If You Come At The King, You Best Not Miss

 

It was bound to happen, he’s been looking more and more like a conservative for a while now. So now they’re coming for David O. Russell, quite possibly America’s best working movie director. Russell has made some of the most beautifully twisted motion pictures, and just like Louis C.K. people are shocked to find that such essential creators are, or at least have been, pretty twisted themselves. C.K. makes jokes about the ugly thoughts most wouldn’t dare utter, David O. makes movies about an America off its rocker.

My purpose here isn’t to get into the thing that the director of The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), American Hustle (2013), and 2015’s Joy (possibly the most emphatic ode to Capitalism since Whit Stillman’s Barcelona) did a decade ago, nor do I care much to ponder on why the journalist Laura Bradley has decided to make it the public’s business; I’d rather just write a bit about a filmmaker whose movies deserve more attention from a justifiably Hollywood-weary right.

Right from the start, he displayed extraordinary talent, but with his first four pictures, it wasn’t entirely clear to what extent Russell disapproved of the confused sensibilities of his characters. I mean, sure, the protagonists are put through the ringer for good reason, but like @arahant‘s Eus Yram, it’s hard to call his character’s journey heroic, excepting Mark Wahlberg’s boy scout and Ice Cube’s troubled Christian from Three Kings. (Wahlberg might be an important part of the equation here: he’s got some darkness in his past as well.)

The other of Russell’s first four movies have us follow Jeremy Davies, Ben Stiller, and Jason Schwartzman as they play the same roles they typically play, but with the addition of some profound sexual neuroses. It’s only natural for Eus Yrams. Towards the end of this period, there were signs that the director’s imagination was making him crazy. Also probably only natural; but even though I’d hesitate to recommend Spanking The Monkey (1994) or I Heart Huckabees (2004) to anybody here, I’d still say that they were great for what they were. It’s just that they were what they were. Hollywood greenlit him. (Something-something, only natural.)

But he went nuts, fell off for a while, and came back with a fierce hit, The Fighter, starring Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo. I have no qualms with recommending this one, nor the three that followed it. I’m no film critic, I’ll leave it to the smart guys like @titustechera, @FlaggTaylor, or @catiii, if’n they’re so inclined. I only bring it up because I had the chance to meet up with a Ricochet member the other day who recommended I write more about stuff I actually care about.

Isn’t Ricochet the best! Does anybody have any thoughts? Anybody else like (or even extremely dislike) David’s movies?

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  1. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Apologies if I forgot to mention any other members who’ve written film criticism.

    I wonder if I can get @garymcvey over here, too. 😏

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Inactive
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I was more lukewarm than many about “Playbook,” but loved “Hustle.”

    Would we even be hearing about this after nine years if one of the parties wasn’t trans?

     

     

     

    • #2
  3. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I was more lukewarm than many about “Playbook,” but loved “Hustle.”

    Would we even be hearing about this after nine years if one of the parties wasn’t trans?

    I figured that might’ve had something to do with it.

    Check out The Fighter. 

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Samuel Block:

    I only bring it up because I had the chance to meet up with a Ricochet member the other day who recommended I write more about stuff I actually care about.

    Yes.

    Isn’t Ricochet the best!

    Yes.

    Anybody have any thoughts?

    Yes. But not about this, so keep up the good work.

    • #4
  5. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Samuel Block:

    I only bring it up because I had the chance to meet up with a Ricochet member the other day who recommended I write more about stuff I actually care about.

    Yes.

    Isn’t Ricochet the best!

    Yes.

    Anybody have any thoughts?

    Yes. But not about this, so keep up the good work.

    Thanks, professor!

    • #5
  6. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Samuel Block:

    Anybody have any thoughts?

    Yes. But not about this, so keep up the good work.

    Laughing my a$s off.

    (I’m not often this easily crippled by amusement, but it’s been a long day of dog-and-pony-show meetings with a major company’s cargo-cult excuse for a software management team. (No, no ponies here. I meant mules.))

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Samuel Block:

    Isn’t Ricochet the best!

    Yes.

    • #6
  7. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Apologies if I forgot to mention any other members who’ve written film criticism.

    I wonder if I can get @ garymcvey over here, too. 😏

    Sure can! Russell has always been hard to pigeonhole; he’s definitely got some conservative instincts, going way back in his career. In some ways (strange comparison coming) he reminds me of TV’s Dan Harmon (Community), another original who elicits a love-him-or-hate-him-or-both response from his actors. 

    • #7
  8. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    In some ways (strange comparison coming) he reminds me of TV’s Dan Harmon (Community), another original who elicits a love-him-or-hate-him-or-both response from his actors.

    I never saw that one but I’ve heard good things. I’ll have to take a look.

    I know Harmon from his attachment to Rick and Morty. I wonder if anybody on Ricochet’s ever written about that show… ;P

    • #8
  9. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    When ACF had a Themed Screenwriting competition, we gave a $10,000 prize each year. Some of the scripts were really good, but an awful lot of writers lived up to a stereotype about conservatives–that we’re not exactly on the ball, not up to creating popular art in the Star Wars vein, but doomed to do stuff like “If Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, and Samuel Colt were on a cloud in heaven looking down at us”. 

