Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver-Linings-Playbook-Poster
Image rights belong to The Weinstein Company

Silver Linings Playbook – Film Review

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker

Director: David O Russell

Synopsis: As a former mental institution patient moves back in with his parents and seeks to make amends and rebuild his life, he comes into contact with a woman who has also been battling her own problems.

Review: You would think that if you were about to sit down and watch a film about someone having emerged from a mental institution seeking to turn his fortunes around in life, then said film would struggle to find its feet and its voice as a comedy, with very few laughs. Well you couldn’t have been more wrong, because in the capable hands of screenwriter and director David O Russell, adapting from the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, this romantic comedy packs plenty of heart, drama and unsurprisingly comedy into its 2 hour run time, and it does all this extremely effectively.

Pat Solitano (Cooper) is a man who has just come out of a mental institution after seeing his marriage hit the rocks and fall apart. But after his release, he is looking up, and feeling confident of making amends and moving forward. This is until he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a woman who is going through her own set of problems. When she comes onto the scene, things begin to take an interesting turn as these two begin to realise that they have a lot more in common than they care to think.

After the success that was his 2010 film, The Fighter, a film with a tremendously strong cast, Russell again manages to put together  another very strong cast all of whom excel in their roles. You have Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver as Pat’s wacky parents who are doing their best to help Pat rebuild his life, with a surprisingly funny and effective performance from Chris Tucker too. Yet, it is the performances of our two leaders in Cooper and Lawrence that truly steal the show. Their chemistry together is electric to watch and they have more than a few very memorable scenes together, with one scene in a diner standing out by far among many terrific scenes.

The film became the first film since 1981 to secure nominations in all four acting categories, and was the first since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby to be nominated for the Big Five Oscars. Lawrence was the only one to secure a trophy, and to be fair, she is the true star of the show. She manages to blend crazy antics and real heart and emotion into her performance. All of the performances are of such a very high standard, you could almost think that you weren’t actually watching a film, but real life instead. In the same year that she shot to stardom with The Hunger Games, Lawrence proved to the world that she is a force to be reckoned with, something that she is still demonstrating today. While Cooper didn’t take home the statue, his work was equally electrifying, and arguably to this day ranks as a career best performance. If it had not been for a sublime performance from Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, he might have won a statue himself.

The screenplay by Russell is equally terrific. Of course there are some dark moments that goes without saying, but there are plenty of funny and dramatic moments as well, and they all work. He manages to fuse all of these elements into the story very successfully and the story is very compelling to watch. There are highs but there are plenty of very low lows and you feel for all of the characters, as they are extremely well developed. But as the film makes a lot of effort to point out, every cloud has a silver lining, and in the case of this film, that silver lining is despite the somewhat dark subject matter, it produced one hell of a good movie that’s extremely entertaining to watch, and definitely ranks as one of Russell’s best movies.

Acted to perfection, with star performances from Cooper and especially Lawrence, with a terrific screenplay that packs heart and comedy aplenty.

a

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Joy (2015)

joy
Image is property of  Fox 2000 Pictures, Davis Entertainment Company, Annapurna Pictures, TSG Entertainment and 20th Century Fox

Joy – Film Review

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd

Director: David O Russell

Synopsis: An account of the life of Joy Mangano, and her journey as an inventor and entrepreneur, with her main invention, the Miracle Mop.

Review: To become a very successful entrepreneur, a person would need a lot of charisma, determination and a relentless desire to succeed, as well as having an obvious passion for the product or products they are hoping to bring to the market. But if you happen to have a somewhat dysfunctional family life, and find things going wrong here there and everywhere, it would almost certainly make the challenges even harder than they already would be. These are the challenges that face Joy as she aims to revolutionise the market with her invention the Miracle Mop.

A mother who refuses to get off her bed and does nothing but watch TV, ex-husband living in the basement, deadbeat dad, as well as a mother to two children, Joy has just about everything she could going against her, but through all of this, she does possess that relentlessness, that desire, and that belief in her product, and it ensures that David O Russell’s third team up with Jennifer Lawrence as the titular character is an interesting watch, but it is not all plain sailing for Joy as she bids to get her product to market, things go wrong, a lot of the time. Yet that belief and will to succeed persists her to keep going in spite of the adversity she does go through is extremely uplifting.

