout the movie and want to see him succeed. He’s really not such a bad guy after all now, is he?

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These two extraordinary films are about two very different men who made their livings essentially by conning people into giving them their hard earned money, whether it be to invest in a bogus stock or to get a loan. Though for the most part illegal, at the end of the day they were the best at what they did, and isn’t that what America’s all about? Being the best at what you do and making a successful living doing it. We’ve been glorifying criminals, drugs and money in movies for decades so I don’t understand why there would be any shock from these two films, which are easily the best of 2013 and most likely the best we’re going to see for quite some time. Don’t believe the hype and buy into the negative reviews go see them for yourselves and make your own decision. I’m very confident that you’ll be entertained, and that’s the whole point.

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