“American Hustle” gives you your money’s worth at the movies. The Cowboys continue to creatively lose. And Jon Stewart, brilliant again

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**FYI: I feel an epic “Homeland” rant coming on for Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever I have time to properly vent about the season finale Sunday night…

One of the many great things about living in New York City is that movies often open in a few theaters here a week or two before they land everywhere else in America.

So it was that I got to see “American Hustle” in a packed house in Manhattan Saturday, and I can happily report that it met almost all my expectations.

It’s a wild, unpredictable, sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic film, that leaves you no doubt it’s a capital M Movie. You know how sometimes you spend 12 bucks to see a film in a theater and you’re like “Really, that’s all I got for my money?”
“American Hustle” is not at all like that. It’s got beautiful people, like Amy Adams (who should get an Oscar nom she was so good), Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. It has action scenes, a cracklingly-good script, great performances from all, and enough plot twists to surprise.

The first 45 minutes were fantastic, as we learn how small-time hustler Irving (Bale) and his faux-English girlfriend Sydney (Adams) get wrapped up in a plot by an FBI agent named Richie (Cooper) to take down bad guys much higher on the food chain than Irving and Sydney.

Lawrence is Irving’s wife, and Jeremy Renner shows up one of the con men, and for a while the movie all gives them time to shine.
About halfway through, though, it sort of stalled, for about a half-hour, and that’s why I don’t think it’s a four-star, amazing movie. It gets back going thanks to a super-famous cameo and a crazy ending plot, but it sort of meanders for a while.

Still, this movie is beautifully shot, and the 1970s clothes, hair and attitude are brilliant and hilarious. (Quick aside: Has Amy Adams ever not been great in a movie?).

Go see it, whether you lived through the ’70s or not. You will definitely get your money’s worth.

**And now, Jon Stewart at his eviscerating best, taking down Megyn Kelly and the Fox News Blondes for their ridiculous complaining about Santa Claus, Christmas, and a bunch of other crap they were complaining about.

Stewart really is a national treasure, isn’t he?

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**You know it’s been a delightful Jets season when they lose by 10 and you’re happy they kept it close.
That’s kind of how I felt Sunday; even when my boys showed life against the mighty Carolina Panthers down in Charlotte, cutting their deficit to 16-13 in the third quarter, I knew something was bound to go wrong soon.
And it did, in the form of a blocked punt that quickly got turned into a TD. Geno Smith did some good things, but did many bad things, and I still think they need another QB in 2014.

Two more losses and I expect the Rex Ryan era, which started with such promise, to mercifully come to an end.

Around the NFL with some quick-hit thoughts…

— Ah, the Cowboys. Entertainment from them is more guaranteed than death and taxes. Somehow they blew a huge fourth-quarter lead at home to Matt Flynn (Matt Flynn!!!) and the Packers Sunday, and Tony Romo threw two INT’s in the final minutes, like he’s legally required to do. And here they saw Philly lay an egg earlier in the day and figured to gain control of the NFL Least. Don’t ever change, Cowboys.

— The Giants haven’t looked this bad on offense since Ray Handley was their coach (look him up, younger readers).

— Can’t decide which team was more pathetic Sunday: The Bengals, getting blown out early in Pittsburgh, or the Raiders, giving up 56 to Kansas City. Will Oakland ever be good again?

— Always nice to see Tom Brady so pissed in a post-game press conference that he curses on live TV.

— Jamaal Charles (above), I love ya, but scoring 5 TDs after my fantasy team with you on it already failed to make the playoffs doesn’t do squat for me.

— Keep forgetting to link this, but Peter King on themmqb.com did a great 3-part series on the life of NFL officials, going deeply behind-the-scenes with them for a week. I came away with a whole new sense of respect for their job, their lives, and their skill at making split-second decisions. Check it out when you can.

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