Posts Tagged Bradley Cooper
The film, “American Sniper” made me deeply uncomfortable. It is perhaps one of the most honest depictions of the Iraq war and perhaps of the uncertainty and trauma of any war. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle had an uncanny ability to spot and shoot his target with pinpoint accuracy. His mission was to protect his “brothers-in-arms” who were going door to door, capturing or killing insurgents, and collecting huge caches of arms. Kyle saved countless American lives, but he was also a prime target of insurgents.
Despite serving in most harrowing, nerve wracking, and violent situations, Kyle went back, again and again; he served a total of 4 tours of duty in Iraq. Unlike some of his comrades, for a very long time, Kyle was not disillusioned and was not questioning the usefulness and the lofty vision of the war in Iraq. Yet, like others, after every tour of duty, Kyle had a hard time adjusting to civilian life and he yearned to go back and “be there” for the soldiers who counted on him. After the 4th tour of duty, Kyle finally seemed to have had enough of war but was having even a tougher challenge adjusting to civilian life at home.
Performance of Bradley Cooper as Kyle is flawless. Sienna Miller as Kyle’s wife also gives a riveting performance. This movie is clearly Director Clint Eastwood’s masterstroke. The movie made me so uncomfortable that I wanted to leave. Another movie in recent memory that had similar effect on me was “12 Years, A Slave”. The fact did not escape me that if I just wanted “it” to end, if I felt traumatized watching the movies, then how intensely traumatizing the experience must be for the people living “it”. For many, the effects of trauma of being in a war, continue to wreak havoc and take a toll on them and their families, for years to come.
American Sniper is creating a stir about futility of this war and I won’t dwell on it more here, except to say that wars are ugly. As I have previously said in my review of Sue Diaz’s book, also based on true events surrounding her son, Seargent Roman Diaz serving in the Iraq war, “Minefields of the Heart” http://bit.ly/Zryxpt, — Wars impact families, relationships, the very fabric of our society, on a scale so large, create craters of anguish so deep, that very little might justify being engaged in one and that little ought to be immensely carefully considered. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.7.
The movie “American Hustle” is based on a series of real events that took place surrounding what was dubbed as the Abscam Washington scandal that rocked the nation during 1970s. American Hustle is a movie about quintessential hustle for money, power, royalty, plunging necklines, head full of hair, and ego and power, characteristic of the capitalistic west. Director David O. Russell has done a brilliant job, and the movie has a stellar cast to represent all the memorable characters. Entry of each character scales what is at stake and builds the excitement. Here is a spoiler alert for the entire review below.
SPOILER ALERT * * * *
The movie begins with the story of a brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (superbly played by Christian Bale) who figures out “how easy it is to take money from desperate people”. Rosenfeld is hilarious, subscribes to his own set of principles, and is obsessive about his hair. (He is not the only one obsessing about hair but more on that later). Rosenfeld decided he needed a partner with some polish and finesse to grow his con business. He promised to secure mega loans for his trusting clients, some of whom got duped twice.
Amy Adams is superb in her role as Rosenfeld’s partner in crime, Sydney Prosser, who later becomes his mistress. To their clients, she goes by as a Brit, Lady Edith. She is nobility; smart, successful, flashy, and beautiful, who meticulously curls her hair, and dresses in exquisite clothes with plunging necklines. While enabling her lover, Prosser was not fully aware of the extent of his crime, until the feds targeted her and had a warrant for her arrest.
And so enters another colorful character, FBI agent Richie Di Maso (played by brilliant Bradley Cooper). Di Maso promises to drop charges against Rosenfeld and Prosser, if Rosenfeld would work with the FBI to uncover a bigger crime, involving politicians and other public figures. Rosenfeld agrees and the trio become new partners in crime with a goal to “trap” other high profile figures. If obsession with hair is any indication of vanity, DiMaso is as obsessed with hair as his other two partners. He is also obsessed with getting as many convictions as possible, regardless of costs in money or ethics or relationships. Lavish schemes are hatched, meetings are organized, money needs are identified, and Di Maso cajoles, begs, promises success and ultimately succeeds in convincing his budget conscious superiors to shell out money for a grand front, replete with dome Perignon, authentic Louis XVI furniture, and even rented Lear Jet with (Mexican American FBI agent Michael Pena) ridiculously funny, fake Arab Sheik.
The target of elaborate scheme to entrap the rich and famous begins with the beloved, popular, and family man; the charismatic Mayor of New Jersey, Carmine Polito (played beautifully by Jeremy Renner) and eventually involves several politicians and Mafia bosses, including notorious and violent Mafia overlord Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro).
Even from such a stellar cast, Jennifer Lawrence manages to steal the thunder in her role as Rosenfeld’s wife. Her husband refers to her as “Picasso of passive-aggressive karate”. With her passive aggressive tactics, she holds Rosenfeld tightly on a leash, so he cannot leave her, but she isn’t afraid to hook up with a mafia underling and naively spills secrets, almost giving away the FBI sting operation.
I think enough secrets are spilled here. Watch the movie to learn about the scandal where the FBI agent himself got caught up in ego and greed and kept raising the stakes, a scandal that in the end trapped him in his own greed; a scandal that resulted in real-life, in sixteen convictions, and brought down famous people, hustling to acquire more of everything they had plentiful. With terrific star power, fantastic mix of mystery, evil, greed, and comic relief, this can quite possibly be the best movie of the year. I rate it a 4.8 on a 1 to 5
scale, with 5 being excellent.
After Jacki Weaver (as Pat’s mother), picks him up from the institution and brings him home, his father (played by Robert DeNiro), is unsure if his son will make a good transition, out of the institution, but towards the end, he gives the only advise that was needed to get his son to stop his girlfriend from walking away, “Let me tell ya. You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back… I’m telling you.” Chris Tucker, as Pat’s friend, is so cool, even in his short role. And it is the community that helps Pat heal. Anupam Kher, is splendid in his role as non condescending and compassionate, optimistic and also realist therapist.
I loved this movie, not the least because I love happy endings. I strongly adhere in life, to the power of love. “Life is random and fucked-up and arbitrary, until you find someone who can make sense of it all for you— if only temporarily.” When life throws its own curve balls and drives you crazy, the ultimate healing does not come from therapy sessions, institutions, drugs or discipline, but from love and affection and kindness and from play – music, dancing, sports. This movie has it all; beautifully woven together!