“I’m not wearing pants right now”

There are a couple of creative types who have free passes for me. You know those talented people who make enough stuff that you really like that you’ll check out their work no matter how good or bad that stuff is reviewed. I saw “Cop Out” because of Kevin Smith. I listened to “Lulu” because of Lou Reed. I sat through all of “Lords of Salem” because of Rob Zombie (and talked at length about how garbage it was). These creators have appealed to me enough in their careers that they’ve got a free pass. They can even put out something that’s shitty and misses the mark and they’ll still have my loyalty. I’m not a blind consumer whore though; if they make a habit of it that pass will be revoked (looking at you Mr. M. Night Shyamalan).

This weekend I watched both American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook. Both written and directed by Mr. David O. Russel. Now, despite having seen many of his previous films, I had never really made the link that it was one guy who was at the helm of a list of consistently great movies until a few days ago. I also can’t seem to figure out why he only seems to be getting “holy shit this guy is good at everything” recognition now. Like ‘Hustle and ‘Playbook being good back to back has suddenly thrown Russel’s cred through the roof when they’re really just two films in a long line of what in my opinion are almost all home runs. Side note: “Hustle and Playbook” is a throwback 80s style buddy cop show where a reformed criminal (Hustle) is given a badge instead of jail time and partnered with a guy who gets straight As on all the cop tests but has no experience in the field (Playbook). Coming soon on FOX.

Where was I? Oh yes. Like I said, I also wasn’t aware of Russel’s name until this weekend. Then I looked him up on IMDB:

  • Spanking the Monkey – 1994
  • Flirting With Disaster – 1996
  • Three Kings – 1999
  • I Heart Huckabees – 2004
  • The Fighter – 2010
  • Silver Linings Playbook – 2012
  • American Hustle – 2013

Not to mention he’s got writing credits on all those films except The Fighter. Now, I will admit I haven’t seen ‘Monkey or ‘Disaster (“Monkey and Disaster” is also a buddy cop show coming soon on Fox) but, starting with Three Kings, there are 5 back-to-back amazing movies that also span a variety of genres. The other thing that gets me (particularly in the films Russel wrote) is the sense of humour that he injects into apparently everything he does. Doesn’t matter if it’s a war movie, crime movie, crazy person movie or what have you, there are laugh out loud moments in all these flicks.

Also known as "The Twistmeister"

Also known as “The Twistmeister”

Now, back to the question at hand. Does he have a free pass? I’m willing to say that at this point personally he does. His next film Nailed is a movie I will be going to see even though as of writing I have no idea what it’s about. I’m also going to make an effort to seek out his earlier films to see how they hold up. On to another question.

Why isn’t there more hype around this guy?

I remember when Unbreakable was getting hyped up everyone in the whole world knew the film was the next work from M. Night Shyamalan (however they chose to pronounce his name or simply referring to him “the guy who did Sixth Sense”). Unbreakable came out in 2000, so well ahead of the smart phone, the tidal wave of social media and the general “internetedness” of everything in our lives. So how did we know it was the new Shyamalan flick? I can only assume the Hollywood hype-machine did everything in its power to let us know.

So why doesn’t Russel get the same treatment? Maybe he doesn’t like the attention? Maybe he wants his works to speak for themselves? Or maybe he’s a crazy person and Hollywood doesn’t want him to be let off the leash too often (check out #6 on this Cracked list for examples of what I’m talking about)? Not on that list, but also noteworthy: He felt up his adopted trans-gendered niece’s boobs that were getting bigger thanks to hormone therapy. Don’t worry, she didn’t tell him to stop so it’s not that bad.

Yeah, it’s probably the crazy person thing. Studios don’t want to link too much to a guy who strips down to his boxers and yells at people on set. I’ve noticed that a lot of the actors on American Hustle are talking about how great working with him was and how collaborative he is and all those other fun things you say about a bonafide A-list director who’s pooping out Oscar caliber movies. So, maybe they’re trying to rebuild his image?

Whatever the reason, American Hustle was amazing. Fantastic performances out of everyone involved, great soundtrack, brilliantly shot, the works. Who cares if he’s a crazy person?

Just for the record, Nailed is about a waitress who gets a nail in her head that causes zany behavior which sparks an unlikely romance with a young senator. No lie, I would have just about zero interest in this movie if it was not made by a guy who has a free pass.