Friday, January 3, 2014

Movie Reviews: American Hustle, Grudge Match and Her

   American Hustle

     Rated R

Loosely based on the Abscam debacle of 1980, American Hustle is a pleasure to watch.  Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale-complete with a beer belly and comb over) and his mistress, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are forced to work with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).  Initially, they set out to catch small time con artists, but end up dealing with politicians (including Jeremy Renner as New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito) and mobsters (there’s an unbilled cameo by one of Hollywood’s most respected actors).  Jennifer Lawrence gives a spellbinding performance as Irving’s unbalanced wife, Rosalyn.

This movie is entertaining, engrossing and funny.  The scene where Irving fixes his hair is worth the admission by itself, and it was fun to see the characters’ outrageous fashions, especially the men’s hair and outfits.  American Hustle is a must-see!

   Grudge Match

     Rated PG-13

I went into this movie with pretty low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro are retired boxers. Henry “Razor” Sharp and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (respectively) who shared a fierce rivalry before Razor Sharp abruptly retired thirty years earlier.  After brawling while being recorded for a video game, promoter Dante Slate (Kevin Hart) sets up a rematch between the two.

Not just a boxing movie, Grudge Match also focuses on relationships; mainly between Razor and his ex-girlfriend, Sally (Kim Basinger, who is preternaturally beautiful at the age of 60) and between The Kid and his newly discovered son.  Dante and Lightning Conlon (Alan Arkin) provide so comic relief to break the tension.  Seeing this movie is an entertaining way to spend the evening!


     Rated R

Joqauin Phoenix stars as Theodore, a sensitive professional letter writer who begins a relationship with Samantha, his computer’s artificially intelligent operating system.  Dysthymic after the break up of his marriage, Theodore’s and Samantha’s “relationship” begins as a friendship and morphs into more as Samantha’s playfulness lifts Theodore out of his depression.

This movie poses some thoughtful questions about the role of computers in future society.  Of course most people would fall in love with something specifically tailored to their personality, but will computers provide better relationships than human-to-human interactions?  Is there anything wrong with falling in love with an inanimate object?  Will computers ultimately replace humans?

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