David O. Russell is without a doubt a most brilliant writer, filmmaker, and director, and deservedly honored at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, February 2014. In his Oscar nominated film, American Hustle, he has masterfully uncovered the underbelly of American politics and social mores, inspired by the real life Abscam scandal of 1978. He is one of the most talented directors of our time, entering the realm of Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen. Being a writer, director, and filmmaker, he is truly a ‘triple threat,’ so in tune with hearing the voice of America, and reinventing it onscreen.
In the tribute held at the historic and grand Arlington Theatre, the audience was treated to hear David O. Russell share some darkly comedic stories of his life journey (as evidenced in his body of work, including I Huckabees; Spanking the Monkey; Flirting with Disaster; The Fighter; Silver Linings Playbook; and American Hustle.) His audacity as a filmmaker is truly “all about re-invention,” and in so doing, he has explored once taboo subject matters, including incest, war, and mental illness. He calls his three films, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, “the transcendent trilogy of re-invention.”
He has definitely hit his stride as an artist, confident with two feet firmly on the ground, with films that strike a nerve, and truly delve into the American psyche. It is obvious that he has so much love and admiration for the everyday, local character, finding some enchantment and redemption in seemingly everyday occurrences. From humble beginnings, as a son of a NYC bookstore owner, David O. Russell has evolved into an iconic storyteller, his own true story of triumph/re-invention. He has pushed the envelope, with great characters of incredible emotional pull; style amidst controlled chaos; and performances nothing short of extraordinary. His direction has nurtured the careers of amazing talents, including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Amy Adams. Russell commented on his strong female characters ( a running theme in the SBIFF this year): The female character I create are true forces of nature…women running the world. I have known formidable women in my family and world… strong women are the stalwarts of great cinema.”
David O. Russell, a “modern cinematic alchemist,” leaves his audience totally in awe of his artistry, with each film imparting spiritual insight and humor, combined.