When Scorsese Imitates Scorsese
The Confidence Men
In addition to sharing the inside track for a fistful of Oscars in January, both David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” feature confidence men as antiheroes. They also are based on actual historical events, with the late 70s Abscam sting of American politicians featured in Russell’s film, and the rise and fall of penny stock swindler Jordan Belfort in the late 80s dramatized by Scorsese. Although both Abscam and the Belfort tale are ripe for social commentary, the primary goal of these two “prestige” directors is to make entertaining films that dance around the social problems they should address. Finally, both films are imitations of Martin Scorsese, a director who has seen better days. “American Hustle” borrows liberally from the tricks of the Scorsese trade and so does Scorsese himself, who in his 25th film since 1972 ends up plagiarizing “Goodfellas”.