Friday, January 10, 2014

American Hustle

Lots of conversation about this one in the media. And it's a good conversation starter.

Don't think that the word 'hustle' in the title sets up a scam movie with special effects like the TV programme of the same name. This is a late seventies period piece, perfectly costumed and cast, and is at its heart a character driven thing.

Consequently the beginning is a little slow and overlong but it couldn't be too much shorter without failing to introduce these characters properly. For everyone in this movie is a bit dodgy and thus it is not obvious, until the pay-off, who is conning who. No-one controls their temper, keeps their demons closeted or goes bravely into action.

Christian Bale's con artist Irving Rosenfeld works as a bottom feeder in the scam game, until he meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) who encourages him to raise the stakes. Doing this he comes to the interest of the Feds who recruit him to catch bigger fish.

And so the big con starts as all the palm-greasers and health-threateners in public life, including some from the corridors of political power, are attracted to the idea of investing in the regeneration of Atlantic City. Who will they bribe to get the investment and work?

The audience I shared this with laughed aloud many times, possibly recalling their own failure to grasp new technology such as a microwave 'science oven'.

I loved it. Had a brief wonder as to why a soundtrack from 1978 was early 70s soft rock (plus Elton John) and a bit of disco. No punk at all although I think the Ramones would have injected a certain something.

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