Tag Archives: Jennifer Lawrence

American Hustle (2013)

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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.

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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Drawing comparisons between a David O. Russell film and the film of another, more boilerplate Oscar-season director is kind of like comparing the X Games to the Olympics, the latter more prepared to sweep us up in its comforting and controlled familiarity, the former astonishing with its mercurial brilliance. This is not a compliment or critique, but a comment on the thrilling messiness David O. Russell brings as a storyteller. Silver Linings Playbook–Russell’s follow up to the Academy-nominated The Fighter–thrives in this mess, bringing its sundry characters together in a collection of manic fits and starts–appropriate for a film so preoccupied with mental health issues. Playbook is a film with the heart of a romantic comedy and the head of a black comedy, and of this collision is born a visceral, cerebral story about a family with a lot to fix.

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The Hunger Games (2012)

For a first-timer, The Hunger Games requires a lot of unpacking. Certainly there’s the initial/perpetual shock of a story that centers on an event wherein children are literally killing each other for the entertainment of the upper class, but that’s really only the tip, as this powerful central device results in myriad other plot elements worth considering. At any given moment there are themes of politics, propaganda, corruption, class, status, manipulation, public relations, and, oh yeah, life and death. To say this is a story with a lot going on is an understatement, though you can’t really say that all of these themes are fully explored either. The Hunger Games is a balancing act, wherein author (and co-screenwriter) Suzanne Collins‘ first consideration is her characters: children who, having already spent much of their lives in some degree of destitution, are now forced to hunt and kill one another, all in the name of “peace and prosperity.”

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X-Men: First Class (2011)

When you look at the scope of the Marvel Universe in regards to the films released in the last decade, it’s all a bit of a mess. There’s no shortage of disjointed timelines, relationships and character arcs, and to top if all off, Marvel productions seem perfectly content taking massive liberties with their own mythology. It’s not a deal-breaker, for me or apparently for most, as X-Men: First Class stole it’s opening weekend, but the discordance isn’t so minor as to be invisible; a fact made even clearer when trying to reconcile the 1960s version of Magneto with his significantly more haggard 2000s self. Despite all that, Director Matthew Vaughn has put his own spin on an X-Men tale, and in the process made a film that, at the very least, stands with the best of the franchise.

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