Tag Archives: Jennifer Lawrence

Joy ***

“Joy” is another enjoyable entry in to this career resurgence that David O’Russell is experiencing. Whether or not it becomes another smash hit at the box office as well as a critical darling remains to be seen. I found it to be a solid biopic. O’Russell is a master at taking indie stories and making them mainstream and accessible to general audiences.

Jennifer Lawrence turns in a great performance as the woman who invented the miracle mop. The road to her thriving business was bumpy at first due to her meddling family and some potential fraudsters. Robert De Niro steals every scene he is in as Joy’s sometimes loving and sometimes cold father.

I enjoyed all of this story in an entertainment level. Did it fully engage me on an intellectual level? I’m not quite sure yet but I do think that O’Russell and his team have another hit on their hands.


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American Hustle ***1/2

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“American Hustle” is the latest from director David O. Russell, who is experiencing a career resurgence in recent years. After directing the great “Three Kings” in 1999, he directed one movie in the following decade and then basically fell off the map. Suddenly he has re-emerged with a vengeance in the last three years with flicks like “The Fighter”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and now “American Hustle”.

“American Hustle” is a terriffic film in many ways. The writing, acting and directing are all superb. I will admit that there are moments didn’t seem to fit and the film could of had a few scenes edited out, but is is still an engrossing movie. It is a sprawling story that follows a large ensemble that Russell directs almost effortlessly.

The story is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation that took place in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The result was the prosecution of many politicians and public officials.

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner all turn in some terrific performances. I love when a talented cast is assembled and given great dialogue to work with.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ***

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I was pleasantly surprised by “The Hunger Games” last year. I was quick to assume that it would be a “Twilight” or “Harry Potter” clone but it was not. Director Gary Ross adapted the material in to a fairly raw and dramatic tale. Francis Lawrence is the director this time and takes it even further in to what is shaping up to be an entertaining franchise. Attempts are made to make the stakes even higher than they were in the original film and I fully appreciate that.

The story this time follows Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the co-winners of the previous Hunger Games, as they make the rounds, pretending they are in love so that the government does not have to execute them. Apparently it is against the law to have two winners. In the background is the general population who are on the verge of rebellion. The government then wants Peeta and Katniss to get married so that the people think that her actions were out of love as opposed to defiance of the government. This results in a second Hunger Games where the contestants are all previous winners, including Peeta and Katniss. Sort of like an All Stars Hunger Games.

When we reach the games we realize almost immediately that it is worse then the Tributes initially thought. Not only are they all previous winners, but the arena is plagued with hidden dangers and booby traps.

I am surprised at how caught up in this series I have gotten. I actually care about the characters and whether or not they survive. That is a credit to the actors, writers and directors who have done a great job at adapting the material. I am looking forward to the next chapter.

Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2

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“Silver Linings Playbook” is the latest film by David O. Russell. It is a wonderful, screwball, romantic comedy, full of performances that just leap off the screen.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat Solitano, who has bipolar disorder. As the movie opens he is released from a mental health facility in to the care of his parents. He is currently separated from his wife Nikki who also has a restraining order against him. His father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), is out of work and has resorted to bookmaking to earn some extra cash. He is obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles. His mother Dolores, played by Jacki Weaver, has spent many exhaustive year putting up with these men.

Pat eventually meets Tiffany Maxwell played by Jennifer Lawrence. She is a young widow and former sex addict. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd friendship through their shared mental issues. Pat also sees an opportunity to communicate with Nikki. She offers to deliver letters to her for Pat if in return he will become her dance partner in an upcoming dance competition.

Sounds pretty wild when you read it but the film is actually a sharp character study about some very disturbed yet loveable people. Cooper and Lawrence in particular give such magnetic performances. Cooper in particular really breaks out of his type casting here and creates a truly original character. Lawrence reveals a different side of herself as well.

David O. Russell has a real knack for directing actors and getting great performances. His last movie was “The Fighter”, which was a pretty generic sports movie made interesting from its electric characters. Here we have the outlines of what could of been a pretty generic comedy that also rises above it’s material with bizarre performances. This is the best romantic comedy in years.

House At The End Of The Street *

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“House At The End Of The Street” is a pretty lame horror movie. It is just a lazy screenplay full of false alarms, hammy dialogue, and a predictable story. I could barely get through this movie to be honest. I stuck with it because of Jennifer Lawrence, who does what she can with her role but ultimately cannot save this movie.

The story involves the standard issue creepy house where once upon a time a murder took place. Years later, Jennifer Lawrence and her mom played by Elizabeth Shue move in across the yard. You can see where this is going? If you can’t then you obviously have not seen as many horror movies as I have.

I am going to assume that this movie was produced just before she became a big star with the release of “The Hunger Games”. Thankfully this will not slow down her career. It is simply a bump in the road.

The Hunger Games ***

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I have to admit that I had never heard the book that “The Hunger Games” is based off of. Apparently it is fairly popular considering the movie made over 400 million dollars during its run in theaters. I passed on seeing it in the theaters as the trailers really did not inspire me to spend money on a ticket. After seeing it at home I can say that it is a fairly well made film with some good solid performances and that it doesn’t fully pull it’s punches when it comes to the violence.

The story takes place in a dystopian future where classes have grown so far apart that the poor must battle to the death to win food for their colony as well as to amuse the rich people.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss, the decides to fight in the games in place of her younger sister who was selected after a random draw. But there is more than just the selecting combatants and putting them in to the ring. There is a promotional tour where the viewers can get to know the selectees as well as rank them for those who want to bet on the games.

I was surprised at the games themselves. The movie was rated PG-13 so I assumed the violence would be watered down or so frantic that you could not see it properly but that isn’t the case. There are some particularly brutal moments that probably should of garnered an R rating but the studio probably lobbied the MPAA so that they could maximize their ticket sales.

The director is Gary Ross, who brought us titles like “Seabiscuit” and “Pleasantville”. He gives us a good sense of scope without sacrificing character or story. Overall it is not a great movie but it is better than the advertising suggests.

The Hunger Games ***

20120824-173912.jpg

I have to admit that I had never heard the book that “The Hunger Games” is based off of. Apparently it is fairly popular considering the movie made over 400 million dollars during its run in theaters. I passed on seeing it in the theaters as the trailers really did not inspire me to spend money on a ticket. After seeing it at home I can say that it is a fairly well made film with some good solid performances and that it doesn’t fully pull it’s punches when it comes to the violence.

The story takes place in a dystopian future where classes have grown so far apart that the poor must battle to the death to win food for their colony as well as to amuse the rich people.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss, the decides to fight in the games in place of her younger sister who was selected after a random draw. But there is more than just the selecting combatants and putting them in to the ring. There is a promotional tour where the viewers can get to know the selectees as well as rank them for those who want to bet on the games.

I was surprised at the games themselves. The movie was rated PG-13 so I assumed the violence would be watered down or so frantic that you could not see it properly but that isn’t the case. There are some particularly brutal moments that probably should of garnered an R rating but the studio probably lobbied the MPAA so that they could maximize their ticket sales.

The director is Gary Ross, who brought us titles like “Seabiscuit” and “Pleasantville”. He gives us a good sense of scope without sacrificing character or story. Overall it is not a great movie but it is better than the advertising suggests.