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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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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas