Archive for the ‘David O. Russell’ Category

Daring Women

Joy

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Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Bradley Cooper, Elisabeth Rohm, Dascha Polanco

Director David O. Russell’s third collaboration with Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, Joy is about a feisty daring divorced young mother of two who gambles her entire life savings on her own invention of the Miracle Mop. Loosely based on the true story of Joy Mangano who invented and patented the miracle mop back in the mid-eighties, the film version is a quirky dysfunctional tale of a family who do their best to distract Joy from her primary goal, that of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Joy’s dizzy mother Terry played by Virginia Madsen is engrossed in glossy eighties soap operas while her father Rudy and greying Casanova, wonderfully played by Robert de Niro, his second appearance in a David O. Russell film after Silver Linings Playbook. Joy’s grandmother is the rock of her world, Mimi played by the irrepressible Diane Ladd (Rambling Rose).

When Rudy starts dating a wealthy Italian widow Trudy, beautifully played Isabella Rossellini in one of her most prolific roles yet, Joy seizes upon an opportunity to ask Trudy to invest in her idea of the miracle mop. However after many unsuccessful attempts to sell her product, primarily outside K. Mart, Joy’s ex-husband, the amiable Venezuelan wanna-be singer, Tony played by Edgar Ramirez (Point Break) suggests that they go and approach a Pennsylvania business man directly.

In a series of chance encounters, Joy meets the head buyer for K. Mart the suave and tough Neil Walker, underplayed by Bradley Cooper, who returns for his fourth collaboration with Jennifer Lawrence after Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and Serena. The daring Joy persuades Walker to give her a chance doing a home shopping advert where she can have the golden opportunity to sell the miracle mop to Television consumers a precursor to the Home Shopping Network. Amidst many dodgy business dealings involving elusive suppliers, Joy soon matures into a really tough business woman despite doubts by Trudy who has been her main patron and financial backer.

Joy is an uneven yet quirky film about one daring woman in particular who embraces the American dream, despite the odds and eventually through sheer tenacity succeeds into become a multi-million dollar corporate business woman who embraces the Capitalist work ethic and proves that hard work and determination certainly pays off.

As a film, Joy is by no means David O. Russell’s best work, not nearly outshining Silver Linings Playbook or American Hustle, but what makes the film so watchable and enjoyable is Jennifer Lawrence’s fantastic performance, anchoring the narrative down despite a proliferation of flighty and less reliable characters. It is also refreshing to see Robert de Niro and Isabella Rossellini share so much screen time.

Joy is recommended viewing, a fantastic feel good film with a great supporting cast and a fine truly inspiring performance by Jennifer Lawrence who as usual under the directorial guidance of David O. Russell never disappoints.

 

 

That Seventies Con!

American Hustle

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Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Shea Wingham, Robert de Niro, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Pena

Acclaimed director of Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell delivers another cinematic masterpiece with his latest film American Hustle about a couple of con artists in New York in 1978 during the Disco era. Think fabulous Seventies costumes, broad Jersey accents, big hair, the brilliantly ensemble cast of American Hustle all deliver top notch acting along with some sassy flair and loads of self-deception.

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Oscar Winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) is brilliant as  Irving Rosenfeld a two-bit con artist with a chain of dry cleaning businesses which also double as a front for selling fake art to unsuspecting New Yorkers who teams up with Sidney/Edith a sexy pole dancer turned grifter superbly played by Amy Adams (Doubt, The Fighter) at a Jersey pool party in January!

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Together the ever glamorous Edith sporting a fake British accent and the smooth talking wily potbellied Irving unveil their small scams selling unsuspecting lines of credit to gamblers, pimps and two bit hustlers. However their duplicitous lives are crossed by unstable Richie diMarso energetically played by Bradley Cooper (Place beyond the Pines), complete with a perm and a pent-up attitude who is in fact an FBI agent out to catch bigger fish from corrupt politicians to American mobsters who control the Florida casinos in Florida are looking to reinvigorate Jersey’s den of iniquity Atlantic City with its newly acquired gambling licences.

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The setting is New York, 1978 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, when the American public are distrustful of smooth taking politicians and economically hangover from a 1977 oil embargo and a costly Vietnam war. Director Russell captures the ambience of the late 1970’s Americana perfectly heavily influenced by the films of that period including The French Connection, American Gigolo and even the 007 film Live and Let Die. As the narrative unfolds a complication comes in the form of the no-nonsense confident chain smoking wife of Irving, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, a knockout performance by Jennifer Lawrence, last year’s Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook.

