I just don’t have much to say about American Hustle. Not for lack of trying, but the film hasn’t given me much to think about since I saw it a week ago. It’s a perfectly okay movie built on a mildly interesting true story that has a few things to say about the follies of greed, and includes a pair of knockout performances. But more than all that, and first, it’s a film that reminds you how utterly flaky Academy voters can be.
Tag Archives: Amy Adams
Superficially, Her is striking because it’s entirely plausible. From the Apple-tinted future tech to the subtle revisions to fashion to the utter solitude found in a crowd, the film has a great deal to say about the near future, and the world we’re in the process of creating. And yet, Her isn’t about the science fiction. It’s not about predicting the future or scaring us straight. It is, simply, a love story in a different time than ours, with a different set of rules and the same expectations. Had he wanted to, Writer/Director Spike Jonze could have explored the futurist angle — there’s ample evidence that he designed his world far past what was necessary for the story he’s telling — but that’s not where his interests as a storyteller lie. They lie with people, and the connections between people, and the unexplored places to which these connections can take us.
There is a great Superman film out there somewhere. There’s nothing inherently challenging about telling this story, other than the powerful ownership so many fans have over it. And I suppose there’s an argument that Zack Snyder has gotten closer to it than anyone else; Man of Steel paints its main character’s neurosis and isolation in wide swaths, and these elements are necessary for any modern rehash. But, as is often the case with mega, ultra, super blockbusters, they’ve put the horse before the cart with this latest iteration of the world’s first superhero, building a flashy skyscraper on the rickety foundation of a David S. Goyer-penned screenplay.
When Toy Story came out in 1995, it shocked people. Pixar’s style was entirely unprecedented, and understandably became the chief talking point, but no one could deny the quality of writing and storytelling behind the flagship film. At its heart, Toy Story is a film about nostalgia and childhood, a musing younger generations seem more and more intent on indulging. The Muppets isn’t as tied up in the more general existentialisms of growing up as Pixar’s debut, as it is so obsessed with the Muppet canon, but it is nonetheless the best film about nostalgia since Toy Story. Writer and Star Jason Segel hasn’t made a movie so much about how wonderful the Muppets are, as a film about how wonderful the Muppets are to him, and by proxy, his audience. And this is not a minor distinction. Making a film from the heart and not the head, at least in this case, makes all the difference in the world.
It seems that every year there’s a film like this. A film that ends up feeling weighted more towards character portrayal than big picture. A film with at least one performance almost guaranteed to bring home the Oscar. Last year it was Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. Before that Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Before that Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. The list goes on. It’s not that David O. Russell‘s The Fighter is an incomplete film as much as it’s so entirely driven by its actors. This based-on-a-true-story is clean and concise, and doesn’t require much sifting to get at a core comprised of an underdog vs. the world and the massive weight of his family.