Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Best Gambling Movies

We love nothing more than a flutter at the bookies, or a spin of the roulette wheel at the casino. If you do then you should really check this site out. In the meantime, From high stakes games at the casino Royale, to the seedy strips of downtown Vegas, Here's out pick of the best gambing movies out there....

Rounders

A fine 90s pick, this movie sees a young Matt Damon playing a student who pays for his college fees
by mastering the fine art of poker for big stakes. With some big names including John Malkovich, Edward Norton and John Tutturo, it has some big set pieces including a final, big stakes game which raises the pressure.

Casino

Continuing the rich vein that Scorsese was plowing at his best after Goodfellas, this movie sees De Niro and Pesci team up again for a tale of mob controlled casinos in Vegas. Just remember, Paul Verhoven was making Showgirls at the same time, about the same city! With a Rolling Stones soundtrack, great acting, and Sharon Stone, what else could a boy ask for?


Hard Eight

Paul Thomas Anderson's first bit feature film is an underrated classic, and involves down and outs in Vegas, gambling debts, hustlers and prostitutes, as you'd expect. With a cast including John C Reilly, Gwneth Paltrow, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Phil Baker Hall, it has many of the classic hallmarks of a PTA flick. A hark back to the character driven auteur style movies of the 1970s, there's some great dialogue, and it's a great first mark for the man who would go on to make Boogie Nights next.

Croupier

Starring a young Clive Owen (or should that be Clive Warren?) about a man who is a croupier by night, and writes in the daytime. His existing girlfriend is usurped by a head turning Alex Kingston (River Song of Dr Who), who wants to bet against the house and bring it down. With the classic line 'hold on tightly, let go lightly', it's a great showcase for a young actor who would go on to be in some amazing movies, not least Children of Men. 


The Colour Of Money

Another Scorsese flick, this 80s movie starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise in which the old pool hustler takes on a protege is the stuff the decade was made of. Newman won the Academy award for the leading role of 'Fast Eddie', which he reprised from the Hustler (1961), which is, by all accounts, the better movie. By the time of this movie Eddie is a retired salesman, and spots the potential in Cruise's character, spurring him on with advice and admonition including "pool excellence is not about excellent pool." Coming of age and the battle between young and old all make an appearance.

The Hustler

based on the Walter Tevis novel of 1959, some 20 plus years earlier, Newman played "fast Eddie" in the original movie The Hustler. It's all about a pool shark who moves from town to town hustling locals for all they're worth. Like all great gambling movies, it's really about winning and losing as a metaphor for life. It's also a insight into winning and losing at the heart of the American dream.

Upcoming Movies for 2018

Hi people! It's been a while since I've posted and so I thought I should check in and look at some of big movies that are forthcoming in the second half of 2018, as we head towards the end of summer and beyond.....

Slender Man

Slender Man is an internet myth that has grown over the years, and even been allegedly been responsible for several murders. Principle photography on the movie finished just last month, but given the anticipation around the story, can only grow. A girl disappears, and her friends go on the hunt for her, only to be haunted by the eponymous character.  As a premise, using this character sounds intriguing, and we can only hope that it works.


Bohemian Rhapsody

Sasha Baron Cohen may have missed out on the role due to creative differences, but Rami Malek of Mr Robot takes the rein, in what looks like a faithful telling of the Queen story. Since it's produced by the band themselves, expect a conservative telling of the story. And some great sing along moments.


Venom

On our favourite actors, Tom Hardy,  plays Marvel character Venom. While comic book movies have reached saturation point some time ago, there is occasionally a good one ,and we're hoping that this is it.

The Predator

Fans of the 80s original will have an eye on this upcoming remake about hostile aliens coming to attack earth after an alarm is set off. With director Shane Black one of the stars of the original, it will be interesting to see what he does with it.






Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Hack Update June 2014

hi ladies and gents! Long time no see. It's been a lifetime since I updated this blog, and hopefully I'll call in more often.

