When a film begins in its opening seconds with these words on the screen, "Some of this actually happened," humorous playfulness is on the way. And "American Hustle" does not disappoint with its stellar cast, often playing against type, and a delightfully mischievous approach to the con game.
"Out of the Furnace" wants to be a blue collar, gritty film, and it succeeds. Set in Braddock, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) in 2008, the future for the steel mill workers looks about as bleak as the sky and the town. Two brothers pursue different paths: Russell still employed at the mill, younger Rodney floundering, heading off to Iraq.
Sometimes a franchise runs too long, becoming repetitive and joyless. That’s the feeling I had sitting through the nearly three hours of The Dark Knight Rises in which even the villain seemed depressed and, truth be told, only mildly interested in his goal to explode a nuclear device in New York.
When Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell signed on to make The Fighter, he certainly knew boxing films clichés and had no intention of merely repeating them. What he, stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo have delivered does include some obligatory moments but also probes family dynamics in surprising and gratifying ways.