The Wolf of Wall Street is a welcome return to those old-time movies such as Bette Davis used to recommend, in which all the colors are a little brighter than real life, the Ferraris are spanking new, the women are drop-dead gorgeous, the clothes are the peak of fashion, and everything from the tableware to the picture windows are sparkling clean.
In other words, everything is a little more exciting than real life.
American Hustle is an old-fashioned intrigue comedy in the tradition of The Sting, but with more concentration on complications of plot, as smart crooks eventually outsmart themselves-- if you read the story that way.
It starts with Christian Bale in charge of a fair-sized scam, and then his partner, Amy Adams, more or less takes over, and then a rather dubious FBI man played by Bradley Cooper gets involved, and from there we proceed to complications that eventually pretty much left me behind.
Out of the Furnace is rated by Entertainment Weekly as the eighth-best movie of the year, and it is well written, well photographed, well acted, and generally worth a lot of praise. It is a serious drama for grownup audiences.
But it is also thoroughly unpleasant, with unsympathetic characters, occasional ugly violence and some artsy camerawork that implies subtlety that isn't there.
To start with, two bits of advice: if you like grownup, realistic character drama, by all means, see Philomena. And if you have a hearing problem like mine, ask to borrow a pair of earphones the theater has that will enable you to adjust the sound to the volume you need. Because a lot of the dialogue is murmured or even whispered, very confidential, and what I could hear of it convinced me that I wished I could hear it all.
It isn't so much the beatings that make 12 Years A Slave hard to watch-- they will, in any case, not appall the moviegoers who have made the Saw and Hostel franchises profitable, and there are only a few of them-- it's the endless pitilessness of the white characters' attitudes toward the black characters, their utter inability to recognize them as human beings.