Blow vs. American Hustle

Blow (2001) was a film adaptation of the book, From the Inside about the cocaine industry in the United States during the 70s.  Delivered compliments of George Jung, the American smuggler connected with notorious Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder, and the Medellín Cartel, they were responsible for about 85 percent of the cocaine used during the 70s. It was one of my favorite performances by Johnny Depp. Directed by Ted Demme, who also played George Jung’s smuggling buddy, Archie, I thought it an incredible biopic with exceptional acting by the ensemble cast. It featured awesome music from the 70s to enhance the scene’s mood, great cinematography, sexy poisonous women, shady deals, FBI stings, greed and reinvention, gaudy clothes and one of the worst decades for men’s hair styles. Sound like another film you’ve recently seen?

Penelope Cruz, Ethan Suplee, Paul Reubens, and Ray Liotta gave outstanding performances.

David O. Russell, director and co-writer of American Hustle, has a knack for bringing out high energy performances from his actors. As was the case for The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, actors who join his team are often Oscar nominated. His magic with his ensembles makes him one of the top directors working today.

Narrators tell their stories in both films while trying to keep control. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale play their shady characters with enough charm for the audience to ignore their illegal and amoral behavior. After all, in George Jung’s case, being the American connection bridging ruthless Columbian drug dealers to a younger generation seduced by the charms of cocaine affected millions of people and destroyed how many lives in the process? George Jung is due to be released from prison in 2015 after spending the last 30 years in it. Depp made me feel for the criminal. What a powerful performance not to be missed.

Two themes in each film were the addiction of the chase and the greed for money. While the games people pay in the fast lane are intoxicating, was the price they paid worth it?  Which film do you think is better?

Here’s a trailer if you haven’t seen Blow.

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