Director Dissection with Seanc and Rauldc


I had a hard time coming up with my favorite scene. Russell's movies are full of great scenes in my opinion. I finally landed on the scene in The Fighter where Dicky (Bale) gets out of jail and comes back expecting to train Micky (Wahlberg). Instead he is informed that Micky is better off without him. That he has a new trainer and Dicky is no longer needed. It is a great scene for all the main players in the film. Micky being conflicted about choosing between his brother and what may be best for his career. His mother desperately fighting for what her broken son deserves. The girlfriend who is looking out for the best interest of her boyfriend. Then Dicky, who truly wants good things for Micky but doesn't ever consider that may be moving on without him. He is a truly flawed character who Russell manages to make infuriating and sympathetic all at the same time. Great scene in a great film.


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

This was my runner up scene. I actually love a lot of scenes from SLP, so it is really hard to choose for me. I think as times goes by this movie will make my top 100. I'd put it at the fringe of it currently, but there's just something about the film that appeals to me.

My History with David O. Russell films

The first film that I saw of David O. Russell was The Fighter. I remember my roommate talking about how he had seen the film and really liked it, so I gave it a whirl. It was a good entertaining film the first time I saw it.

I then saw Silver Linings Playbook. This was on my radar as this was when I started to watch a lot of the Oscar nominated films and performances before the Oscars actually aired. I really liked it the first time I saw it, though I didn't get to make it to the theater with that one. Once I saw it I decided to Rewatch The Fighter and I considered the film even better. I know it's hard to call a director a favorite after watching two films, but Russell had me hooked.

American Hustle was on my radar list for a long time. This was one of I believe three films that I had seen at the theater and went by myself, because I was so pumped for the film. I was really looking forward to it because of its all star cast. It didn't disappoint and has just gotten stronger with time. It's probably in my top 25 at this point, certainly top 50. I have already seen it five times.

I caught Flirting With Disaster on Netflix about a year ago. I know it isn't a popular film, but I did think it was a decent watch. Obviously nothing stellar, but watchable and enjoyable.

And then I Heart Huckabees this week, a long overdue watch. My thoughts were listed previously.

Approximate total watches
Silver Linings Playbook 4
American Hustle 5
The Figher 3
Flirting With Disaster 1
I Heart Huckabees 1

Maybe he will direct Clooney again?
That's not going to happen. The two can't stand eachother. Clooney actually punched Russell in the face after he verbally abused an extra on the set of Three Kings (according to George).
Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2017

That's not going to happen. The two can't stand eachother. Clooney actually punched Russell in the face after he verbally abused an extra on the set of Three Kings (according to George).
Good for Clooney.

I just listened to Schwartzman on WTF today. He had really nice things to say about Russell. Weird how different people's experiences can be. Maron asked him about Tomlin too. He pretty much blew past it to talk about Hoffman.

I want a David O. Russell movie where it's just two hours (or longer) of David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin fighting each other. It could be a "vs." movie. One of them kills the other at the end.

This movie has all the ingredients that appeal to me. It has a variety of fun and interesting characters. It is sharply written and funny as hell. Every duo plays perfectly off of each other. Schwartzman and Wahlberg are my favorites. Both are great but I find Wahlberg to be exceptional as the off the wall fireman. I think Russell has a very good eye behind the camera but what I think probably appeals to me the most is his writing. Huckabees is the first of his movies that proves that to me. The dialogue is dense but you never feel bogged down in it. It flows with the story that moves at a brisk pace. At its heart it is just a simple story of people who are trying to find themselves in a world where it feels like it is becoming increasingly harder to do that. Russell is just toying with that deep theme here though and the end result is a laugh out loud comedy.

I have seen Huckabees twice now and it has gotten better with each viewing. An excellent movie that is certainly a part of what I think makes Russell great.