As she has been in her last two links up with Russell, Jennifer Lawrence is once again excellent in the main role. She possess the aforementioned charisma and relentlessness in abundance, and it’s her performance that drives the plot forward, because except for a kind of comical performance from Robert DeNiro, the majority rest of the cast are just not interesting or engaging enough for the audience to really care about. There is one exception to this, that of Bradley Cooper’s character who does a massive favour for Joy, but even then his screen time is fairly limited. This is once again the Jennifer Lawrence show, and she clearly thrives under the direction of David O Russell. It’s by no means her strongest performance under Russell’s tutelage but it ensured another Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Yet it does not have the emotional punch that the likes of The Fighter or Silver Linings Playbook had, or the brilliant ensemble cast that American Hustle boasted, with that awesome humour. The film takes its time to really get things going in the beginning, the film doesn’t quite know where it really wants to go, and is a little bit messy when it comes to its script and direction. Is it a happy film, or is it a sad film? In reality it’s probably a bit of both. Once it finds its spark, however it runs with it, and by the end there is some satisfying closure. Yet the build up in getting there was frustratingly slow. Although the film’s title is clearly referring to the main character and not the emotion, there’s not a lot of joyfulness to be found here.

A strong lead performance by Lawrence, but the film is bogged down by a lack of connection for the rest of the cast, as well as a real inconsistency in terms of the film’s tone and direction. 

b

 

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

American Hustle (2013)

All image rights belong to Columbia Pictures , Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures
Image is property of Columbia Pictures , Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures

American Hustle – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K, Michael Peña, Robert DeNiro

Director: David.O Russell

Synopsis:  Con artist partners Iriving Rosenfeld (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams) are forced into working with FBI Agent Ritchie DiMaso (Cooper). Together they target and con people such as corrupt politicians to ensure Rosenfeld and Prosser do not run into trouble with the law.

Review: 1970s America, a place with jazziness  and interesting fashion styles. Mixed in with  all this are con artists, an FBI agent and some corrupt politicians. As the film’s tagline reads “everyone hustles to survive”   In that we get a very enthralling and complex story with people hustling to make themselves a living, by any means necessary. A funny caption at the start of the film eludes to the fact that the film’s events are based on a true story, although some details may be fictitious.

The ensemble of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence were all fantastic in their roles. Russell seems to know how to get his actors to perform to their full potential. He worked with Bale and Adams on The Fighter and with Lawrence and Cooper in Silver Linings PlaybookIn both of those films the actors were people who were a bit crazy but it worked as Bale and Lawrence both won Oscars for their roles in those films with Cooper and Adams receiving nominations. Again he finds roles for these actors that suit them perfectly and everyone was on top form.

The dialogue between them was a joy to behold as it felt so natural between each character It has come as little surprise to see that the performances of Bale, Adams, Cooper and Lawrence have all been recognised as the four are all nominated for Oscars once again. Bale and Cooper for Best Actor and Supporting Actor respectively and Adams and Lawrence for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

The dialogue between the characters was so intriguing and fascinating to watch. What is happening on screen keeps you glued to the screen as you watch their schemes unfold.  As you watch the film run from scene to scene it never slows down and remains entertaining throughout.  Special praise must go to Jennifer Lawrence who just continues to have incredible success.  The Hunger Games franchise may have shot her to super stardom and into the hearts and minds of just about everyone. However, her roles under the guidance of Russell show just how versatile she is. There is one scene with her and Amy Adams in the ladies’ bathroom which just leaves you taken aback by her brilliant acting.  In spite of the fact that everyone did a stellar job in their roles, Lawrence definitely stole the show and a second Oscar could definitely come her way.

Although the plot does keep you entertained throughout the film’s running time, a lot is happening that may cause confusion for viewers. The scam that takes place is complex that it is at times not entirely clear who is conning who. You think that person is being conned, but at the same time you wonder are they being conned? The dialogue ensures the audience is focused but they may have trouble keeping up with what’s going on.   In spite of this confusion the film was a very entertaining film that kept the audience engaged throughout whilst at the same time maybe scrambling their brain cells a little bit.

David O Russell is again on top form with the directing and execution with brilliant acting from the ensemble cast. The leading ladies both bagged Golden Globes for their performances whilst the film scooped the Best Motion Picture for a Musical/Comedy. Furthermore there is a great chance the film could add one or two Oscars to its neat collection of awards.

Tremendously well acted with a terrific script and solid direction from Russell, one of the funniest movies of the year.

a