David Russell

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

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David Russell

Spanking the Monkey (1994)

The manic Flirting with Disaster (1996) established him as a major independent filmmaker.

Three Kings (1999) is a mediocre war movie. Il ritmo nevrotico e una storia piu` o meno critica dei militari non bastano a redimere un banale film di guerra in cui ovviamente i buoni vincono.

In Iraq nel 1991, alla fine della guerra, un gruppo di Americani e` alloggiato in mezzo al deserto. Fra di loro: Argin, Troy, Conrad e il maggiore Archie. Attorno a loro ronzano i giornalisti, fra cui una reporter giovane e attraente e la frustrata Adriane. Archie, incaricato dei rapporti con la stampa, viene sorpreso mentre fa l'amore con la giovane reporter. Intanto arrestano alcuni soldati iraqeni e scoprono che nel sedere di uno di loro e` nascosta una mappa: la mappa dei bunker di Saddam. Archie intuisce subito che quei bunker contengono la refurtiva del Kuwait e in particolare i lingotti d'oro e propone agli altri tre di andare a rubarli.
Mandano Adriane su una falsa pista e si mettono in moto verso il primo villaggio. Irrompono nel villaggio e si trovano subito nel mezzo delle dispute interne: i soldati di Saddam non tentano di opporsi ai soldati Americani, purche' gli Americani li lascino liberi di continuare a torturare e massacrare i dissindenti. I dissindenti e i civili accolgono gli Americani come eroi, ma gli Americani li ignorano e puntano direttamente al bunker. Nel bunker scoprono un prigioniero che viene torturato e trovano il tesoro. Si preoccupano soltanto del tesoro, in quanto gli Americani non hanno diritto di intervenire negli affari interni dell'Iraq, e pertanto non e` compito loro aiutare i dissindenti (anche se e` chiaro che verranno uccisi appena gli Americani partiranno con il tesoro). Soltanto all'ultimo momento si preoccupano di liberare il torturato e soltanto quando un soldato fredda una donna, che li implora di non partire, sotto i loro occhi Archie decide di intervenire. Portano via il torturato e i civili. Gli Iraqeni li inseguono e li bombardano con bombe chimiche. Alcuni civili saltano in aria correndo fra le mine. Troy viene catturato. Gli altri vengono salvati da un rifugio sotterraneo dove finalmente riescono a respirare. Gli uomini della resistenza portano in salvo anche tutto l'oro.
Troy riesce a chiamare la moglie con un cellulare trovato nel bunker e a darle le sue coordinate ma poi viene torturato da un soldato che ha perso la famiglia in un bombardamento, ed era stato addestrato dagli Americani durante la guerra contro l'Iran.
I partigiani chiedono ad Archie una parte dell'oro in cambio di aiuto per liberare Troy: vogliono anche essere trasportati in Iran. Il torturato conduce gli Americani al villaggio di altri partigiani, che hanno sottratto a Saddam una flotta di Rolls Royce, rubate al Kuwait. Archie compra le auto.
Adriane intanto si e` persa nei pozzi di petrolio ma costringe la sua guida a confessare la verita`.
I partigiani e gli Americani irrompono nel bunker a bordo delle auto di lusso facendo credere che si tratti della carovana di Saddam. Ma presto i partigiani, aiutati da un elicottero, li attaccano. Conrad muore e Troy viene gravemente ferito appena liberato. Trovano una radio e chiamano la guida di Adriane. Arriva una colonna di autocarri e arriva Adriane che si mette a filmare tutto. Archie sta ai patti e usa gli autocarri per portare i civili al confine con l'Iran. Ma proprio a quel punto la polizia militare gli arriva addosso e arresta tutti gli Americani, lasciando che i soldati Iraqeni al confine arrestino tutti i civili. Archie e compagni riescono pero` a convincere la polizia militare che quei civili verrebbero massacrati e, quasi a malincuore, il capo della polizia militare va a chiedere agli Iraqeni che lascino passare i civili. Il tutto soltanto perche' Adriane sta filmando la scena.
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I Love Huckabees (2004)

The Fighter (2010)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

American Hustle (2013)

Joy (2015) is, ultimately, a variant on the fable of Cinderella, but, unfortunately, a very mediocre one. The film is way too long and too slow. Russell's trademark madness is confined to the first few minutes, after which the film drags on with too little to keep it alive.

