Magazine February 7, 2011, Issue

Heavyweight Fights

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine (The Weinstein Company)

Like many filmmakers beloved for their transgressiveness, David O. Russell is at his best when he plays things relatively straight. Russell’s reputation as an edgy provocateur rests on such films as the incest comedy Spanking the Monkey and the New Agey anti-Walmart satire I Heart Huckabees, and it’s been buttressed by his “bad boy” antics on his movies’ sets. (His furious tirade against Lily Tomlin during the Huckabees shoot, captured on video and disseminated online, vies with the famous recording of Christian Bale cursing out a Terminator Salvation cameraman as the best recent example of Hollywood ego run amok.) But

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