Movie Reviews: Rounders


Rounders

For any poker player, Rounders is the equivalent of A Field of Dreams for baseball or Hoosiers for basketball.

To me, this film works as a poker movie (the only one besides Maverick) and a drama. 

I’m not gonna lie, when I was younger and played a ton of poker after the “Moneymaker” moment,  I watched this film like every week. You see, every home game would play this in the background over and over and everyone would nod their head at how they would have kicked the legs from Teddy KGB and reraised Johnny Chan as well.

For a poker player, this movie might have contributed to the poker boom and WSOP Dream as much as Chris Moneymaker’s Miracle run. It came in 1998 to little fanfare and was certainly ahead of its time. 

Ironically, it’s a movie where poker and cheating play a big part, showing the honest people that play and the assholes that give it a bad name. When the cops beat the crap out of them for cheating, I really don’t mind. They deserve it.

Flash forward 12 years or so, and life imitated art when all the “big stars” (aka criminals, thieves, fraudsters) of rigged sites like Full Tilt poker had the FBI freeze the site, because as it came to be known, people like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson took all the money in the accounts and paid themselves, like a Ponzi scheme. 

In a way, all the degenerate gamblers who got lucky in the early 2000s got in on the con and enriched themselves with everyday people’s money. Grandma that just wanted to casually play 25 cent poker? Bam, Full Tilt robbed her. 

Ironically, a few poker players like Howard Lederer’s sister Annie Duke advocated that poker is a skill game and should be able to be played online for money in the US while her brother was giving her money from people’s accounts. 

They are the Worms of poker. 

From what I hear, they avoided the WSOP until this year after posting online an apology. Every single person I talked to playing WSOP events think the same thing. They are all a fraud and should rot in jail. All of them. Just like Worm.

Funny how in a country that if you rob a gas station for $50 you can get 20 years in jail. Rob $100 million from poker accounts and nothing happens.

Rounders is a masterpiece. The movie is even better today and holds up in theme and character arcs. I’ve seen it more than any movie outside the Empire Stikes Back.

Movie Review: Good Will Hunting

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Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant

This was the movie that was the launching pad or maximum altitude for many careers.

Robin Williams won the Academy Award (comedians acting serious tend to make better films than when they try to act funny, the same phenomenon with Will Ferrell)

1997 was the rare breakout and crash of Minnie Driver’s career (despite her also being fantastic Gross Point Blank). I coin this as breakcrashing. Name me other actors that pull off the rare feet of breaking out in two iconic breakout roles, only to have their career blow up the other way. For example, F.Murray Abraham goes from Scarface to winning an oscar for Amadeus, then faded to career oblivion. Anyone can screw up after a big hit or breakout role, but to have two in a row, then blow up is another talent all together.

Stellan Skarsgard plays himself. I truly think so. He has played pretty much the same character in every film I’ve ever seen him in. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Avengers; it doesn’t matter. He is the opposite of Mini Driver in a way. His maximum altitude peaked 20 years ago and he keeps on coasting along in some imaginary typecast glider of solitude.

Then there was Gus Van Sant. He hasn’t been trusted to make a big budget movie since, and in his relative creative hibernation has chosen not to make any good indie movies ever since. He even reteamed with Matt Damon in Promised Land, an boring movie about the dangers and corruption of fracking, but he forgot he needed a good script. There was some critical acclaim for Milk, however, I believe this has less to do on the merits of the film rather than being the “agenda film” of the year and having Sean Penn go all-out for the role. By both box office and rotten tomato-rating, his career never surpassed Good Will Hunting.

For Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, and Matt Damon, they took all the good leaf clovers in Boston and stuck it down their pants. This was superfly TNT in a jar. It was the launching pad to solid careers, in terms of commercial appeal and longevity. Ben’s career is just as successful as Matt Damon’s, with box office returns and critical acclaim. Branching out to directing has been a solid move. Say what you want about Casey Affleck not getting any huge breaks for summer tent pole releases, but he did mighty fine in the Ocean’s 11 series and did a wonderful job acting as the coward Robert Ford. The opening and closing narration scenes of that film is heavy and deep and epic, something I would imagine a literal adaptation to a Cormac McCarthy novel would be.

The movie itself is wonderful. You all know this. You’ve watched it on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, HBO, CBS, TNT, and for you younger folk probably even watched it in High School as some inspiring tale of overcoming obstacles. In a way, this film stretches reality a bit farther than his potato movie in a series of coincidences. Not only is Matt Damon a gifted genius with unparalleled mathematical talents, but just so happens to be recovering from an abusive past, in a bad neighborhood in Boston (a southie). But because he is in Boston and not say, Wichita, Mumbai, Bogota, Timbuktu (the Wichita of Mali) he chooses to work as a janitor and solve equations at MIT. He doesn’t put his skills to use earlier for reasons unknown. Nope, the magic happens when he wears those overalls and works with a mop. Then he also chooses to solve the unsolvable after already solving another problem, except this time, he chooses to do it while he knows people are in the building, Ok. I get it, the movie needs the plot to move forward. Then it just so happens an old friend (aka the last resort) of the professor is Robin Williams. Fine. Coincidence. Just like when Matt Damon finally meets a nice girl, it is during his counseling, not before or after and as a side plot point, she just so happens to go to Harvard. The entire film is like this, but to tell you the truth, I don’t care. The movie works. I want to hear the stories in the bar, I want to hear Matt Damon tell off that snobby elitist student, just like I want to tell you to see this movie if you are one of the few who have not seen it already.

How about them apples?

