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American Hustle

Friends and colleagues have urged me that my innate dislike of contemporary American films could be cured by The Wolf of Wall Street or American Hustle . I saw the latter and it was not.

Its a con/caper movie and the first rule of such a genre is that the audience is fooled. You have that inevitable discussion as you leave “I really did not see the scam”.  Here it is all rather obvious as the commen and woman are not that skilled. Christian Bale plays con-artist Irving Rosenfeld, Amy Adams his side-kick  Sydney Prosser, Bradley Cooper FBI Agent Richard Tommaso all play out elaborate strategies designed to deceive each other. However the best performance is from Jennifer Lawrence as Mrs Rosenfeld, an out of control drunk. It – and an excellent soundtrack of sixties and seventies hits – made the two hour, seven minute, length just about bearable .

Both films have liberal use of the F-word. In the case of The Wolf  it’s used 526 times. I would think American Hustle runs it close. However its vulgarity was not my issue. The reason why I prefer a French movie is that I can relate to the story line. We are often told by the American film marketing department that the story of a film  actually happened, but it did not. Captain Phillips was sued by the crew for being within 250 miles of the Somali coast not, as the boat should have been, 600 miles away. I simply cannot believe that an obvious hustler could befriend and scam an ambitious local politician so easily. Or that an FBI agent is taken by a cod British accent that she is Lady Edith. I cannot deal with the paradox that what happened did not happen, could not happen and what I see does not touch my own life. Whereas in the French film Nathalie husbands do have affairs, wives have ingenious ways of getting even that go wrong and escort girls get up to wily manoeuvre,s all well-acted and credible.

Yesterday my brother dropped round for some family business. We took time off as I showed him my favourite scene in Raid on Entebbe. We decided to watch the whole film: beautifully acted and directed. It could not have possibly happened. How can you fly a small army 2500 miles, land it at foreign airport, rescue the hostages with minimal losses (except tragically Yanni Netanyahu, elder bother of Benjamin) and get them back to Israel safely? But it did.


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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts