Director Dissection with Seanc and Rauldc

Tools    





Glossary:
David O. Russell (With Special Guest Sexy Celebrity)
Alexander Payne (With Special Guest Camo)
Steven Spielberg (With Special Guest Mark F)
Elia Kazan (With Special Guest Citizen Rules)
Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton (With Special Guest Cobpyth)
David Fincher

We've been thinking of doing this quite sometime so what better time to start now. Sean and I will go through the ins and outs of random directors, mainly ones that we both really appreciate (at least to start). We will spend a week or two talking about them and anyone else is of course free to chime in. We will ask each other questions and get down to particular favorites from each director of choice. Our first director of choice: David O. Russell.



Sean, I'll start by asking you, what was the first David O. Russell film you have seen?

How many times approximately have you seen his films? Any of them in the theater?

And then how would you rank his filmography?



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



The Bobby Fischer of movie criticism
Awesome! If you need any help, I have some veteran's tools I can sell for a fair price:



Nah just kidding, good luck and I'm excited for this, especially since its you two.



Really excited we are finally doing this Raul. I hope you guys don't get frustrated if it takes me a little time to post, but I will get to your questions after work for sure. The weekend is always less hectic for me.

I'll try to start you with two questions as well.

Who is your favorite Russel character?

What is your favorite Russel scene?
__________________
Letterboxd



Reaction to squished burgers, a mental breakdown.
I never noticed those white moles on David Russell's face before.

Anyways, The Fighter is by far my favorite of his, I love it, great performances by Bale, Adams, Walhberg and the rest. I'd give it a
rating.



Sean, I'll start by asking you, what was the first David O. Russell film you have seen?

How many times approximately have you seen his films? Any of them in the theater?

And then how would you rank his filmography?
So my first Russell movie was Three Kings, it was in the theater and I loved it. The caveat is that was long before I was watching movies for directors, so I had no clue who Russell was. Also I don't love Three Kings anymore. I watched it last year because I had not seen it since watching it in the theater, and I thought it was pretty average.

I have seen Flirting With Disaster once and within the last two years. Three Kings twice. I Heart Huckabees twice within the last two years. The Fighter three times, once in theater. Silver Linings Playbook twice, once in theater. American Hustle three times, once in theater.

American Hustle


The Fighter


I Heart Huckabees


Silver Linings Playbook


Three Kings


Flirting With Disaster


I will write up a little synopsis of why I love Russell so much either tonight or tomorrow. Then throughout the week I will pick a movie a day and write a little bit about it. Probably with the exception of Flirting With Disaster, which I like to pretend he didn't do.

Has anyone seen Spanking The Monkey. I am not sure I have heard anyone ever talk about that movie...EVER.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
That's me! Holden too, I guess. I've had the VHS for about 18 years now. Probably seen it five times. Pretty low budget, quirky, definitely indie, straightforward about the incest. It was the first time I remember seeing Jeremy Davies, although he was in Guncrazy earlier. I had seen Alberta Watson naked in Michael Mann's The Keep so I thought to myself Spanking the Monkey would be something to see. I give it
.
__________________
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden



That's me! Holden too, I guess. I've had the VHS for about 18 years now. Probably seen it five times. Pretty low budget, quirky, definitely indie, straightforward about the incest. It was the first time I remember seeing Jeremy Davies, although he was in Guncrazy earlier. I had seen Alberta Watson naked in Michael Mann's The Keep so I thought to myself Spanking the Monkey would be something to see. I give it
.
I think you probably know my tastes enough now. Should I bother?



MovieGal will be jealous that you're dissecting directors without her.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Probably not if you don't care for Flirting with Disaster which is his film it most closely resembles and I think is better. Maybe if you have a change of heart about it or come across it accidentally.



I'll try to start you with two questions as well.

Who is your favorite Russel character?

What is your favorite Russel scene?
Two very hard questions to answer off the bat.

I am a fan of so many Russell characters but I think he gets the most out of his female actresses certainly. My favorite performance from an actor is probably Christian Bale for The Fighter, but overall I wouldn't have it crack my top three.

When I think of my favorite Russell performance, the first three that come to mind is Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalynn in American Hustle and Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser.

I think I would give the slight edge to Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalynn. She really doesn't have all that much screen time all things considered but every single one of her scenes is just simply stellar. I hadn't seen Lapita Noungo (sp.) in 12 Years a Slave but I couldn't help but be disappointed that Lawrence didn't take home an Oscar for this one. Russell has made both Lawrence and Adams two of my favorite actresses of all time.

