westown movie theater

I went to a movie at my Brand. New. Local. Theater. on the second day they were opened. Westown Movies. Everyone working there was on the absolute top of their game, with big smiles and helpful questions. The tickets themselves were slightly lower-priced then the franchised theater I usually visit, and the refreshments looked good (especially the local treats) and were very reasonably priced.

Then we got to the theater. It was roomy and comfortable and clean. And it has that “New Car” smell. What a nice experience seeing a movie there was, and then less than ten minutes back home.

Oh–the movie? I went to see the latest Oscar bait to hit theaters. Here’s what I thought.

american hustle poster American Hustle
Director: David O. Russell
Writers: Eric Singer, David O. Russell
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Elisabeth Röhm, Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Robert De Niro

“Some of this actually happened” is how American Hustle starts. It’s very loosely based on the Abscam sting run by the FBI in the late 1970s, and the era is re-created beautifully. Wardrobe and makeup in particular were meticulous. It brings back memories.

The script is very loosely structured, with alternating voice-overs from Christian Bale’s Irving and Amy Adams’ Sydney explaining the motivations and philosophies behind what was happening on screen. But writers are told “Show, don’t tell.” And rules are made to sometimes be broken, but the overuse of this device for exposition detracted from a very well-crafted film.

Irving and Sydney work together conning small-time targets. When the FBI busts them, Agent Richie DiMaso sees it as a way to advance his career, offering to let them work off their troubles by helping the FBI catch bigger targets. But DiMaso is a wild card, and the operation turns into something none of them could have controlled, heading in ways no one anticipated.

The performances are remarkably layered and well-done from every one of the major players. It was difficult to identify with con artists and cheats, or politicians playing it less than above board, or even (for me) people who just didn’t listen when things got dangerous, and then acted stupid. So I wasn’t fond of any of the characters, even as I admired the amazing jobs done by the actors.

And remarkable they were, with special call-outs to Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Bradley Cooper as the leads, and honorable mentions to Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner (who makes you almost like a career politician).

Recommended if you enjoy watching well-crafted films and fantastic performances, not so much if you’re looking for a mindless shoot-‘em-up (my usual fare).

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