American Hustle Is the Pick of the Week

My mother often says I was born in the wrong decade – that I should have grown up in the ’60s. She says this because of my affinity to the music and movies of that decade and for my politics and my rather hippy idealism. Sometimes I think she’s right. When I think about all the great music – from the Beatles to the Stones, the Grateful Dead to Bob Dylan – I wish I could have been there. Sometimes I dream of attending Woodstock or political rallies, of growing my hair long, smoking pot and tuning in, turning on, and dropping out. But then I think of all the amazing things happening right now, such as the incredible technology, the great ease in work and travel, and the scientific breakthroughs, and I’m happy to be living today. Then I get pissed off at all the amazing stuff that’s going to happen when I’m dead.

One of the greatest things about living in this now of ours is that technology allows us unfathomable access to all the great art from previous decades. With the flick of a switch and a click of a button, I can pull up movies from any year that I want. With another click, I can play music that was made over the last several hundred years. I didn’t need to be born in the ’60s, man, for I can bring the ’60s to me. Nostalgia has never been so easy to recreate.

Artists have been mining the past ever since there have been artists and theres been a past. Many of the greatest movies have been set in times gone by. From Seven Samurai set in the Middle Ages to Saving Private Ryan’s harrowing account of WWII, great films have a way of bringing specific pasts to modern times.

Which brings us to this week’s pick. American Hustle is very loosely based on a real-life FBI operation which resulted in the conviction of a Senator and several members of the House of Representatives. It is set in the late 1970s, and if trailers and costumes can be believed, it absolutely adores every moment of that decade. My lord, the look and style of that film are enough to make it my Pick of the Week. It’s like That 70’s Show amped up on amphetamines and a heavy dose of LSD. Add in Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, director David O. Russell and music by Danny Elfman, and I’m ready to put on a leisure suite, hang the disco ball, and live with this movie for a month, much less a week.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Frozen: The newest Disney animated film did mad business at the box office and got good reviews across the board. There’s something about it that keeps me from being excited by it though. Perhaps its my middle-agedness, or maybe its just Disney’s poor track record of late, but I just can’t get worked up about it.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: This biopic of the recently deceased Nelson Mandela has gotten very mixed reviews, but Mandela’s story is an interesting one and with Idris Elba in the lead, I’m ready to give it a go.

The Hidden Fortress (Criterion): Kurosawa’s grand adventure is not only an amazing romp in itself, but it also inspired Star Wars, which is enough a reason to buy it on its own. You really can’t ever go wrong with Kurosawa, but this is one of the most entertaining films he ever made.

Saving Mr. Banks: I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews on this dramatized version of Walt Disney trying to make Mary Poppins the way he wanted while still retaining writer P.L. Travers’ blessing.

Kill Your Darlings: Films have tried to capture the mad genius of the Beat Generation before with mixed results. This ones got Harry Potter as Allen Ginsberg which intrigues me enough to watch.

Mat Brewster

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