Amsterdam (2022)
October 7, 2022 10:38 PM - Subscribe

Set in the '30s, it follows three friends (Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington) who witness a murder, become suspects themselves, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.

A very awkward script partially rescued by solid acting and occasionally inspired camerawork.
posted by praemunire (7 comments total)
I'm a bit surprised by how much I liked this. David O. Russell is one of my least favorite directors, and I'm not a huge fan of any of the major actors except Timothy Olyphant (I don't dislike anyone, they're just not actors I seek out much). I didn't even know what the movie was really about, but enjoyed the trailer enough to go to a matinee this morning (my friend and I were half of the four people in the theatre).

The script was a bit ramshackle, yeah, and it could have used a tighter edit, but I still enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. It had so many things I just really want right now: unconventional relationships (polycules! of sorts! interracial romances! ride or die friendships between people who wouldn't usually even be friends!), personal redemptions, the reclamation of Smedley Butler (I kept thinking, this is Butler, right? so the ending made me happy), and best of all, punching Nazis. I'm a woman of simple pleasures, and those things can make me happy right now, especially the Nazi punching.

John David Washington has always seemed really remote and distant to me, unengaging in the things I've seen him in, but here he was as charismatic as his dad--my friend was saying that they should all play wierd characters in period pieces only from now on. That scene where you can see him literally falling in love with Margo Robbie's character was just magical. (Also, holy cow, she's pretty, yeah, but I just kept going "wow!" out loud at how freaking beautiful she is with brown hair. Man! She looked stunning. I also thought Zoe SaldaƱa has never looked more luminous.) And how great was it to see Robert De Niro actually acting for a change instead of mugging.

I still cannot believe that cast--every few minutes when some new character showed up, I was like "holy crap!" Even small almost throwaway characters like the detectives were played by Alessandro Nivola and Matthias Schoenarts, so it was really fun to play spot the actor. It was kind of wild. I've never actually wanted to rewatch one of Russell's movies, but I definitely want to see this one again. I'll take a fun, interesting, less-than-perfect movie over polished and boring any day.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:27 PM on October 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

I also went to see it based solely on the trailer. Although I basically agree with most of what kitten kaboodle wrote, the whole thing didn't quite gel for me. To be fair, I went to see it in a theatre with big cozy recliner chairs and definitely dozed off a couple times, so maybe if I had more discipline I would have liked it better.

The scene where Washington and Robbie fall in love is absolutely a stand out, well shot and edited and acted. There were a number of scenes like that, beautifully composed and acted - I also liked the autopsy, and the use of the "in film" camera footage of their parties in Amsterdam and at the gala. In addition, I think the makeup team did a great job.

But the trailer made me expect a kind of buddy caper film. The story was in there, alright, but it was padded out with a lot of extraneous crap that made it feel even longer than it's 2 h 14 m runtime. I think the entire plot of Bale's wife and in-laws could have been a minute of exposition or axed entirely without losing anything key to the movie. (I did doze off, again, so maybe I missed why that was necessary, but I didn't need it as backstory)

I would also have axed some of the narration about love and art vs fascism. Yeah, I have seen the movie you presented, the themes are there!

Still, I will probably rewatch this on streaming at some point to try to fill in the gaps I missed and enjoy the numerous enjoyable bits.
posted by the primroses were over at 8:09 AM on October 9, 2022

I'm a woman of simple pleasures, and those things can make me happy right now, especially the Nazi punching.

I freely admit that it hit some of my sweet spots (most of which overlap with yours), so there were stretches I really did enjoy (I think everybody liked the falling-in-love sequence, even if it wasn't groundbreaking). But if it doesn't happen to gratify your longings, gosh, it's a mess.
posted by praemunire at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2022

(And, yeah, holy shit, Robbie in that dress at the gala? A look to die for.)
posted by praemunire at 11:31 AM on October 9, 2022

Just finished this, and the clunkiness of the script ruined it for me. So many voiceover recaps of the plot, often immediately after the things in question had just happened. Some of the characters seemed to alternate between a weird childlike diction and pithy, not-very-interesting aphorisms about the meaning of love or life, and everyone takes it in stride, or just transitions with them into making capital-S Statements.

Also, what waste of Timothy Olyphant!
posted by sagc at 11:11 AM on December 28, 2022

Just watched this. Fully enjoyed it. I can see why people would be impatient with all the side plots, but I feel like that's part of the texture of the movie, and say what you will, it's all about texture. The little side-conversation Burt has with Det. Getweiler about pain pills. The way Burt absolutely will not let go of those flowers in the opening sequence. Ornithological crimes. I think all that stuff plays into Burt's epiphany at the end, and the Wall Street Putsch, as interesting as it is (and as little known as it is) is more an excuse to tell a story about these characters than the real point of the movie.

As I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong) the plotters behind the Putsch were not explicitly allied with Europe's fascists, so that's a liberty the movie is taking, which is fine, but if they're going to bring organized fascists into it, they missed an opportunity by not bringing in the Silver Shirts, who would have been active at the time the story was set.

I was especially impressed with Christian Bale. Within just a few seconds, you could see that Burt was a fully developed character, and his posture and strained facial expression told his story as much as his words. I know that's his schtick, but still: impressive. There are a lot of big-name actors who always play themselves (or the same persona).

I think someone could write a decent paper on the accents used in this movie. Burt's broad accent, Valerie's more restrained one, Tom Voze's (autocorrect changes that to "ooze" appropriately enough!) hint of Locust Valley Lockjaw, Canterbury's "pip pip cheerio" routine (I wonder if this is Mike Meyers' new default persona).
posted by adamrice at 10:22 AM on January 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

I've been thinking about this a little and I think this film will probably be most remembered for its delightful Extremely Rich People in Rami Malek and Anya Taylor-Joy.
posted by praemunire at 12:16 PM on January 15, 2023

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