Spy Girl posted from Hollywood Dolby Theater.
Underscoring deeply conflicted characters, who are on a mission to reconceive their unsatisfying circumstances, has become director David O. Russell’s sweet spot. From his raw 1996 film, “Flirting with Disaster,” to last year’s acclaimed “Silver Linings Playbook,” he effectively unravels the disarray.
In the 1970s-set con artist tale “American Hustle,” Russell’s ability to depict an audacious take on a bedlam breakdown peaks, making this his most entertaining jaunt yet.Loosely chronicling the FBI investigation designed to implicate government officials by way of bribery known as the Abscam scandal, Russell inserts this disclaimer at the start: “Some of this actually happened.” The note sets the facetious tone for the corruption smear — six congressmen and a senator really went down — that riddled New York in the late ’70s and early 1980s.
Russell, who co-wrote the script with Eric Singer (“The International”), could have devised an austere new-age noir. But he avoided the melodrama, instead heightening the ludicrous true-crime thread to an outrageously savage, comical and rapid degree. The result is a sleek revival of the ’70s, complete with oversized glasses, plaid suit jackets, plunging come-hither necklines and a rapturous soundtrack.
Just about all of his characters are painstakingly obsessed with getting ahead. As a result, they cast morality and logic to the side at the expense of love, stability and a clean criminal record.
Some of the names from the real operation have been changed here, as Irving Rosenfeld, played by Christian Bale, is based on actual con artist Mel Weinberg, who was forced to conspire with the FBI to evade doing time.
The constantly effective Bale, as the bearded Irving, is a clever swindler who owns a slew of dry cleaners, sells both poached and fake art and hooks people into pseudo loan deals. But he’s not exclusively heartless. His conscience ensures he ideally wants a person to feel satisfied, which makes him quite lovable.
Sacrificing his usual sex appeal, Bale committed to packing on an extra 40 pounds and hiding a fake balding head with a hairpiece and a comb-over for this role. Still, his Irving is able to charm the smart and sassy former stripper Sydney Prosser (a memorably bold and genius Amy Adams) at a winter indoor-pool party by identifying their mutual love for Duke Ellington. Sydney, who is tired of slumming, pitches in on Irving’s crooking and assumes the perfect British blue blood persona for luring clientele into the loan scam. Before long, the two, who take turns narrating the story, fall madly in love.
But we soon find out Irving is married and stashes his lady Roselyn and her son on Long Island. His sultry and blunt companion, fiercely pronounced by Jennifer Lawrence, ensures she’s far from forgotten as she threatens to unmask Irving’s scheming if he utters the word divorce. The 23-year-old actress is the most irresistible part of this film, as she shifts between fiery and needy in an instant.
As Irving and Sydney’s plotting gains steam, they attract the interest of FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), who is thirsty for recognition and threatens a bust unless the couple goes in on a plan to nail politicians. But Richie, who lives with his mother and packs his head with rollers for that sexy curly look, falls victim to Sydney’s deceitful advances, as he certainly isn’t as clever as he thinks he is.
However, with themes of duality and skepticism running throughout, Sydney’s attraction toward Richie (who Cooper cleverly punches up in each scene), inevitably becomes real.
When the scheme to take down questionable pompadour-donning New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) goes wrong, things begin to unravel.
The film may lack grit but the stellar cast adds to its allure, helping to round out this dynamic account where reinvention offers the means to endure.
“The Hunger Games” opens Friday, tracking toward an opening weekend ticket take of perhaps more than $100 million. The movie, about a future dystopia that pits teens in televised fights to the death, cost around $80 million to make.
Lionsgate, home to the “Saw” horror franchise, has seen rough times lately. It weathered a takeover bid by Carl Icahn and its stock price dropped 45 percent in a four-year period, according to Bloomberg. But it recently gained muscle when it bought Summit, the studio mother of the “Twilight” movies. Those films, based, like “The Hunger Games, on a popular series of books, earned $2.3 billion, a figure “Games” hopes to match or even surpass.
So how do you start to make a film. First you buy a story, or the rights to a book the underlying rights. This usually happens before anyone really knows about it. In the case of The Hunger Games Lionsgate secured the rights to Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” in 2009 before it became a household name.
“The Hunger Games,” the first of a trilogy, had sold about 250,000 copies when Lionsgate acquired it. By the time the film went into production last May, the three novels had sold a combined 8 million. When production wrapped in September, the total had climbed to 12 million. The New York Times reported Sunday that there are now 24 million copies in print.
Shooting in North Carolina gave “The Hunger Games” a 25 percent rebate on salaries for resident cast and crew and what the film spent on taxable items in the state, according to the Charlotte Observer. The film was finished for under the widely reported $80 million; $12 million in subsidies helped get it there, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The crew also made use of a 2.4 million-square foot abandoned factory and part of a national forest.
The studio reportedly locked up lead actress Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone,” “X-Men: First Class”), who plays the heroine Katniss Everdeen, for $500,000 for the first film, according to the Hollywood Reporter. That’s in the neighborhood of what Kristen Stewart got for the first “Twilight.” Lawrence and her costars, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale), signed on the dotted line for the film adaptations of all three books before production began on the first. Of course there are financial incentives based on each film’s success.
Director Gary Ross, who wrote the film with Billy Ray and Collins, took the studio’s streamlined mission to heart. Great storytelling is great story telling.
Even the marketing campaign — which cost a mere $45 million, The New York Times reported — cost less than half of what most high-profile blockbusters chew up. With an eye on the bottom line and expectations sky-high, “The Hunger Games” appears headed for franchise nirvana.
Taylor Swift fans who can’t wait to see The Hunger Games—and we’re betting there are a lot of them—got a special treat over the weekend.
That’s because the country pop princess performed, for the first time ever, “Eyes Open,” the tune she contributed to the would-be blockbuster hitting theaters this weekend. These are the greatest fans I have come across. The young girls I ran into waiting to see The Hunger Games, had read the book several times and you can bet they know every word of the song.
“I’m really excited about it…but, I mean, you don’t think I’d get in trouble if I played it now? Probably not, right?” Swift teased the thousands of screaming concertgoers who packed Auckland, New Zealand’s Vector Arena last night.
She then launched into a solo acoustic rendition of “Eyes Open” that began with the refrain: “Everybody’s waiting/Everybody’s watching/Even when you’re sleeping/Keep your eye-eyes open.”