I saw this before really knowing who Russell was as a director. This movie is ridiculously in my wheel house. Its a sports film, which you have to mess up pretty badly to get me to hate. It is about broken people but still has plenty of humor and hope to offer. It is an ensemble full of great performances.It is extremely well written which for my blind eye usually goes hand in hand with the great performances. In fact as I am typing this I am realizing it is a wonder that it isn't in my top 10-25. It is in my favorite 100 and was my favorite Russell film before American Hustle came along.

The Fighter is most definitely an ensemble but the relationship between Mickey(Wahlberg) and Dicky(Bale) is at its heart. Dicky is played amazingly by Bale and is the most tragically flawed character in a film that is full of very flawed people. Watching Mickey struggle with who is brother was, is, and wants him to be is incredible. Mickey finds something to cling to pretty early in the story in Charlene(Adams). She is far removed from who Dicky is to his family, so naturally she is trying to get Mickey to distance himself from this drug addicted tornado. Mickey has always been loyal to his brother because in his own many times messed up way his brother has always been loyal to him. Watching these dysfunctional relationships play out is really great, it is at times heart warming, at times heart breaking, and at times hilarious. Wahlberg, Bale, and Adams are all as good as I have ever seen them.

All that alone would be enough to make The Fighter a really great movie. There is more though. Mickey's family outside of Dicky may be even more messed up than Dicky himself. Although we don't really get to know these his sisters extremely well, I can never shake the feeling that they just want Mickey to hit it big because for them it would be the equivalent of winning the lottery. The mother(Leo) has a little more nuance. Her focus is on Dicky returning to his glory days. I think she believes that this is the only way Dicky will ever remain clean and have some peace in his life. On paper this probably sounds like a typical nurturing mother character. She is far from that however. One of the main reasons for that is she is delusional about who Dicky was as a boxer. Dicky once got to fight Sugar Ray Leonard and for Dicky and his mother this is their entire world. They cling to that great moment in Dicky's life and try to translate that into Dicky having a great present. She sees Mickey as being Dicky's future and is more than willing to try and steam roll anyone who she thinks is getting in the way of that. This also makes for a mixture of humorous yet upsetting scenes. Another great Russell character played perfectly by Leo.

This movie has many more threads running through it. Dicky is involved in the making of an HBO documentary that he thinks is about boxing but is actually about crack addiction. Mickey and Dicky's father is present but nearly invisible which seems like the way it has always been and could be a theme unto itself. Mickey's trainer and family friend plays a prominent role. In many was this feels the least like a Russell movie of all his films. It is the only movie of his I don't consider a straight up comedy. As I write about it though I realize it is very much playing in the same realm as his other films. It is about fixing relationships, about trying to build new relationships in a healthy way, it is about trying to reconcile your past with your future. It is all about the characters and their journey. That is why I love his films and that is why I love The Fighter.

Still hoping some of you will send me PM letting me know what your favorites from Russell are in the following categories:

Favorite Film
Favorite Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Male Performance
Best Female Performance

Silver Linings Playbook

Here is what I wrote about Silver Linings Playbook a couple of years ago. It was my first time writing about a movie on this site, and probably my first time writing about a movie ever. As you can see I was not even aware of who Russell was at this point. I thought this would be a standard romantic comedy but went based on the word of mouth the film was getting. I didn't care about Russell, Lawrence, or Cooper at this point. Now all three can almost always draw me towards a movie on their own, with the exception of Hunger Games of course.

There are always at least a few movies a year that at first glance appear to be typical Hollywood fare, but manage to bring something a little more original and nuanced to their story. Silver Linings Playbook is one of those films for me. I really love the characters in this movie. Our two protagonists are each dealing with mental illness, each have lost their spouses, and each have difficult family dynamics to deal with. What strikes me most about the two main characters is their devotion. How Pat's devotion to his wife plays out over the course of the film is especially endearing.