In recent months, my passion for movies has been rekindled somewhat, and I have thoroughly enjoyed movies including

1. Frank: A whimsical tale about the bit where music and madness meet. It has various hipster touchstones in it, like references to South By South West. Don't let that put you off. It's a funny but surprisingly sad tale of a band on the run in Ireland and then Texas, as a young man played by Domhnall Gleeson comes of age as their replacement keyboard player, with pretentions of power and youthful, ruthless ambition. The show is stolen by Michael Fassbender, who spends almost all of the movie behind a giant head mask with a permanently overjoyed expression on it. He plays the eccentric, deeply confused and fragile lead singer whose genius is curtailed by being bonkers. It's worth a watch, particularly if you've ever been young and in a band.

Llewyn Davis sure loves pussy
2. Inside Llewyn Davis: continuing the music theme, Oscar Isaac, who is currently showing in The Two Faces Of January in (wow, symmetry) a tale of thwarted musical ambition, plays a folk singer in a burgeoning early 60s Grenwich Village folk scene, with contemporaries like Bob Dylan. It's a bittersweet tale as he tries to kick start his career, and the usual random, comedic yet strange touches by the Coen Brothers. Great supporting performances from Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake. Evokes early 60s New York beautifully as a place of crampt flats, dusty dark offices, and smoke filled nightclubs - it looks great, and the bittersweetness of watching the death of a romantic person's idealism coming up against reality is very moving.

3. The Double: Richard Ayoade continues his excellent directing career with a step up professionally, with Jesse Eisenberg as the lead, a lonely, shy beta male character working in menal, low level office job. Until he discovers a man who looks exactly like him, but who exudes a massive level of charisma and personal charm - especially with the bosses and the ladies. Lots of complaints in reviews about how this is massively derivative of stuff like Brazil and other stuff, but just go and enjoy, it evokes this dark, claustrophobic world that is evocative of an imagined Eastern Bloc past, and just so compelling. It has an ambiguous, Fight Club style payoff, which almost had me shaking my fist at the screen, though.

4. Edge Of Tomorrow: Went in with mixed expectations, after checking out the Tomatometer and discovering this is doing quite well critically. Oblivion, last year's offering by Tom Cruise, was a bit middling, and sci-fi, so that lowed my expectations, however, but this is surprisingly good. Tom Cruise plays a reluctant hero who is forced into the frontline of a major battle on edge of mainland Europe, where an alien army is quickly colonising Earth and crushing everything in it's path. After becoming contaminated with a liquid from one of the Alien-like aliens, he repeats each day, meeting  supersolidier Emily Blunt, who enlists him to work out how to defeat the enemy. It's been said it has elements of Halo, Aliens, Groundhog Day and Source Code, amongst others, but it puts them together in a compelling way. The shots of a militarised London, and decaying Paris are truly impressive and believable. Blunt looks more beautiful than ever, playing a Ripley/Sarah Connor style ass kicker. The chemistry is vintage Cruise, he's on fine form. It's a movie that looks like a shallow summer blockbuster, but actually has a certain amount of hidden depth.

That's all I've got time for right now. Other movies I thoroughly enjoyed in recent months were Wolf Of Wall Street (3.5/5), The Hunt (4/5), Blue Ruin (4/5), Dallas Buyers Club (4/5), Her (4/5) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (3.5/5). I suggest you check them all out, and maybe I'll without waiting 2 years next before next time.....

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Smashed - Trailer

As a massive fan of Aaron Paul and Breaking Bad, I couldn't wait for his appearance in a Hollywood movie. Yes, he's popped in a few small roles previously, but the massive critical and eventual commercial success of the show was bound to open doors, as it has for his partner in crime, Bryan Cranston.

