Friday, February 14, 2014

American Hustle (Rhoades)

“American Hustle” Hustles Back to Tropic

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

There’s no con job here: You'll enjoy the movie “American Hustle.”

This dark comedy returns to the Tropic Cinema following its earlier preview as part of the innovative NY Film Critics Series.

“American Hustle” gives us a con man named Irving Rosenfeld, a paunchy conniver with an elaborate comb-over. A woman named Sydney is his partner and lover, a sexy faux-Brit with a larcenous heart. They are being coerced by an FBI agent into working a scam on a New Jersey politico. The wild card is Irving’s unpredictable wife.

Director and co-writer David O. Russell draws on the stars of two of his previous hits. Christian Bale and Amy Adams from “The Fighter” and Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro from “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Here, Bale and Adams are the tricksters; Bradley Cooper is the ambitious Feebie; and Jeremy Renner is one of the targets of their elaborate scheme.

“American Hustle” is a fictionalized telling of the ABSCAM scandal of the late 1970s, an FBI operation that began as an investigation of trafficking in stolen property, but was later expanded to include political corruption.

Christian Bale gained 40 pounds, got himself an elaborate comb-over and slouched to play Irving. The actor ended up herniating two of his disks in the process. It was well worth the effort, for he’s garnered an Academy Award nomination for his efforts.

As a matter of fact, “American Hustle” has collected ten Oscar nods, including Best Picture and Best Director. What’s more it’s the second film in 32 years to be nominated in the four acting categories. The other film was “Silver Linings Playbook,” also by David O. Russell, and also starring Cooper and Lawrence.

Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?

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