The main story is prefaced and interrupted by a soap eopera in which a woman is trying to entice another woman to kill her husband.
The main story is narrated by Joy's grandmother who begins the story from Joy's childhood. Joy is a very creative child who builds an imaginary world using just paper. Grandmother encouraged her to become a strong and smart woman. Success: Joy grows up to be a strong and smart woman, who always comes up with technical inventions, but has to cope with a dysfunctional family. Her mother is separated and does little more than watching tv, mesmerized by a character who returns as a ghost on a popular tv show, and Joy has to do all the work around the house and even clean the mess that her mom leaves behind. Joy has two children and is divorced from her husband Tony, a Hispanic singer who still rehearses in her basement. One day her father Rudy comes back and, after he fights again with her mother, she puts him in the basement with her ex-husband. She works for Eastern Airlines and is assigned to the night shift. She has traumas of the day when her parents fought and accidentally destroyed her paper buildings and of the day she met her husband at a salsa party and how her father ruined her wedding. Rudy has already been divorced three times and now dates Trudy, a wealthy widow. The entire family is invited on Trudy's yacht. Joy gets the inspiration for a new inventions, for the first time in 17 years, since the time that her paper buildings were destroyed. Exhausted, she falls asleep on the stairs of her house and dreams that she lives inside her mother's favorite soap opera. When she wakes up, she decides that both Rudy and Tony need to move out and that she wants to build her invention and that she wants Rudy's girlfriend to fund it. While she's working on her blueprints, her mother falls in love with a Haitian plumber who is fixing the mess she caused in her room. Joy asks Trudy for money. Trudy accepts to give it to her but it sounds like a Faustian deal: Trudy asks Joy whether she would kill a competitor to defend her investment, and Joy has to say yes. Joy's older half-sister Peggy (from Rudy's first marriage) is jealous, and Joy'childhood friend Jackie and her ex-husband advise her against the deal, but Joy is too determined. She hires a group of poor women and starts manufacturing her invention (a kind of mop) in her father's shop. The problem is that Trudy forces Joy to do business with a dishonest businessman who overbills her. When the mop is ready to ship, shops don't want to sell it and executives are puzzled by her business strategy. She tries to sell the mop in a parking lot but she almost gets arrested. Her ex-husband Tony helps her meet the right person who finally gives her a chance. He orders thousands of mops but she doesn't have the money to make them. She has to mortgage her home. The whole family convenes in front of the tv set when the company broadcasts the live demonstration of the mop, but it is a failure and a humiliating failure for Joy. Her family wants her to file for bankruptcy but she confronts the executives and gets another chance. This time she herself demonstrates the product on the tv show. Her show is a success and she sells all the thousands of mops that she made. Everything seems to be going well but suddenly grandmother dies. We still hear her grandmother's voice talking about Joy. During the funeral her father tells Joy that there's a problem with the manufacturer who is trying to rip her off. Peggy and her father advise her to accept to lose money because they hope to make money with that manufacturer on another project that they have. Joy takes the plane and confronts the manufacturer in person. He's obviously a crook. She sneaks into the factory and finds blueprints of a patent application for her invention. The crook calls the police accusing her of trespassing and she gets arrested. It turns out she's been naive and Trudy's lawyer caused her to lose the rights on the invention. Her father and Trudy advise her again to file for bankruptcy, and Joy breaks down. She signs the papers but then takes off to confront the crook's boss, a Texas magnate who has engineered the whole scam. She does her own investigation instead of trusting Rudy's lawyers, and exposes his fraud. He is forced to pay her back and suspend any claims on her invention. Her grandmother continues the narration. Joy gets rich, very rich.
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