Wednesday, March 9, 2011

David O Russell

David Russell is an American director who was born August 20, 1958 in New York. He grew up with a father named Bernard who was a sales executive, and a mother named Maria who was a local political activist. Born in New York, Russell and his family moved to the west coast only to find themselves back in New York three years later. Throughout Russell’s early years he was very into literature, which eventually brought him to Amherst College in Massachusetts. While attending Amherst College Russell got to study English and Religion with some very important people, Robert Stone and Robert Thurman, the father of the famous actress Uma Thurman. In my opinion I believe this may have given Russell some inspiration to do what he does today, direct movies.

After graduating college Russell found himself teaching English in Nicaragua for four months. Not long after being there, he got a real sense of how third-world countries operate which would inspire one of his future films. Throughout the next few years David O Russell moved several places and got into politics like his mother. While he enjoyed the topic of politics he felt that something was missing; he needed a change.
That change occurred when he started working as a production assistant for the movie “Smithsonian World” in 1984. As he worked there he began to get inspired to create his own films. He started small, making several short films that progressively

gained popularity until his third short titled “Hairway to the Stairs” won an award at the Sundance film festival. After his third short film, he started to realize that maybe it was
time for a feature length film. He went on to direct his first feature length film “Spanking the Monkey” which launched the rest of his career.
One of my favorite David O Russell movies is called “The Fighter” (2010). As soon as I saw the preview for this movie I knew it was one I would enjoy. The movie is about two brothers who live for boxing. Brothers Mickey ward and Dickey Eklund were real boxers who grew up together sharing the same dream, to become the best boxers possible. The film had a very real feel to it; it was created in a way that didn’t feel like a movie. It didn’t feel scripted or predictable which allowed me to get emotionally invested into the whole story. One of the reason I believed the story was because there were many hardships throughout the movie, just like in real life. While most movies have problems for the characters to overcome, most of the time they don’t feel real. “The Fighter” felt real because the issues that go on in the movie happen in everyday life. Everyday issues like fighting with your girlfriend, drug abuse, getting consumed by the media, and a few other issues. For example, getting consumed by the media can have a great effect on who you are as a person. It can change your perspective on certain things because you feel that you need to look or act a certain way.

The characters in the film are far from perfect. In fact they have many problems that really take a toll on them but without them, they wouldn’t be who they are today. With many different flaws in their characters it makes the victory at the end even sweeter because they’ve faced these hardships.

One scene in the movie that was very “real” to me took place in a jail. The scene starts when Mickey goes in to talk to his brother Dickey about his next fight. His brother who is in jail is trying to convince him to fight with a certain technique. The camera cuts back and forth between the brothers, which adds to the intensity about the scene. Mickey ends up leaving the room while his brother is telling him what he needs to do differently. They end up getting into a small argument, which I can relate to.

Another movie I really thought was interesting was Three Kings. When I first heard that it was a war movie I immediately thought about a serious emotional movie. After watching the movie I had a completely different feeling. It had some serious
Aspects to it but a majority of it was comedy. Though, not the usual comedy you would see in a movie. What made it work for me was the fact that the underlying story was serious, but with the characters they had, it changed the whole mood of the story. What makes the story interesting and funny at the same time is the fact that they are in a serious setting risking their lives. There are many gruesome moments that constantly remind you that just because parts are funny, they are still in a war. While war is not a joking matter, I believe Russell was trying to convey the fact that you have to make the most of every situation you encounter. Although they are risking their lives, there are moments in the money where they crack jokes and try to keep the mood light, which makes it different from other war films in my opinion.

A good scene from the movie is where Mark Wahlberg spots someone off in the distance. A few seconds later he asks his friends if he they are shooting or not. The respond with the question, and replies back with “That’s what I’m asking you. Then they reply with “what’s the answer?” Mark Wahlberg then spots that the man has a gun, and shoots him. The scene has light, comedic feeling to it until he runs to the guy he shot. A dying man with blood all over lies there, which makes you realize it is also a serious scene. I found this scene funny because while he is asking the other soldiers they are totally preoccupied talking about gum and sand in there teeth. It’s the little things in this movie that make it funny and serious at the same time.
Overall I really enjoy David o Russell’s films. To me, I don’t get the same feeling in all of his movies, which is a good thing. I get very consumed into his films, feeling like I am right next to the action rather than watching it on a TV screen. This feeling leaves me thinking about the film rather than just forgetting about it 20 minutes later.

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