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sábado, 18 de enero de 2014

Homage Is The Word You Are Looking For


It is not the first year I have this feeling of anticipation about all the movies released just before the Oscars (in this impossible race before the nominees are announced). The last few years, all the releases are squeezed into a few weeks, to leave us with nothing else to watch for the rest of the year. I am happy to live with this high season of cinema, if what comes to the screens is going to impress me and leave me with a good taste in my mouth for the next few months.

I went to see Silver Linings Playbook in the cinema last year (and recently again, in the First Fortnight Festival). I really enjoyed the movie both times. I thought Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (Golden Globe for her role last year) delivered better than fine performances. Their acting and chemistry are some of the best things about the movie, which eventually falls into a happy/easy end. But we can forgive that, we do want those two characters to have a second chance in life, don’t we?

I always thought David O’Russell movies had a weird logic to them. I also thought that logic got in the way of people caring about his characters; at least I remember feeling that way with I Heart Huckabees, and this same thing I have confirmed with American Hustle. I believe O’Russell is also an amazing actors’ director. But I find his original stories do not make you fall in love with the people in them, but make you conscious, all the time, they are just characters.

As one of the favourite pictures for the Oscars, and also in the Golden Globes, I wanted to like American Hustle. I wished to find a well written movie I could appreciate and enjoy. The cast performances are impeccable, from the more discussed roles of Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence, to Amy Adams or Jeremy Renner, although I thought of Bradley Cooper to be too histrionic this time. I did find most of them quite authentic as an ensemble in this charade, as part of this homage to the late 1970's and Scorsese.

I did appreciate the art of camouflage that most actors practised successfully in the film. The disguising into a con man, a British femme fatale, an arsonist housewife or the New Jersey’s Mayor is convincing. The story they are involved in, not so much. And I am almost sure this is not because of an improbable plot, but more due to the fact the movie lacks narrative rhythm. The pace in which the story develops did not engage me as a viewer.

The soundtrack however did at times, as it offers some musical treasures of all time: the disco, but not outdated, Donna Summer’s I feel love; the popular Delilah by Tom Jones or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John, to name some of my favourites. So, I guess you could say American Hustle is a fantastic fancy dress party, where the music helps in creating evocative scenes and some of the best atmospheric moments in the cinema of 2013.

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