Tag Archives: David O. Russell

Joy (2015) Review

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Joy

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano
Robert De Niro as Rudy Mangano
Edgar Ramirez as Tony Miranne
Diane Ladd as Mimi
Virginia Madsen as Terri Mangano
Isabella Rossellini as Trudy
Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker
Director: David O. Russell

A story of a family across four generations, centred on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

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Joy was a movie which didn’t initially interest me because its premise wasn’t very interesting but its cast and its director made me curious about it. Before watching it, I noticed it hadn’t gotten quite the praise that David O. Russell’s previous films have received and had mixed reviews. After seeing it I can say that while it’s not a bad movie, Joy was a little disappointing. The performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence was good, the direction was decent and the writing for the character of Joy is good. But the writing for the overall story wasn’t always strong and the supporting characters were too two dimensional, which really brought the movie down.

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The plot for this movie was fine, it wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t invested in what was going on as much as I should’ve. The movie is also a little shaky at the start, it didn’t really know how to start off the movie. Eventually the movie did fix itself over time and it knew what sort of movie it was going for. The writing for the character of Joy is great (which elevated Jennifer Lawrence’s performance), the same can’t be said for the other characters. These supporting characters felt too much like movie characters and never did feel like real people, which is a real shame since David O. Russell is usually great at having interesting characters. A lot of the time, many of the scenes with these supporting characters got annoying as they really were just generic movie characters with no real rhyme or reason for their actions.

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Jennifer Lawrence as Joy is definitely the best part of the whole movie and she had the benefit of having the best interesting writing. Joy is the most complex, interesting, entertaining and likable character in the movie, in fact she’s probably the only likable character in this movie. Even though I had issues with the writing of the characters, the supporting actors like Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper gave good performances with what they have. It’s just a shame that their characters aren’t as well written as they should be.

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Even with all its flaws, one thing I can say is that this film is well directed and the technical side of the movie is pretty good. The look was great and the style was also pretty good and worked for the film, which I think is something that David O. Russell is great at, it’s strange that he couldn’t do that with everything else.

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Joy isn’t by any means a bad movie. It does have some good performances, most notably from Jennifer Lawrence but the writing was quite flawed, not as interesting as it should be and had very underdeveloped and surprisingly one dimensional supporting characters. It is a little disappointing considering that I loved Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, both of them previous David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro collaborations. I will say that if you’re going to see this movie watch it for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, because the movie on the whole is quite flawed.

American Hustle (2013)

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American Hustle

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld
Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser
Bradley Cooper as Richie Dimaso
Jeremy Renner as Carmine Polito
Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
Director: David O. Russell

In 1978, a brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Richie makes a deal for them to help him nab four additional white collar criminals for their ultimate release without charges. Their initial target is Camden, New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), who is trying to revitalize Atlantic City as a gambling mecca, which requires an influx of investments in the millions. DiMaso pushes Irving and Sydney into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down.

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David O. Russell has made another great movie. With a masterful script, great performances and the ability to transport the audience into the 1970s, American Hustle is a great movie. It is a movie that will entertain you, surprise you and overall, it’s a movie that is really enjoyable to watch.

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The script by David O. Russell is absolutely fantastic. The story goes from a range of tones, from being hilarious to being quite tense. There was never a moment where I could predict where the movie would go next. Not making a comparison here, but there were moments in the movie that were reminiscent of Goodfellas, especially with the narrations. The narrations are actually done by multiple people here, which is a risky move but David O. Russell managed to pull it off. There are some flashbacks for some characters and they are tied in and edited very well. Every scene seemed to be interesting and entertaining. All of the characters had layers and go to many places with many emotions, which is made even better with the fact that their actors really understand them.

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Christian Bale is the best he has been in years, physically transformed himself by gaining a ton of weight. It’s not just the weight though; Bale gives really embodies the character that David O. Russell wrote completely. Amy Adams here is the best that I’ve seen her. Bradley Cooper is also really good here, and this just might be his best performance; it’s a tossup between this and Silver Linings Playbook. Jeremy Renner is also really good here giving one of his best performances. Jennifer Lawrence stole every scene she was in, despite her not being in the movie as much as the previously mentioned cast. There is also a surprise cameo that I won’t spoil, which is when the main characters are dealing with the mafia. The actors really played off each other really well and completely embody their characters, giving some of the best performances of their careers.

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The film really manages to make the setting feel like the 70s as well as L.A. Confidential managed to make its setting feel like it’s in the 50s. The hairstyles and costumes are really distinctive and fit the time period. The cinematography was in the style of Goodfellas, sometimes the film has longer takes, especially through narrations and it fitted the style they were going for. The soundtrack also really suits the time period and are perfect for every moment that the songs were put in.

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American Hustle is an entertaining and unpredictable movie that is at least worth a watch. There are many people who walked out of this movie, not understanding the hype that most people gave it, so I won’t guarantee that everyone will love it. However at least for me, this is an enjoyable movie, filled to the brim with great performances, excellent writing and overall ends up being a great movie.