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By DP30 david@thehotbuttonl.com

DP/30: David O. Russell does American Hustle

2 Responses to “DP/30: David O. Russell does American Hustle”

  1. Charles Brown aka Wotan says:

    Mr. Pol
    and. I read your web page and blog as a form of entertainment, including the Oscar predictions. Every 5 years or so I get the urge to send you one of my stream of consciousness commentaries.
    (First aside- I know you earn your living from this, but isn’t it now time for you or someone to comment on the absurdity of Peter O’Toole never winning one. In my view, his performance as T.E. Lawrence is the greatest single performance in the history of the cinema, with the possible exception of Maria Falconetti. Yes, Gregory Peck was not going to lose for To Kill A Mockingbird, but Cliff Robertson over King Henry II!!?)
    My commentary this time is on the Best Supporting Actress race. The critics awards have been split between Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence and Ms. Nyong’o would appear to be the favorite, partly because it looks like 12 Years a Slave may be heading for a sweep.
    However, consider a couple of under the radar dynamics. The Oscar voters, and you, are unreconstructed liberals who believe that the race card should play a role. The quality of the performance is only one part of the dynamic. (Some other time I may send you an email on the schizophrenia of the Oscar voters when it comes to race. In the not recent past they have given Oscars to caucasians over better performances, on a quality scale, by African Americans and have many times given Oscars to African Americans who clearly did not deserve it just because of the race card. You know that is true.)
    This year Ms. Nyong’o is the favorite, but Oprah (the most powerful woman in the world) will receive a nomination. Whether Oprah campaigns for the award or not there are many voters who, when they enter the voting booth or send in their ballot, or whatever, will be compelled by their white liberal guilt to play the race card and vote for an African American. Many of those will vote for Oprah, for many reasons.
    Which leads us to J. Law. She gave her usual balls to the wall great performance in American Hustle and again blew people away. (My second aside. After seeing American Hustle I went home and watched Winter’s Bone for the umpteenth time. How can the person who was in those two movies be the same actress? J. Law is not, as I have heard numerous people say, the Meryl Streep of her generation. She is something more. She is the Robert Duvall of her generation).
    This now leads us to an analogy to the Best Actor race of 1974. Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson the two great young actors of that generation gave incredible performances that year. The Academy voters could not decide between them and thus split their vote between the two of them, allowing Art Carney to slip in and win. (Aside- Al Pacino winning his Oscar for Scent of a Woman and not for one of the Godfathers or Dog Day Afternoon- Jesus!!) The same thing could happen this year. The white liberal guilt-race card vote is split between Ms. Nyong’o and Oprah, potentially allowing J. Law to slip in, not that she would not deserve it.
    The other under the radar dynamic working against that scenario is that J. Law won last year. Many voters will be reticent to give an Oscar two years in a row to a 23 year old.
    Quite interesting- no? Wotan

  2. lee says:

    Great interview!
    I just wish DORussell wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss his earlier work. And sometimes he’s guilty of sticking to his well-tread talking points, but you did a nice job of pushing him to open up.

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DP/30

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“A shot is a story. A shot on its own should be a piece of a story. Which is why I talk a lot about watching films, even the films we’re working on, with the sound off. Just to analyze how the film works, because a film should work for an audience without any sound. The biggest problem I see is that someone may have a superficial understanding of what a shot is propositionally, but they don’t have an understanding of how all of these shots are part of a family that needs to connect, and so you’ll get something that’s like a sentence arranged poorly with six nouns in a row. That surprises me, because I think that’s something that can be learned. Some things can’t be, but that can. It’s a grammar. In a classroom I could walk somebody through the difference between a sequence in which the filmmaker has a deep understanding of how images connect, and someone who doesn’t. It’s not really an intellectual process. Some people are just born with it and are just sort of savants at that deep mathematical understanding of shot construction.  I’m better than I used to be, but there are some people I’m just never going to catch. Spielberg. His staging ability. I’m never going to catch him. But when you’re trying to figure out how to get better—I’m not competitive in the sense of looking around at other filmmakers and comparing myself to them. What I do have to think about in trying to navigate myself through a career is: what can I get better at, and what do I have that I can enhance that somebody else doesn’t have?”
~ Steven Soderbergh

“It’s not going to be huge. He and I had been corresponding for a while. When I finally met him, he said, ‘We should collaborate.’ When John Ashbery says that to you, you don’t say when, you just say yes. It has not been easy to conjure this out of nothing. Sean Price Williams and I spent time with him, and it will appear on FilmStruck before the year is out…. I have figured out how to streamline things. I still have dreams of making movies with bigger budgets, and they might be considered to have more of a voice in pop culture. I don’t want to let go of that. I also realize that you grow up a lot of your life with wishful thinking and waiting. I have figured out ways to avoid doing that. I am working on a bigger movie about Nikola Tesla, set in the past, so it is not an easy film to make. I am also working on an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s ‘White Noise.’ That seems more likely to catch fire.”
Michael Almereyda Steps It Up