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Hammerle On…'American Hustle,' 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,' 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Robert Hammerle
January 1, 2014
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bob hammerle movie reviewsAmerican Hustle

Don’t be surprised if David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” wins Oscar’s top prize. After all, his “Silver Linings Playbook” got hustled last year.

What makes “American Hustle” a masterpiece is its raw ability to show how the art of hustling permeates our society. Christian Bale and Amy Adams, playing Bale’s mistress, are con artists who know how to bamboozle with style. Jennifer Lawrence, playing Bale’s boozy, beleaguered wife, knows how to play the game to keep her marriage together.
hammerle_hustle.jpg Bale is a sight to behold with his Donald Trump comb-over and 60-pound weight gain. As the master at the art of the hustle, he commands everyone’s attention, including yours.
Additionally, Jeremy Renner is both endearing and dynamic as a New Jersey state senator who wants to play by the rules, but knows that helping your constituents requires more than just pressing the flesh. And Bradley Cooper is a standout as an FBI agent trying to bring down everyone from Miami mob bosses to congressmen in what is called the “Abscam” scandal. Revealingly, he may be the biggest hustler of them all.
Yet it is Adams and Lawrence who steal this movie whenever they appear. They both are hot and sultry in revealing dresses ala 1978, and the moment when the aggrieved Lawrence plants a drunken, wet kiss on Adams’ lips will not soon be forgotten.

Everything works in this movie from the script to the music. It is poignant, sexy and not to be missed.

Inside Llewyn Davis

I think the world of the Coen brothers, and I wouldn’t miss any of their films. However, I must confess that “Inside Llewyn Davis” is both an extraordinarily good yet untethered film.

A folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961, Oscar Isaac is quite beguiling as Davis, and you were left wishing that the Coen brothers would have allowed him to be more than a hopeless mess. He has a career that is going nowhere, and he is left dead broke with few clothes and no place to call home. There is a good reason for his obvious depression, but he loses your sympathy right when you start to care for him.

hammerle_llewyn.jpgThe best parts of the film involve small roles by Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, playing friends of Davis who occasionally sing with him. However, it also becomes clear that Davis and Mulligan’s Jean have a well-kept secret, and it dances on the edge of destroying both of them.

On the other hand, Mulligan is superb as a caustic young woman hiding a pregnancy, and her fluent use of vulgarity is laugh out loud hysterical. She will help you forget John Goodman, appearing as a forgettable heroin addict for no identifiable purpose.

Though the film has undeniable hits and misses, you have to see it simply for the music. The songs are wonderful, and Isaac is a powerful singer. And watch for his performance with Timberlake, as it makes a confusing film memorable.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

While Will Ferrell can be very funny in lewd and crude films like “Talladega Nights” (2006) and “Campaign” (2012), he fails in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” It is demeaning, insulting, consistently offensive and tragically devoid of any humor.

What is so profoundly shocking about “Anchorman 2” is the total abandonment of any form of moral principle. This encompasses multiple scenes, not the least of which was partially displayed in the previews where Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy is sitting at a table surrounded by black relatives of a young, smart supervisor he was banging with glee.

What follows is a sadistic attempt at gutter humor as he tries to impersonate his version of a black man sitting with relatives. No matter how you slice it, it is one of the most wretched moments ever to appear on film.hammerle_anchorman.jpg

To make things even more abysmal, all of the supporting actors play dismally mentally challenged characters. As an example, Steve Carell plays Brick Tamland, a weatherman who seems to be born on another planet. You are supposed to believe that pathetic is funny, yet Carell and his colleagues become little more than a sad, one-joke mess. At times I turned my head to hide my shame.

On the upside, Christina Applegate appears as Burgandy’s beleaguered wife, the only person in the film who has a modicum of decency and common sense. Regardless, if I haven’t made it clear, I hated this movie from the very beginning.

You may laugh, but is that worth losing your pride?

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Once again, director Peter Jackson has struck gold bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s memorable novel to the silver screen. With “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” we follow Gandalf (the incomparable Ian McKellen) and his 13 dwarfs as they battle their way to recapture a lost kingdom now ruled by a dragon with a very nasty attitude.

The cinematography is a masterpiece from beginning to end. The settings are as breathtaking as the scenery from Jackson’s native New Zealand, and the movie is worth watching on that level alone.

hammerle_hobbit.jpgIt is important to note that evil haunts our battling dwarfs, and it soon becomes apparent that Saruman has re-emerged as the leader of the dark forces. However, reappearing to help our bedraggled little people is Orlando Bloom as the elf warrior Legolas.

While I sense that many women find themselves a bit enamored of this blond-haired hero, he more than meets his match by the performance of Evangeline Lilly. Here she plays Tauriel, an elf version of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. As hard as it is to believe, she is even better with a bow and arrow than Katniss, and her budding romance with one of the wounded dwarfs is central to the entire film.

Martin Freeman continues to shine as the beleaguered Bilbo, and Richard Armitage also holds his own as Thorin, the leader of our dwarf crusaders. The villains are a nasty crew, and Benedict Cumberbatch makes the hateful Smaug a villain to be feared.

The end is near, so hang on.•

__________

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
 

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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