Superficial reaction to trailer for David O. Russell’s Amsterdam: This is a manic, half-truthful 1930s yarn — a weaving of fact and fiction that seems, at first glance, both intricate and confusing. Amsterdam is a kind of farcical crime comedy about three close friends — a pair of ex-soldiers played by Christian Twitchy-Face Bale and John David Washington, and an ex-nurse portrayed by Margot Robbie –— “who find themselves at the center of one of the most shocking secret plots in American history.” Except nobody wants to mention what the “secret plot” might be vaguely related to.
Slightly deeper analysis: I’ve watched the trailer three times, and all I can say is that Amsterdam feels to me like a hot mess. Whatever it’s actually about, Russell is (a) determined to hide the pertinent plot details, and (b) seems to have committed himself to a hyper hellzapoppin’ that involves juggling several plot threads and several characters. Has Russell bitten off more than he could chew? No idea but the trailer suggests that. It’s going to be fast and eccentric and mannered and wacky. Crazy plot, several affected characters, antsy energy and I swear to God I’ve NO FUCKING IDEA what it’s actually about.
Emmanuel Lubezski‘s warm, amber-brownish cinematography strikes me as pretty (it reminds me of Milos Forman‘s Ragtime) but a tad affected. I’m intrigued, of course, and obviously the dynamite cast will generate all kinds of pleasant distractions. (Talented people always do.) But it doesn’t feel right. Bo honest — the trailer is confusing.
What’s up with Chris Rock acting alarmed about a white guy corpse in a coffin without a top? What’s the issue? No clue. We have three woke musketeers (Bale, Robbie, Washington), fast friends whose history goes back to WWI…friends to the end in the midst of an almost totally segregated society of the 1930s, having formed a “pact” (committed to what or in search of what?).
Is the drop-dead beautiful Robbie sexual with either of them or both or none? Is there a little bit of Lubitsch’s Design for Living going on here, or not at all?
Frizzy-haired Bale says, “Do me a favor…try to be optimistic.” Okay, but optimistic about what? When Robbie says “Amsterdam,” it means what? Obviously not the Dutch city. Manhattan used to be called Amsterdam in the early days of this country, but what did it signify in the 1930s?
The trio is falsely accused of murdering somebody — the same friend of Robert DeNiro’s who was iced after witnessing something horrible. “Cuckoo”? All I know is that the trailer made me feel as if bees were buzzing around inside my head.
Question: Is this in fact the second film in which Bale has to find his false eye on the floor? A Reddit guy says the first time this happened was in The Big Short