After watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 the other day it dawned on me that David O. Russell is trying to pull a Scorsese-meets-Tarantino stunt.
His latest film, American Hustle, is an attempt to either marry the two styles together or tightrope somewhere in between.
He sucks on both counts. He mimics well, but doesn’t pull it off. He yanks but doesn’t jangle. He tugs and jerks but doesn’t climax.
The reasons are two. The first is that he doesn’t have it in him. His style is best suited for the more straightforward-cum-slightly-quirky story lines of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, with their dysfunctional families and their constant arguing and bickering, the snappy dialog and the ego bruising that go with it.
Not that it’s bad — on the contrary, he’s very good at that type of films, which is an enjoyable type of films. They were entertaining, endearing and well-executed.
He should stick to them.
The second reason Russell’s latest film sucks is that he doesn’t command the necessary skills to pull off colorful epics a la Tarantino and Scorsese.
Tarantino at his best had outrageous characters, ingenious editing and stupendous soundtracks going for him.
Russell has caricatures, a couple of scissors, and a 70′s tape made by his uncle’s sister-in-law.
Scorsese created epics that sucked you in and wouldn’t let go until they had punched every bag in your head and tested every emotional wall in your soul while keeping their fun and cool.
Russell’s American Hustle is, well, nothing more than a hustle.
I guess it’s back to the old play book for Russell. Though the audience doesn’t seem to agree. They seem to like his latest yank-prank.
And the mediocrity rises in the wake of the giants, as midgets stand on the audience’s fallen standards, screaming ‘I’m the king of the modern epics.’
PS – Director of the year and new rising star: Steve McQueen. A talent with vision.
A director with the ability to play into his strengths, cranking it up a notch with every movie, telling solid, challenging, emotionally-compelling stories.