There are some problems with this film. As expected in the final act the movie falls into some romantic comedy tropes. There are not many things that frustrate me more in a movie than characters being thrust into contrived situations that could be solved by a simple conversation, and we see this a couple of times in Silver Linings. We also get an unexpected twist right before the third act that not only feels out of place in the story arc but also is completely unnecessary. My last major issue with this movie is a trigger that we learn Pat has very early in the film. as soon as we are given this information we know that it will be used as a plot device later in the film. Sure enough it is but thankfully only once , and the experience is relatively painless.

All of the supporting characters in Silver Linings look at Pat and Tiffany as if they are different, as if they are time bombs waiting to explode. As the story progresses and we see the flaws in many of the supporting players, most notably Pat's father and brother and Tiffany's sister and brother-in-law, we see where many of their issues came from. We also see that all of us have some sort of psychosis even if it manifests itself in different ways. The primary remedy is building our relationships with an understanding that they will be as imperfect as we are. This is the main theme in Silver Linings Playbook and ultimately what makes this an engaging film worth visiting.
I still feel the same way about the film. I have watched it twice since then. The tropes towards the end bother me a bit, but I love that central relationship. I love these two broken people trying to find their way in an upside down world, and ultimately finding each other. Plus the movie is erally flippin' funny. Good stuff from Russell.

Power Rankings: Russell Edition

I have only actually seen 5 of his films (still need to see Spanking the Monkey and Three Kings), but this is how I would rank them.

5. Flirting With Disaster- Quite an obvious candidate for a last place finish, but as I have said in a few earlier threads I think I enjoyed it a lot more than many others have. It's a pretty simple rom com on the surface but there were some good moments as well.
MVP- Ben Stiller- I am anything but a Stiller fan overall and I find most of his work to be rather obnoxious, but I thought Russell used him pretty well here actually.

4. I Heart Huckabees- it's really different from any other Russell, so I do have to give him props for that. I stated before that the film has a type of quirkiness to it in my opinion. The cast is full of many capable actors and actresses who come together very well as a whole. Obviously something that Russell has been able to do consistently since he directed this film.
MVP- Mark Wahlberg- Like most of this, could have gone in many different directions but ultimately I think Wahlberg gives the best performance of the crew. Really tough call.

3. The Fighter- Probably Russell's overall strongest storyline, and it may be his film that looks the best. Although he didn't lead four performances to Oscar nominations (he slacked with three), Melissa Leo and Christian Bale were winners. I personally thought Adams deserved it over Leo, but that's that. And again, Wahlberg was a really strong presence in this film. Just bout the film last week and I am assuming with rewatches this film will become a bigger favorite.
MVP- Christian Bale- Just an astounding performance as he basically transformed in his character, not only mentally, but physically as well.

2. Silver Linings Playbook- Perhaps his most fun film to watch. It's funny, it's a eye catching story, it's performances are great, and it has great repeatability. This is the film that will be known for springing Cooper and Lawrence certainly. Some of Russell's best scenes have come from this film, such as the aforementioned scene that I posted earlier in this thread. It has definitely only gotten stronger with time for me.
MVP- Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence- I can't truly pick one or the other. So I cheated.

1. American Hustle- Awesome performances, awesome script, awesome storyline, awesome directing, awesome cinematography, and my favorite of all, a killer soundtrack, perhaps my favorite of any film. It pains me that people don't like this film, but I guess that makes it a more personal favorite for me. It rocks. The costumes are great and it really gives off a sweet 70s vibe in the film.
MVP- Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams- the female performances of this film are just awesome. Lawrence with a slight edge, but I had to include Adams too.

I gave this a 4/5 when I saw it for the first time. I have watched it two more times this year and have since moved it to a full 5 stars. Here is what I wrote about it December 2013:

David O'Russell cares about characters and his movies are better for it. Whether or not Wahlberg wins his last fight, whether Lawrence and Cooper end up together, or who wins the end game in Hustle. All these things become incidental because it is about the characters. The way they interact with each other is more important than why they interact with each other. I have to admit I was a little nervous the first twenty minutes or so of American Hustle. I wasn't hating the movie by any means, but I didn't connect with Bale and Adam's characters as quickly as I would have liked. I quickly settled in though. Once Cooper's character shows up and shortly after Lawrence's I was all in and enjoyed every frame of the film.

