The Gambler reviews

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 8183
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Re: The Gambler reviews

Postby Reza » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:44 pm

I thought I was the only one around cursed by the "goddamn 403". I'm so relieved I'm not.

By the way what is that 403 and why are we plagued by it?

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6528
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Gambler reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:52 am

There's more to the Variety review, but the goddamn 403 hit me, and i don't have the time/patience to play with it. Hardly worth it for what's probably a mediocre movie, based on a film so dreary I can't figure why anyone opted to remake it.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6528
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

The Gambler reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:46 am

Variety
Justin Chang
Chief Film Critic@JustinCChang

There’s enough swaggering cynicism for three pictures but barely enough soul to sustain even one in Rupert Wyatt’s “The Gambler,” a stylish, energetic but disappointingly glib remake of Karel Reisz’s still-potent 1974 drama of the same title. Mark Wahlberg tears into one of his meatiest roles as an English professor drowning in a sea of blackjack debts and self-destructive impulses, a born risk-taker who’s aptly described as everything from “the kind of guy that likes to lose” to “the world’s stupidest asshole.” But it’s that surfeit of macho attitude in William Monahan’s script that keeps Wahlberg from coming anywhere near James Caan’s sly brilliance in the earlier film, making this a movie of slick, surface-level pleasures that’s unpersuasive at its core. In a roll of the awards-season dice, Paramount is launching “The Gambler” Dec. 19 with a one-week Oscar-qualifying run before its Jan. 2 wide release, when the collective draw of Wahlberg and a juicy supporting cast should yield solid if not hefty B.O. payouts.

Released just a month after “California Split,” Robert Altman’s more idiosyncratic take on the pleasures and perils of going all in, Reisz’s original “Gambler” marked the heavily autobiographical screenwriting debut of James Toback, who initially objected when Paramount announced plans for a remake without his knowledge. (The scribe has since given the project his blessing and received an exec producer credit, while original producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff retain those credits here.) In its broad narrative outlines if not its jazzier sense of style, the remake remains largely faithful to Toback’s self-probing study of a Harvard-educated New York academic who finds himself increasingly at the mercy of his gambling addiction, alienating his nearest and dearest while seeking to evade and outwit all the bookies and collectors on his tail.

In this Los Angeles-set retelling, Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a cynical motormouth who spends most of his evenings at the blackjack tables and roulette wheels of a Korean-run establishment, where he’s racked up enough debt that the casino’s tolerant owner, Mr. Lee (Alvin Ing), can no longer turn a blind eye. Learning that he has one week to pay back $240,000 or face grievous consequences, Bennett makes his situation immediately worse by accepting $50,000 from a beret-wearing loan shark named Neville Baraka (Michael Kenneth Williams), establishing a pattern of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, and squandering every bailout that comes his way. On more than one occasion, Bennett approaches big-time lender Frank (a superb, bald-pated John Goodman), who warns him not to make the mistake of appropriating his services, lest he find himself forced to pay the ultimate price.

Bennett’s compulsion springs at least partly from his privileged upbringing, and he reacts with more contempt than gratitude when his acerbic mother, Roberta (Jessica Lange), coughs up the requisite quarter-million in cash, though she warns him that it’s the last time she’ll come to his rescue. But a solution that easy would scarcely satisfy the story’s dramatic requirements, much less Bennett himself, who seems hooked on more than just the possibility of winning big. What excites him is the far more dangerous thrill of pushing himself to the limits and potentially losing everything, so that he can rely on his wits and sheer dumb luck to pull himself back from the brink. When a concerned croupier balks at dealing him another hand, telling him it’s for his own good, Bennett fires back: “You don’t come here for the fucking protection.”


Return to “2014”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest