Friday, January 24, 2014

American Hustle by filmmaker David O. Russell

The Year-1979     The film-American Hustle
Directed by David O. Russell and written by Russell and  Eric Warren Singer this little known true story is about a con man, Irving Rosenfeld played by Christian Bale who takes money from unexpected people wanting to have a little more security in their life. At a party he meets a seductive woman, Sydney Prosser played by the always amazing Amy Adams  and together they set up a fake bank and con more people willing to hand over their savings. That is until FBI agent Richie DiMaso played by Bradley Cooper catches them, instead of sending them off to federal prison he talks them into pulling a large and complex con. The three enter the dangerous and intriguing world of the New Jersey mafia as they try to take down a up and coming mayor played by Jeremy Renner. What happens next, not even Irving's unpredictable and unloving wife Rosalyn played by Jennifer Lawrence knows but she is willing to help out.

Nominated for 6 Academy Awards including best director, original screenplay and all 4 acting categories this fun fast pace film is so enjoyable to watch that when it is over you won't know what happened, in a good way. The characters are unbelievable yet they could be your next door neighbor. It is the late 70s which alone make the hair, make up and costumes worth seeing.  Like in the opening scene which has an almost unrecognizable Bale, a little "heavier" then real life and combing his "hair" to perfection. The low cut dresses worn by the woman are shimmering and shiny. Then there is the music- The songs are from the time period but each one herd in the background has lyrics and feels fitting and perfectly into what is happening on screen. For a good time at the cinema check out American Hustle.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Place Beyond the Pines-The personality of a film

Did I ever tell you about the time John "Cougar " Mellencamp waved to me? It was in the summertime and the sun was out with a chance of rain, I was home from college and a film was being made in my home city of Rochester NY. I was dropped off at the location in which the cast and crew were filming that day, I sat on a bench on the bridge that overlooked the scene they happen to be shooting. From breakfast to sometime after lunch I stayed to see what I could. Then somewhere in between getting wet from the river and the afternoon rain Mellencamp was able to leave his trailer and gave a quick wave to those of us watching from above. The independent film is called After Image and if you can find it I suggest giving it a watch-10 years later and another small film has been made in a place close to my heart...

A Place Beyond the Pines directed by Derek Clanfrance and written by Clanfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder is one story with three separate parts and takes place in a city I have visited (once or twice during my life)
The story starts with Luke played by the aways wonderful Ryan Gosling. Luke is a motorcycle stuntman for a travelling carnival. When this job brings him back to Schenectady NY, he runs into an ex-girlfriend (Eva Mendes) and learns that he is the father to her baby boy, Jason. The new love Luke has for his son sends his life into a downward spiral leading to the second part of the film and introduces Schenectady cop Avery played by always lovely Bradley Cooper. Avery has a young son of his own named A.J. and as a heroic cop his tale is one of drugs, money, corruption on the police force, family and fame. It is that love and sense of family that takes us into the third and final chapter-Jason and A.J are now teenagers and meet when A.J. transfers to Jason's school bringing more trouble for all involved.

A good story and excellent acting make any film worth watching and A Place Beyond the Pines have both including fine performances by Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan.
That being said there are those movies in which the town/city where the story takes place plays a major role in the production and to what the audience sees on scene. NYC, L.A, Chicago and London to name a few are all nice places to watch and I hope to visit but out smaller cities can have just as much as an impact on the viewer and Schenectady proves the point. I spent many days "going over the river and through the woods" to visit my grandmother who lived there. Also by chance it was were my sister and her husband got married. When you see a place you have been and know, when a character reads the local paper a copy of "The Daily Gazette" and you remember waking up and seeing the same paper spread out on the kitchen table or another character mentions the name of a road you have travelled on many times, when there are buildings in the background that you have passed and when Bradley Cooper's character is campaigning for a state office and his staff talks to him about touring the other cities of that state like Buffalo and having to "prepare him for eating a garbage plate" in Rochester one (me) can't help but smile while watching.

But the scene that really got me and stood out is the one where Avery (Cooper) is accepting accommodations for the work that his has done as a cop. There is a press conference for him at Schenectady's City Hall and I swear to you 2014 Academy Award nominee Mr. Bradley Cooper is standing right where my sister stood as the Mayor married her and her husband. The scene makes me so happy!

In the end it really is all about location location location in a small film called A Place Beyond the Pines.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Anchorman 2-funnier then the reviews say

When I first learned of a sequel to the 2003 movie Anchorman I was actually excited and knew that no matter what I would have to see it. I did and unlike some I was not disappointed. I went into the theater not expecting much but I was hoping the new film would make me laugh. Laugh I did!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and directed by McKay picks up in a new decade at a time when Ron (Will Ferrell) and Veronica (Christina Applegate) are married and have a young son. When Veronica is promoted and Ron fired they go their separate ways until a new character Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker) offers him a new job. Ron gets his news team from the first movie Brick Tamland, Brain Fantana, and Champ Kind (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechenr) back together and the insanity begins...

A rich mogal,, think Ted Turner meets Richard Branson, named Kench Allenby (Josh Lawson) and a television news producer named Linda Jackson (Meagan Good) tell them about their plan to start the first 24 hour news network. When our news team gets high ratings during the 2am hour by telling the American people what they want to hear and not what has happened in the days news (much like today's 24 hour news) the guys beat their new foe Jack Lime (James Marsden) are famous and loved by the viewers once again.

I went into this movie not expecting anything new and that's what I got but there is still plenty to laugh at in this typical comedy. I don't want to give anything away but the funniest scene in the first Anchorman (in any film comedy) is the fight between the local news network, every time I flip through the channels and see Anchorman, if the scene hasn't passed by I will always watch until I see it and laugh out loud making my day better. I'm not saying this happens again in part two but I was smiling by the time the credits were rolling.

If you have the time and need something to do check out Anchorman 2 The Legend Continues.