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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

American Hustle [Blu-ray]

 

(David O. Russell, 2013)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Annapurna Pictures

Video: Sony Pictures

 

Disc:

Region: A-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:18:04.276

Disc Size: 38,766,475,040 bytes

Feature Size: 30,862,430,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.93 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 18th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2749 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2749 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, none

 

Extras:

• “The Making of American Hustle” featurette (16:36)
Deleted & Extended Scenes (22:28)

DVD and Digital Copy

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams star in director David O. Russell's fictional period crime drama about a reckless FBI agent who recruits a con man and his alluring British partner into a scheme to gain the upper hand over other talented swindlers. Smooth-talking Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) is a hustler of the highest order. No mark is off limits for Rosenfeld, especially when his crafty partner Sydney Prosser (Adams) is by his side. When renegade FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) thrusts the deceptive duo into the treacherous world of New Jersey power players and underworld heavies, the thrill of the grift grows too strong to resist. Meanwhile, New Jersey politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) gets caught in the middle, and Rosenfeld's capricious wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) holds more power than anyone could imagine. Louis C.K. and Jack Huston costar.

 

 

The Film:

Irving Rosenfeld, the con man running the great scam in “American Hustle,” isn’t, his mistress admits, much to look at. He has a belly the size of a beer keg and a torturously complicated comb-over that he arranges with the fastidiousness of a Michelin-starred pastry chef. Appearances are not everything to Irving (Christian Bale), but rather just part of the swindle that is his life’s work, his passion and genius. The confidence game is his honey pot: It’s what lines his pockets, lights his fire and cigars, and has transformed the mistress, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), into his equal in theft and dissimulation, making her the Rosalind Russell to his Cary Grant in a romp that’s pure Scorsese screwball.

Only the director here is David O. Russell, who, more than any other contemporary American filmmaker, has reinvigorated screwball comedy, partly by insisting that men and women talk to one another. To that end, that chatter, written by Mr. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, is fast, dirty, intemperate, hilarious and largely in service to the art of the con, specifically the Abscam scandal that almost incidentally inspired the story. The real scandal dates back to 1978 and an F.B.I. investigation into political corruption that found agents posing as wealthy sheikhs anxious to buy off public officials. (Abscam was short for Arab scam, or the nominally less derogatory Abdul scam.) The swindle netted a trove of greasy-palmed politicians, but also charges of entrapment.

Excerpt from The NY Times located HERE

American Hustle is a quality thriller with rock-your-socks performances and a keep-up-dumbnuts script which, like the best of modern art, does not require 20/20 vision in the comprehension department. Even if you don't understand who's fooling who the characters keep you breathing pure oxygen.

Excerpt from Eye For Film located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

American Hustle on Blu-ray from Sony maintains the film's, intentional, rougher textures - appearing a much more visually stylistic film than Russell's previous Silver Linings Playbook. The most striking feature of the film would probably be its art direction - the performers wardrobes and minute details such as phones, wide neckties and wallpaper. The image itself is thick and rich - colors are heavy - often bold.  This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate. Skin tones true and contrast exhibits healthy black levels. Detail is most-notable in the frequent close-ups (hands and face.) Obviously, pristinely clean and I see no signs of manipulation. This Blu-ray has a consistent feel - as the film's moods sway and camera angles become occasionally obtuse (connoting confusion?) - the transfer is solid.  I expect this is a great replication of the film's, meticulously achieved, appearance. In many ways this is a beautiful and fascinatingly shot film. Thumbs up for the HD rendering.

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

I thoroughly enjoyed the period music of the film in a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2749 kbps. There are a few, but not an abundance, of separations sneaking their way to the rear speakers. Aside from, the great, Danny Elfman's (Darkman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands, Good Will Hunting, Beetlejuice) kinetic score - we get so many songs further establishing the timeframe from America's A Horse With No Name, Steely Dan, Chicago, Donna Summer, Tom Jones, ELO, Bowie and even The Bee Gees. I love the depth - some of this music has never sounded so rich and crisp on my system. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region A-locked.

 

Extras :

Two supplements. We get the 16.5-minute “The Making of American Hustle” featurette with input from director Russell, Amy Adams, Christian Bale and others giving brief sound bytes about the production with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage. There are also a handful of deleted and extended scenes running over 22-minutes that have some value as being fairly interesting to see what was left on the cutting room floor - and surmise why.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
American Hustle is fabulous on many fronts - just as a fast-paced dead-pan comedy, for the chameleon-like performances or the fabulous art direction. How about the dialogue (with Mamet-like repetition)? I wouldn't rate it as highly as Silver Linings Playbook - and, obviously, a completely different film, but this is still a very worthwhile film experience. I continue to appreciate Russell's work with a strong leaning to characters. It has plenty of re-watchability. The multiple award nominations are appropriate. This Sony Blu-ray offers an impressive 1080P presentation, maybe scrimped on the extras, but there is plenty of value here to strongly recommend picking up! Enjoy. 

Gary Tooze

March 6th, 2014

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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