54 (1998) – A dull mess of a film with no stand-out performances to redeem it. (In fact, most of them are just plain terrible.) It’s about the owner of Studio 54, so it should have been an interesting story, but I found myself so unable to care about any of the characters or what was happening to them. Apparently the film was severely chopped due to poor reception from test audiences, so perhaps it was better in its original form. I will give it a little bit of credit for its great soundtrack of late ’70s/early ’80s hits. The score: 0.5/5
American Hustle (2013) – This was my first David O. Russell film, so I went in with zero expectations, but I unfortunately can’t say I left the theater impressed. I enjoyed Christian Bale’s central performance a lot, as well as those of Amy Adams and Louis C.K., but otherwise the film just felt very flat to me. I had a very hard time getting absorbed into the story and was instead hyper-aware that I was watching actors on a screen the entire time. I’m not sure I’d watch this one again, and it didn’t make me want to seek out more of David O. Russell’s work. I’ve seen a lot of praise heaped on to this film but it just didn’t click for me, and I know I’ll get some flack for this, but… The score: 2/5
Bachelorette (2012) – This a movie about crappy people treating each other crappily. The characters are all pretty despicable, but that doesn’t mean the film is terrible. It’s an interesting watch, though I didn’t find it as funny as some viewers seem to. Kirsten Dunst’s performance reminds me of an adult version of her character from Bring It On, but grumpier. Meh, it’s a semi-decent watch. The score: 2/5
Book Thief, The (2013) – Reviewed in full as part of TMP’s series on period films
Paradise (2013) – I’m not a huge fan of Diablo Cody. I enjoyed Juno the first time I watched it, but it lost its charm with each of the couple of re-watches I made of it. I did enjoy Young Adult more than I expected to, though, so I had moderate expectations for this one, despite reading a number of poor reviews. The script has some wit to it, usually through Julianne Hough’s narration. Her on-screen performance isn’t quite as successful at carrying off the script in the beginning, though it does strengthen a bit as the film progresses. Once Lamb arrives in Vegas, the story becomes somewhat of a misfit friendship tale. I would probably give it a second watch, but it isn’t a perfect film by any measure. The score: 3/5
Sapphires, The (2012) – Will be reviewed in full as part of TMP’s series on period films, but spoiler alert: I loved it!