    • #9
  10. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Oh, and good catch on the name, Gary. I thought it was “O’Russell.” 

    Corrected. 

    • #10
  11. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Some of the scripts were really good, but an awful lot of writers lived up to a stereotype about conservatives.

    I’ve wondered about this for a while. 

     

    • #11
  12. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Oh, and good catch on the name, Gary. I thought it was “O’Russell.”

    Corrected.

    The Irish just can’t catch a break!

    • #12
  13. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Oh, and good catch on the name, Gary. I thought it was “O’Russell.”

    Corrected.

    The Irish just can’t catch a break!

    From me? Heck no!

    Italians are all the rage in Tinseltown.

    • #13
  14. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Some of the scripts were really good, but an awful lot of writers lived up to a stereotype about conservatives.

    I’ve wondered about this for a while.

    A big problem is they don’t know how to write about non-conservative subjects. Liberals can write about anything and still give it that elevator-music sameness. But at least they write about real life stuff: dating, family life, adventure, fantasy. Our guys tend to stick to history–my favorite subject!–but can’t write decent dialog or convincing plots about anything that doesn’t concern Jack Reacher or Jack Ryan. 

    • #14
  15. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Fine scene. (Language alert!) 

    • #15
  16. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Samuel Block: So now they’re coming for David O. Russell, quite possibly America’s best working movie director.

    Got a link? I don’t know what this is referring to.

    Fighter, Silver Linings, and Hustle were all very entertaining.

    • #16
  17. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    I really liked “American Hustle”  and “The Fighter” 

     

    • #17
  18. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Samuel Block: So now they’re coming for David O. Russell, quite possibly America’s best working movie director.

    Got a link? I don’t know what this is referring to.

    Fighter, Silver Linings, and Hustle were all very entertaining.

    I put it up at first, but decided helping what’s-her-name isn’t worthwhile. (There I go again: assuming pronouns.) In a sense “they’re” isn’t quite accurate, but that crowd has a way of coalescing.
    It was a truly inappropriate thing he did. I’ll link his Wikipedia page, there’s a section on it.

    • #18
  19. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    I thought The Fighter was great, Silver Linings Playbook and Joy very good.  American Hustle had some very good scenes but I thought I would like the movie more than I did; it promised more than it delivered.

    • #19
  20. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Fine scene. (Language alert!)

    That’s a great movie.

    • #20
  21. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    I thought The Fighter was great, Silver Linings Playbook and Joy very good. American Hustle had some very good scenes but I thought I would like the movie more than I did; it promised more than it delivered.

    Interesting. Glad you said so. It’s always seemed like Hustle is one most prefer, while Joy and Linings get tossed aside. The opening walk set to Dirty Work just mesmerized me, and I stayed hooked. 

    • #21
  22. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    Fine scene. (Language alert!)

    That’s a great movie.

    I think so, too. 

    • #22
  23. Hoyacon Inactive
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I’m going to rewatch “Silver Linings” when time permits since my feelings about the Lawrence character are so far out of the mainstream.  The Cooper character was great (he is, after all, a Hoya) but I found “Tiffany” distracting and a bit annoying.  I was probably having a bad day–not uncommon in 2012.

    • #23
  24. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I’m going to rewatch “Silver Linings” when time permits since my feelings about the Lawrence character are so far out of the mainstream. The Cooper character was great (he is, after all, a Hoya) but I found “Tiffany” distracting and a bit annoying. I was probably having a bad day–not uncommon in 2012.

    I love it. A girl from the North Country.

    “See for me that her hair’s hanging down. That’s the way I remember her best.”

    • #24
  25. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    No monkeys were harmed in the early movie, which I saw years ago and had no idea Russell directed.

    • #25
  26. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    kylez (View Comment):

    No monkeys were harmed in the early movie, which I saw years ago and had no idea Russell directed.

    Except for Russell, maybe. That one reminds me of Rosemary’s Baby, if only in the sense that I can’t really describe it to anybody. I just say “Watch it!”

    I should probably be more cautious.

    • #26
  27. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy) Thatcher
    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Democracy)
    @GumbyMark

    I just realized Russell also made Three Kings, an excellent film and one of George Clooney’s two pro neocon movies (the other was Syriana, which was terrible) which I thought odd since Clooney was so vocally anti-neocon.

    • #27
  28. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    I just realized Russell also made Three Kings, an excellent film and one of George Clooney’s two pro neocon movies (the other was Syriana, which was terrible) which I thought odd since Clooney was so vocally anti-neocon.

    From what I hear, he quite a hero behind the scenes.

    • #28
  29. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    kylez (View Comment):

    No monkeys were harmed in the early movie, which I saw years ago and had no idea Russell directed.

    Except for Russell, maybe. That one reminds me of Rosemary’s Baby, if only in the sense that I can’t really describe it to anybody. I just say “Watch it!”

    I should probably be more cautious.

    Recommending it to a middle aged woman might be awkward.

    • #29
  30. kylez Member
    kylez
    @kylez

    I just put Flirting with Disaster in my NF queue. Is that good?

    • #30