Monday, February 24, 2014

Bad Colds Suck

This is what I look like when I'm sick

Okay so I've had this cold/flue since about Tuesday of last week and it hasn't let up at all. I go from having a sore throat to feeling feverish and achy, to having a splitting headache, to feeling like I might be on the mend and then the experience repeats itself. Needless to say if you have to get one cold this year, try not to get this one!

What's new you may be asking? Well considering it's been forever in a day since I posted anything on here, a whole lot has happened actually. A close loved one had to have a pretty serious surgery so that necessitated my traveling back to my home state of Michigan twice. Which was great in a way because I got to reconnect and bond with family. On top of all that, I no longer have my contract job! Which actually is a blessing in disguise believe it or not. Now I can focus on my personal creative pursuits while I search for full time employment. I dug the work I was doing before, but it was far too sporadic at the end, and then I found out I'd been let go when my work email got changed(while I was working!) and wasn't even told my services were no longer required until the following day after I sent 2 emails requesting information! So yeah, freedom!!! Through all this - I gotta tip my hat to my incredible wife who also started a new job at an incredible ad agency. I have to admit to being pretty damn jealous of her since it's an awesome place with great people. But, I know I'll find where I belong, just gotta push forward!

All this leads me to today where I feel like my head has been filled up with 1040 weight motor oil and shook up. I'm kinda dizzy. I'm kinda loopy. But that should make for an interesting post! What is today's post about? Well given that I'm a movie nut, and the Oscars are right around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to review the Best Picture contenders. See, the Oscars always have a controversial time when it comes to picking the Best Picture of said year. Some are right on the money(The Hurt Locker), others play it too safe and choose something lame(Shakespeare In Love), and then you get years where given what the other films nominated were, the Best Picture winner is just bat shit insane (Crash).

This year the 2014 Oscar nominees for best picture are Her, American Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, and The Wolf of Wall Street. That's right, nine movies all in the running for the top spot to be called "The Best Picture Of The Year!" Are they really the best picture of the year? Whose to say. It's subjective. Personally, the best movie I saw this year that has provided me tons of replay value and hours of entertainment was Pacific Rim, but that one isn't exactly a Best Picture caliber movie, even I have to admit that!

My reviews for these are going to be brief since A: there are so many of them, and B: I only have 5 days to recap 9 movies! That means I'll be recapping an average of two movies a day, which for me is pretty ambitious. First up and the only one for today, American Hustle.

American Hustle follows the true story of of a group of con artists who are roped in by the FBI to help them put the finger on crooked congressmen who were taking bribes during the 70's. Featuring top tier performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and a fantastic turn from Jeremy Renner and directed by David O. Russell, this movie is a heck of a great ride! The story starts out following Christian Bale as Irving, an overweight con artist that has been scamming people for years while perfecting his comb over. In the process he trains his lady on the side, Amy Adams as Sydney. She is sexy, ambitious, and can nail a British accent in order to dupe people into believing she has London banking connections that can secure them loans. Only, they don't get them the loans and collect their fees in the process. At the same time, Irving is married to Jennifer Lawrence's character Rosalyn who can simply be described as a hot mess. Enter Bradley Cooper as FBI Agent Richie DiMaso, who catches Irving and Sydney in the act and fingers them into going to work for him and the FBI snagging corrupt politicians that are looking to skim a little off the top. This is where Jeremy Renner's Carmine Polito shows up as an ambitious local New Jersey Meyer who is willing to do anything to save and revitalize Atlantic City.

The movie is quite simply extremely entertaining and the performances from this incredible cast are outstanding; so it's no wonder that it's up for Best Picture. Christian Bale in particular nails his role as does Amy Adams whom both are up for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively - whether or not they'll earn those awards is anyone's guess, but their participation is what helps propel this movie upwards to great heights of movie making. That's not to take anything from Jennifer Lawrence who delivers another Oscar nominated outstanding performance, as does Bradley Cooper whose recent work has really turned my perception of him. He got his start basically playing the "handsome asshole" in a variety of movies and because of that, he was just that to me, a "handsome asshole." However, after Silver Linings Playbook, as well as The Place Beyond The Pines and an entertaining run in The A-Team, this guy is an actor that's delivering performances worth watching. But for me the standout performer here is Jeremy Renner as Meyer Carmine Polito. In every scene he's in, you see and feel his character's desperation to do the right thing not only for himself and his family, but for everyone that he meets on the street, and he's willing to do anything and everything to achieve that goal. What I've read about the real life Carmine Polito - Angelo Errichetti, this is extremely accurate to the man.

While based in part on true events, you have to realize this is a con movie at heart. Like The Sting, Matchstick Men, or any numerous other great con artist film, what you're seeing on screen, isn't necessarily everything you're seeing. There is a lot in the small details; a slight turn of phrase, a sideways glance that speaks volumes. Director David O. Russel does an incredible job keeping the audience engaged in every aspect of what's happening while keeping them at arms length so when the real con hits, you don't see it coming! I love movies like this where it keeps you guessing about what happens while also making you feel like you're in on it. Do I think this is the best of the best of the bunch? Hard to say since I haven't yet seen all of the Best Picture nominees! But if I can say one thing about this one that bodes well for it, it is that I will be watching it many more times to come.
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