Las Vegas Weekly

December 19, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

Issue link: http://www.ifoldsflip.com/i/230670

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 48 of 71

A&E | SCREEN FILM A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR Saving Mr. Banks puts a saccharine spin on a complex story > HEY, IT'S THE '70S Cooper, Bale, Adams, Renner and Lawrence show off the fashions of the times. FILM HUSTLING TOO HARD American Hustle is a casualty of its own ambitions BY MIKE D'ANGELO American Hustle opens with a sequence in which con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) painstakingly affixes a toupee to his horrific comb-over. It's an act meant to symbolize the extent to which the film's characters attempt to get others to swallow brazen lies, but it can also be read as an unintentional confession on the part of writer-director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), who here applies a thin layer of Martin Scorsese to his usual anarchic mayhem. From the multiple-voiceover exposition to the relentlessly mobile camerawork (frequently booming from across the room into a tight close-up) to the needle-drop soundtrack that plays like a '70s greatest-hits collection, American Hustle feels remarkably secondhand, though one Irving's loyalties to others have inspired a could do worse than to mimic one of the very plain-sight betrayal. best in the business. aaacc All five of American Hustle's main actors— Inspired by the FBI's Abscam operation, AMERICAN Bale, Adams, Cooper, Lawrence, Renner—are which caught numerous U.S. congressmen HUSTLE Christian having the times of their lives, and their accepting bribes from a phony Arab sheik, Bale, Amy Adams, collective vitality ensures that the movie is the film creates an uneasy alliance among Bradley Cooper. never dull. What Scorsese has that Russell Irving, the bizarrely charismatic mastermind; Directed by David sorely lacks, however, is a propulsive sense his girlfriend, Sydney (Amy Adams), who O. Russell. Rated R. of rhythm. Even when individual scenes in poses as an English aristocrat to lend cre- Opens Friday. Hustle are entertaining, there's no flow pulldence to their swindles; and FBI agent Richie ing you from one to another; every few minutes, it's as DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), with whom they agree to if someone has just hit the reset button, and the stopcollaborate on Abscam in order to keep Sydney out of start jerkiness becomes exhausting. Irving and Sydney's jail. Complicating matters considerably is the ongoing relationship, founded on a mutual sense of trust between presence of Irving's wife, a brassy troublemaker named two untrustworthy people, should be Hustle's palpitatRosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), and Irving's affection for a ing heart, but their offbeat duel keeps getting buried in New Jersey mayor (Jeremy Renner) he's helping to bust. extraneous Abscam details and irrelevant (if amusing) So thick and heavy are the cons here that when Sydney, running gags. Russell clearly believes he needs to think in character as Lady Edith, makes a play for Richie, bigger now that he's made the A-list. We don't need it's not at all clear whether she's doing so as part of an Marty Jr., though. We need him. elaborate double-cross (as she tells Irving) or whether It seems likely that P.L. Travers would have hated Saving Mr. Banks. The author of the Mary Poppins books spent 20 years denying Walt Disney the rights to make a movie based on her character, relenting only when she found herself in dire financial straits. Saving Mr. Banks burnishes the story to make Disney himself (played by Tom Hanks at his Tom Hanks-iest) the savior of Travers (Emma Thompson), rescuing her from despair and helping to resolve some of her longstanding emoaabcc tional trauma. SAVING MR. The story focuses BANKS Emma on the two weeks that Thompson, Tom Travers spent in LA Hanks, Colin in 1961, working with Farrell. Directed Disney, screenwriter by John Lee Don DaGradi (BradHancock. Rated ley Whitford) and PG-13. Opens songwriting brothers Friday. Robert (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman). Director John Lee Hancock and screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith spend an almost equal amount of time on flashbacks to Travers' childhood, in particular her relationship with her irresponsible (but lovable) alcoholic father (Colin Farrell). Nearly every objection the prim, prickly Travers (effectively embodied by Thompson) has to Disney's plans for the Mary Poppins movie ends up with a convenient one-to-one analogue in her childhood, reducing her protectiveness over her work to a severe case of daddy issues. This has to be the only movie about the creative process ever to come down against artistic integrity, and its simplistic, sentimental story does a disservice to the real people it depicts. At least when Disney butchered Travers' book, he created a classic film in the process; Saving Mr. Banks just makes his company look like sore winners. –Josh Bell DECEMBER 19–25, 2013 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM 49_Screen_2_20131219.indd 49 49 12/18/13 3:43 PM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Las Vegas Weekly - December 19, 2013
subscribe to email alerts