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Hustle and bustle; Kineticcomicthrilleraninstantclassic.

Byline: AMERICAN HUSTLE By David Edwards Film Reporter

SOME of this actually happened," a title card mischievously informs us at the start of David O Russell's heady crime-thriller-cum-comedy.

Proving his Silver Linings Playbook was no fluke, the director's follow-up is our film of the year by many a mile.

It's not the intensity of the performances, the number of zingy one-liners or the gloriously enjoyable story that makes this a modern classic, but the crackling, anarchic energy that overflows from every scene. Not since Goodfellas has America's dark, criminal underbelly been explored with such verve.

Set in the late 70s, the film's focus is New York con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his lover (Amy Adams) who, after being caught in a sting, are forced to work for Bradley Cooper's FBI agent. It's a deal that leads them into the world of a politician on the take (Jeremy Renner) and even the Mafia.

Russell has taken huge liberties with the truth to create an outlandish story full of such larger-than-life characters.

It's Bale, sporting a comb-over for the period, who owns the screen as the buffoonish but deadly lead. With lapels of wingspan dimensions and Reactolites that seem to darken with his mood, this might be his best performance yet - although it's Jennifer Lawrence as his brassy, estranged wife being heavily tipped for an Oscar.

Gongs are also due for the talented costume designers who have recreated the horrors of the beige age with such hilarious aplomb.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: THE 3D MOVIE (U) The hit BBC TV series lumbers onto the big screen for an effects-laden extravaganza whose weakest point is a storyline that predates cave paintings. Still, the movie earns points for attempting to educate as well as entertain its target audience of under-10s.

John Leguizamo, Justin Long, and Karl Urban provide the cheesy voiceovers for this extremely tame amble through the Late Cretaceous period which is likely to make older eyeballs roll.

MOSHI MONSTERS: THE MOVIE (U) IF Timothy Leary had ever got into the kids' film business, the result would have looked a lot like this. A psychedelic rollercoaster ride to the outer realms of oddness, it's less a case of wondering what the makers were thinking as to questioning what they were on.

The weirdness unfolds in Monstro City where reluctant kitty heroes Katsuma and Poppet embark on a quest to retrieve The Great Moshling Egg, stolen by supervillain Dr Strangeglove and his sidekick Glump.

There follows a trip through candy caves and the Indian-themed world of Jollywood where our heroes, to the drone of sitars, meditate their way to an alternate reality.

And I didn't make that last bit up.

The animation barely rivals an episode of Danger Mouse, but it's certainly colourful with every single scene looking like a postcard that might be sold in an Amsterdam coffeehouse.

CAPTION(S):

Just say no to Moshi Monsters ? Jurassic lark: A lightweight script lets down Walking With Dinosaurs

Jennifer Lawrence is being tipped for a second Oscar thanks to her turn as Bale's estranged wife in American Hustle

Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence all shine despite hideous 70s wardrobes
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Dec 22, 2013
Words:531
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