Reviews of The Great Beauty & American Hustle

Glib Reviews Of Recently Released DVDs

Over the weekend I watched two extremely well done movies, one I liked more than I thought I would, based on the trailer, and another that i was sure I would love that left me a bit cold, despite how well done it was.

Those two films are “American Hustle” Directed by David O. Russell, and "The Great Beauty," Directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

Both films are homages to Italian Directors, well, one Italian American Director, and one Italian Director. The Great Beauty is as close to an actual Fellini film as we have had since the Great Master of Cinema, Federico Fellini died in 1993. American hustle, is an homage to Martin Scorsese and his films like Casino, Goodfellas, and so on. 

Both films lack the actual gravitas of the films they are paying homage to, but are still very good pictures in their own right. A lot of praise has been heaped on Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, but she’s a wisp of smoke if you compare her to Amy Adams in the same film. Adams role is much meatier in my opinion, and for me she’s the best thing in the movie. Christian Bale’s combed over DeNiro impression is as good a DeNiro impression as has ever existed outside of the odd moment on SNL. It was a bit jarring to see him (Spoiler!) doing a DeNiro stare off with an also follical-ly challenged Bobby D, himself.

Weird Meta Moments from the aforementioned DeNiro lately, in Besson’s lukewarm “The Family,” DeNiro plays a mobster who deconstructs Goodfellas to a bunch of French Film enthusiasts. In this movie, another actor is playing him, playing a con man, to his own gangster. I’m watching for more of these meta moments in future Bobby D films.

The Great Beauty, on the other hand has all the joie de vivre and the usual super charming schmucks at its core, just like a Fellini film, like say Nights of Cabiria or 8 & 1/2. Beauty however sometimes gets overwhelmingly sleepy with its hypnotic club scenes. I could play those scenes over and over again on a loop. The main character ‘Jep,’ (Toni Servillo) is no Marcello, but then no one is, other than Marcello. He does have a great ‘hang dog look’, maybe the best hangdog face in all of cinema these days, as he proved in his stellar performance in Sorrentino’s “Il Divo,” a few years ago. 

Neither film is as great, i think as some folks are saying, nor are they as bad as their detractors might say. Working in a Video store, I find there are a lot of folks who either love or hate “American Hustle,” but more love, than hate, and The Great Beauty, is universally, as far as I can see, lauded as great cinema. i’d say both films are really good, but that Great beauty edges out ‘Hustle’ in terms of do I want to watch it again: sooner or later? Both films seem on one viewing to be pictures that like ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ will require multiple viewings for my opinion to be settled.  For now though I will not hesitate to recommend either film. 

American Hustle

7.99999 Eeerie and kind of creepy Robert Deniro impressions outta 10

The Great Beauty

8.5 moments of character development told through extended scenes of disco dancing outta 10


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