There is so much to enjoy and glean from every single relationship, and there are a plethora of them. Bale and Adams, Adams and Cooper, Cooper and Bale, Bale and Lawrence, Bale and Renner. Every single interaction is complex, humorous, intense, and most importantly intriguing. O'Russell has become a master film maker in my opinion. His dialogue is spot right down to each actor's accent being perfect. The way he dresses his characters adds a dimension to them as well. It may be trite to say, but everything about American Hustle just feels lived in.

I cannot do a movie like this justice by writing about it but I cannot recommend this movie enough. I know there are some ho-hum reviews out there and frankly I am baffled by them. I have fawned over the characters but would be remiss if I didn't mention the plot which is intriguing. O'Russell doesn't let it get too convoluted or step on the character's toes however which is why this film worked so well for me. The soundtrack is also phenomenal. In your face and fun when it needs to be but in the background when more appropriate. Great music used perfectly. I could go on about this movie all day. It's one of the year's, and possibly O'Russell's, best. See it now.

I still feel the same way but I think I under estimated the re-watchability. This movie is loads of fun. Now nestled nicely within my favorites.

Do you guys know about this?

It's a movie David O. Russell was filming in 2008 but it ran into some problems and wasn't going to be finished... but now it is and it's finally coming out. I'm still not sure of all the details going on about this, but it was a David O. Russell movie. It says it's directed by Stephen Greene, but that's a fake name to hide David's name -- he wants nothing to do with this now.

And yes, my Jake Gyllenhaal is in it.

And yes, that is Paul Reubens, AKA Pee Wee Herman, underneath my Jake Gyllenhaal on the poster, which is totally terrifying. It should be illegal for Jake Gyllenhaal and Pee Wee Herman to be on the same movie poster. It just should, and I say that as a Pee Wee fan.

It's called Accidental Love, but it was originally called Nailed.
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I don't have an official top 100 anymore (my last one is well out of date), but American Hustle is certainly in the 8-25 range in my opinion. I currently have it showcased as a top 10 film for my profile. Like you Sean, I originally rated it somewhere around an 8.5/10. Its now a 10/10 (or 9.5 at worst). Its the best cast of characters that Russell has put together. And yes, that soundtrack is one of the best if not THE best. Plus, Adams and Lawrence has never looked or acted better.

And SC, I have heard about that. I'm surprised he's not listed as director but blindly judging by the look of the film he may not want to lay claim to it.

I'd claim anything if Jake Gyllenhaal was in it. Even if Pee Wee Herman was, too. But not everyone's me.

American Hustle

So why do I love American Hustle? Well it's just a movie that has no faults for me. I understand the plot may have holes but it's entertaining to me and there isn't nearly enough missing from it for it to drag my thoughts on it down. In this film we see 4 performances that are at a very high level. That is just something that I think is rare and I'm always a sucker for films with multiple performances that are the pinnacle of their careers. They will be looked upon as career defining for the main four certainly. AmyAdams and Jennifer Lawrence will be stars if not considered already and American Hustle will be at or near the top of their filmography performance lists.

The soundtrack fits in so well with the movie. Every song was picked in the exact perfect scene to match it up with. Especially the Live and Let Die and How Do You Mend a Broken Heart scenes. It's rare in my opinion that music can influence how much I may like a film, but in this case it worked greatly. It also just gives out that 70s vibe, with the costumes provided for the cast helping that cause. The film does a tremendous job mixing humor in as well. Scenes like the microwave scene are both funny but yet engaging to the film. A nice blend and Russell knows just how far to take it.

It's a personal favorite that will just get stronger with time for me. As stated before this is my vote for Best David O. Russell Film.

Russell was trying to make something bad for once it looks like.
Accidental Love has that kind of goofy I Heart Huckabees look to it.