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American Hustle follows a cleverly scripted and elaborate plot about these four drifters and cons who not only try to out wit the FBI, the mob and a shady Jersey politician Mayor Carmine Polito a well coiffed Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy) involving shifting money for fronting an imaginary investment into the revitalization of Atlantic City casinos. Oddly enough the con also involves funds from a mysterious Abu Dhabi Sheik, comically downplayed by Michael Pena who is in fact Mexican.

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Amy Adams gives a tour de force performance as Sidney/Edith a vulnerable yet shrewd woman who can smooth talk any man out of his cash which is certainly Oscar worthy along with the rest of the brilliant ensemble cast making up regulars from David O. Russell’s two previous hit films Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter.

Alessandro Nivola (Coco Avant Chanel), Robert de Niro (Casino) and Shea Wingham (Savages, Take Shelter) also make a welcome appearance. Any viewer who experienced or grew up in the sassy disco inspired 1970’s will appreciate every aspect of authenticity of this ambiance infused con drama featuring magnetic performances by the four leads along with a witty, comic and incisive script co written by Russell and Eric Warren Singer.

American Hustle is a sophisticated sexy adult drama dripping with menace and deception, complete with a dynamic plot in the lines of Stephen Frears excellent The Grifters and Sam Mendes American Beauty. It’s the ultimate homage film about that Seventies Con featuring the unrivalled power of intention and people’s limitless capacity for survival, love and betrayal.

2012 Toronto Film Festival

2012 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

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Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

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Opening Night Film: – Looper directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt & Bruce Willis

Silver Linings Playbook

People’s Choice Award:Silver Linings Playbook directed by David O. Russell, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver & Chris Tucker

Laurence Anyways

Best Canadian Feature Film: Laurence Anyways directed by Xavier Dolan, starring ,

Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

 

Parlay of Silver Linings

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

A parlay is money won on a bet to increase the stakes. David O. Russell’s brilliant and feisty family drama Silver Linings Playbook won People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and teams up Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence with Bradley Cooper as Patrick (The Hangover, Limitless) along with Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) and Oscar winner Robert de Niro (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) as Patrick’s doting parents. Russell directed the Oscar winning 2010 film The Fighter and delivers another quirky brilliant scripted and at times frenetic portrait of a dysfunctional American family set in suburban Philadelphia.

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Cooper plays Patrick who is released by his determined mother Dolores from a court-ordered stay in a Baltimore Psychiatric Institution after serving eight months for a violent episode where he beat up his wife’s lover after walking in on them in the shower. Patrick at 37 has to go back and live with his parents which in these economic times are far from unusual. Patrick has a severe bi-polar disorder and needs to be on chronic medication to prevent any further violent outbursts. His estranged wife has a restraining order against him.

de Niro is superb as Patrick, senior the OCD father who besides dealing with his bi-polar son has problems of his own as a bookie, with no pension and is desperately trying regain the dwindled family fortune through betting on the local football matches, but is banned from the stadium. Weaver is Dolores, the doting mother who tries to maintain stability in a disorderly household coping simultaneously with a son with mental health problems and a husband with obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Patrick first plan besides getting fit is to read his estranged wife who is an English teacher’s high school syllabus starting with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, but unlike Hemingway, Patrick is always searching for the silver lining something enforced while he was in rehabilitation and is determined to reunite with his wife.

Into this dysfunctional family enters Tiffany, beautifully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, a promiscuous young woman who is traumatized by the sudden death of her husband.  Tiffany persuades Patrick to enter a Dancing with the Stars type competition in exchange for assisting him in delivering letters in an attempt to win back his wife. Silver Linings Playbook has a tightly woven script written by David O. Russell adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick and gives Cooper an opportunity to display his acting range as the frenetic obsessive and maladjusted man trying to put his life back together amidst the sometimes claustrophobic environment of his family home.

Jennifer Lawrence steals the show as the socially inept Tiffany who despite the psychological setbacks of both her and Patrick’s characters is determined to use dancing as a means of constructive therapy.

Silver Linings Playbook is more drama than comedy but Russell’s direction is imbued with a sensitivity and pace that allows the audience to sympathize with the dysfunctional characters Tiffany and Patrick amidst a community that does not quite grasp the complexities of people suffering from mental health problems such as post traumatic stress syndrome and bi polar.

The dance contest towards the end really is brilliant and offers a stage to resolve all domestic conflicts along with bringing a silver lining to this unique cinematic drama where the stakes are doubled (a parlay) and the characters are far from conventional. Chris Tucker, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz and Julia Stiles round off the quirky cast. Silver Linings Playbook is highly recommended for first rate acting a sure reason why there is such an Awards buzz. Jennifer Lawrence won a 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and walked away with the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards in February 2013.

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