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 Apples

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Movie Reviews: The Martian

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The Martian directed by Ridley Scott

I had a little deja vu when I watched this. I swear I saw Tom Hanks Matt Damon who worked for FedEx NASA get stranded on an island Mars and have to figure out how to get off, not before losing a ton of weight and growing a beard.

Yes, I know, I jest a little, but the movie was totally like that. On one hand we have Matt Damon talking into a video cam so the viewer can know this thoughts. On the other, we have Tom Hanks talking to Wilson the volleyball.

I preferred the volleyball.

The producers had already made the conscience choice to deviate from the novel and focus half the story with people on earth to give it an Apollo 13 vibe. I don’t know why we had to suffer through a ton of dash cam footage of Matt Damon as he attempted to grow potatoes. They could have treated the audience as adults and not made the feel like they were in 9th grade chemistry. People didn’t give a shit about the sciences that goes into potato making before and won’t give a shit after. Just show a montage of what he was doing and fast forward.

And for this, I’ll have to say we have a decent film, but caked in a red planet for boredom. Riddle me this; why did Matt Damon want to get off of Mars? Because it was boring as hell.

The movie could have done more. Maybe they should have totally copied Apollo 13 and showed Matt Damon on Earth beforehand and the relationships he had built before the mission, and then the reaction of when everyone thought he was lost. Then we could have pulled for those people the entire film. Can you imagine the emotional reaction of his loved ones knowing he was alive instead of random scientists? I don’t know about you, but most films don’t typically rely on scientists, in this case actual rocket scientists, to be the emotional counterweight.

It’s tricky adapting books into film. Sometimes the film is better, like in The Bourne Identity, The Hunt for Red October, The Shining, 2001 Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park, and Get Shorty. Sometimes it is reverse, like in Timeline, Sphere, The Hobbit, Enders Game, and Atlas Shrugged. I don’t really know how this movie compares with the book since I’ve only read the first 30 pages or so, but based on how boring it was to watch, I am unlikely to ever finish reading the novel.

Leave a comment and let me know which category the film fits in.

Movie Rating: 7/10 Potatoes

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Who Took Part?

Every so often while phenomenons sweep through the nation like wild fire.

The rubik’s cube.

The pet rock.

The slinky.

The Macarena.

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge swept through the nation, freezing all the wild fire from the east coast to the west coast. Celebrities of all kinds participated in the ritual of having ice dumped over your head.

MATT DAMON (With Toilet Water)

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TOM CRUISE (Looking Cold)4613338032.jpg

Not to be left out, business people got involved

BILL GATES (With Contraption)

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MARK ZUCKERBERG (Looking Happy)

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Not to be left out of the attention, politicians of years past involved.

GEORGE W. BUSH (With Laura)

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JOHN MCCAIN (With D’Backs Organization)Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 7.00.13 PM.png

SARAH PALIN (Turned Away?)

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MITT ROMNEY (Took It All)

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PAUL RYAN (In Mid Speech)

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Not to be topped, athletes participated.

LEBRON JAMES (Where is the Ice?)

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JAMES HARRISON (EXTREME ICE CHALLENGE … WOW!!!) 

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Look at the stats per http://blog.iconosquare.com/time-frame-viral-ice-bucket-challenge/

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This got me thinking. How many of the presidential candidates this cycle took the challenge in 2014? President Obama and Vice President Biden famously wrote a check instead. (President Obama gave $100)

MARTIN O’MALLEY

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BOBBY JINDAL

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SCOTT WALKER

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JOHN KASICH

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CHRIS CHRISTIE

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TED CRUZ

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DONALD J. TRUMP

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You can interpret the data as need be. The winner was clearly the ALS Association, raising $100 million since.

NEXT: CHECK OUT THE CONFUSING 2016 PRESIDENTIAL FASHION CAMPAIGN 

 

Movie Reviews: Interstellar

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Talk about a great director with a big idea that falls flat, so much so, you kind of want to go back in time to only imagine the movie playing out in your head after getting excited watching the preview. You know the feeling. Everyone does. The preview gets you in the movie with a big tub of popcorn and leaves you confused and in a butter-coma.

The movie breaks Christopher Nolan’s streak of making good movies starting with the letter “I” and to me, I give me him a pass on it for trying something out of this world. The story about a doomed planet and a hero out to save it isn’t exactly new. Practically half of the Sci-Fi written in the last sixty years have some sort of “dying earth” story (I stayed at a Holiday Inn express last night, so my statistics might be slightly off).

The movie starts off as a doomsday story, then it goes all Armageddon via wormhole on us, followed by meeting Matt Damon aka “The Martian” who then goes all crazy on everyone (aka going “Full Lucas” on this blog), then out of nowhere it tries to top the ending of 2001 Space Odyssey by doing some sort of M.Night Shamalamadingdong on us with some paranormal time eighty-fifth dimension on us.  In the end, Matt “Mcconaissance” McConaughey meets his daughter who has aged, who tells him to go see Mrs.Princess Bride on the far off distant planet. To me, I think the movie should have started there after a 10 minute flashback/prologue, then we could have seen how the civilization grew. It was almost like one decent nugget in our minds to imagine as if it was a … preview … oh, I see what happened, Christopher Nolan you sly dog. You just made the greatest and longest preview for $165 million.

Will McConaughey teach the new civilization how to snorkel? Will he hook up with the Princess Bride of new planet? Will there be a failure to launch? Would Woody Harrelson consider joining the cast of a sequel so they can have detective stories on the new planet?

Movie Rating: 6/10 stars

Movie as an over budget Preview Rating: 10/10 stars

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