Picking out just one scene is rather tough, but how about a scene with two of my favorite performances coming together in the same scene, the scene shown below. And of course, we all know how this scene ends.


There's certainly other scenes in contention but that's the one I would go with. I also loved the Bradley Cooper breakdown scene in Silver Linings Playbook and that would be my runner up choice.



Sean, you said that you would go in depth on a few of Russell's movie, well I am going to watch one of the flicks of his that I haven't seen yet, and I will report back on it. I'll definitely be chiming in with the other films too and hopefully answering more questions as well. Overall, I think this will be a real fun thread.




My favorite directors all do a few things very well. They create memorable characters and get great performances out of the actors who portray them. The last part of that statement may be debatable, I personally tend to think great actors easily fall into portraying really great characters. That is a chicken or the egg argument though, so a bit of a tangent. My favorite directors take dark themes and undercut them with humorous witty dialogue. They also undercut these dark themes by putting their characters in a world that, while in our reality, always seem like they are a bit other worldly as well. I mentioned the dialogue already but I want to emphasize that my favorite directors either write themselves or choose amazing scripts. For my tastes great writing and characters can overcome a multitude of sins.

I think Russell does all the things mentioned above extraordinarily well. For my money I think he has been on fire since Huckabees. I have loved his last four movies, two of them enough to put in my favorite 100 movies. I don't think plot matters in Russell films. Whether Ward wins or loses in The Fighter, the dance contest in Silver Linings Playbook, and the con in Hustle, they are completely incidental. Does Huckabees even have a plot? Russell makes me care about the characters. I think his movies are memorable and infinitely re-watchable because of it.

I mentioned that I enjoy dark themes earlier. Maybe my idea of that is not everyone's. That doesn't always mean murder or grisly violence. In Russell's case I am talking about making movies about deeply flawed characters who are searching for ways to make life better. Drug abuse, mental illness, white collar crime, and more are all dealt with in both a serious and humorous way in Russell's films. Loving four films may not seem like enough to some to consider a director your favorite. I think it is plenty though. I love these films and can't wait to see what he has for me next.



Raul is watching Huckabees and I am very excited to see what he thinks. I feel alone in loving it. Here are three more questions for his return.

What movie made you realize you loved Russell?

Do you think Russell makes predominantly comedies?

Many directors are said to have a dominant theme that hovers over all their movies. Do you think Russell has one? If so what is it?



1. The movie that really made me a Russell fan was Silver Linings Playbook. The themes of the movie appealed so much to me that it made me look forward to American Hustle, as well as wanting me to revisit The Fighter, watch Flirting With Disaster and I Heart Huckabees, and eventually finish the rest of his filmography. As his new films come out, those will be at the top of my watch list certainly.

2. That's a good question. There's definitely comedic elements in every movie I've seen, but I think a lot of them could certainly make a case for not predominantly being comedies. I would certainly classify Flirting With Disaster as an all out comedy. I pretty much feel the same with I Heart Huckabees, but one could also consider it a lighthearted drama.

3. I don't know if there's a dominant theme exactly, but I think Russell often likes to show us characters with faults and how they are able to overcome their faults. Like in Silver Linings Playbook, both Cooper and Lawrence are highly faulted characters, but in the end, they are two people who are made for each other.

Here's 3 more for you Sean:

1. Your favorite scene

2. Are Russell's two proposed next movies on your radar?

3. What film do you think had the best story and screenplay?


I'll also post my thoughts about I Heart Huckabees shortly, which I just finished.



I Heart Huckabees

This film is like nothing else that Russell has ever made. Sean made the point of not knowing what the plot really is and I'm not sure I'm aware of what it 100% is either. That being said, it is still entertaining and fun. All of the characters were interesting to me. This may be a really bad comparison, but it seems like something that Wes Anderson would make to me. Because I would describe the film as a bit quirky.

All of the performances were good for me. I really liked Jason Schwartzmann and Jude Law playing off of each other. Jude Laws performance actually kind of reminds me of the characters that Bradley Cooper has played in Russell's films. And of course, I'm one of Naomi Watts biggest fans. She was both funny and stunning. And Dustin Hoffman is a legend in his own right. This isn't a noteworthy performance from him, but I think his presence still made the film a stronger one. Funny to see Jonah Hill in a few scenes too. The humor was there, with scenes like the bounce ball in the head scenes, and the you rock, rock scene near the beginning. The ending events for the characters were all interesting and quite fitting. Overall it was a pretty positive first experience with this film. Glad I have finally gotten to see it. It could be the type of film that would be even better on a repeat watch.

+