Director David O. Russell begins "Joy" humorously with a staged, exaggerated soap opera, an introduction that prepares the viewer for some of the tone and melodrama that follows. Text on the screen announces, "Inspired by true stories of daring women. This is one of them," followed by voiceover narration from Joy's grandmother Mimi describing Joy's complicated, problematic family life.
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.
Amidst the many father-son conflict and reconciliation films, Being Flynn stands out with its multidimensional physical and psychological layers. They include the struggles of Nick Flynn, the 20 something son of absent, alcoholic father Jonathan Flynn. Nick's floundering, trying to establish a life at just the moment that his father reenters it, at first purposely and then accidentally.
Some films strain too obviously and nakedly toward profundity, and Stone qualifies in that category. Corrections officer Jack Mabry must certify the rehabilitated state of Gerald "Stone" Creeson, who, aided by his shameless wife Lucetta, proves adept at manipulative mind games.