Anyway, this looks like a great choice for the actor most famous as a meth addict and cook / dealer Jesse, that was have come to know in BB. A brutal tale of star crossed lovers struggling with alcoholism, Smashed looks like everything I'd hoped AP would show us, intelligent, character driven drama. It's out now in cinemas in the US, and lets hope it follows very soon here in the UK.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: The Ides Of March

I have avoided writing reviews for some time. And, when I became of The Ides Of March last year, on its' release, I avoided it too.

There was something about the notion of Hollywood liberal and UN Ambassador George Clooney and his actor pals doing a self congratulating movie about the death of American liberalism that just turned me off. But I read it wrong. This movie is far more nuanced, a fascinating a character study, and an analysis of the corruption of the human being inside the Machiavellian US political machine.

At the heart of it is not Clooney (who directs, but doesn't even really appear until several minutes in, and then only sporadically), playing Governor Mike Morris, a Presidential Candidate going through the rigours of a Democratic Primary election in Ohio. It's his campaign staff, namely heart-throb of the moment, Canadian Ryan Gosling as Steven Myers, his second in command, who the action centres on, and his development from idealistic political ingĂ©nue to cynical insider.

While the movie begins with Myers helping his boss Paul Zara, played with effortlessly and gracefully by Philip Seymour Hoffman, when the campaign hits a snag, he embarks on an affair with beautiful young intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), 10 years his senior, who precociously seduces him.

But it's when he gets an offer from the rival campaign manager Paul Giamatti, and discovers a secret about Morris's personal life, that things begin to unravel, and his deep emotional bond of loyalty to his boss is questioned.

I have to say, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would, and it's partly because of the highly skilled, effortless performances, great direction, and a wonderful story. It changes direction unexpectedly, but it perfectly paced.

The sense of corrupt system in which only the manipulative can survive is perfectly communicated, and little touches like the supporting performance and sub plot with the Marissa Tomei's journalist character, underscore the sense of younger, innocent people being chewed up and spat out by older, more cynical souls. Or worse, becoming like them, and trading their innocence for advancement in the process.

Movie Hack Rating 4/5.

Buy Ides Of March on DVD USA

Buy Ides Of March on Blu Ray in USA

Buy Ides Of March on DVD in the UK

Buy Ides Of March on Blu Ray in UK

Friday, 20 April 2012

Review: Cabin In The Woods

Movies often arouse a variety of emotions in people, as is their intention, but fury is an unusual response. 

But that's exactly what I felt this afternoon when I spent £8.80 of my own hard earned money to watch Cabin In The Woods, the Joss Wheldon produced/written horrommedy (Geddit?), which was hotly hyped by the wonderful Christy Lemire and her cohorts on What The Flick. I respect the collective opinions of Messrs Matt Atchity and Alonso Duralde, and Mme Lemire so much that I went to see the movie on their recommendation. Oh my how you let me down guys!

The attractive and capable cast is not the problem. Innocent heroine Dana (Kristen Connolly, pictured, right) is the lead protagonist of the movie, and joined this journey into wild woodlands by Thor, or Chris Helmsworth (pictured, left), who can be seen camping it up elsewhere in the current Avengers movie, and who plays an all American jock/ part time sociologist (this is supposed to connote emotional depth apparently). Meanwhile Anna Hutchinson plays The Slut, Fran Kranz* the fool/ stoner, and male model Jesse Williams plays against type as the scholar. 

If these seem like unfair tropes, the standard fayre of horror movies, this is because Cabin In The Woods intends it to be so. It's very much a post modern deconstruction of the horror movie genre, begun by precursors like Scream, a decade ago, when viewers began searching for more cerebral horror as the thrills of the overly familiar genre were perceived to have run dry. 

CITW ups the ante in its self-awareness by making inevitable zombie family resurrection and gradual death of the cast the product of an international conspiracy of a murky underground organisation that chooses 5 young people each year to be human sacrifices for some otherworldly beings that hold the planet to randsom.

The perfunctory manner in which the characters were drawn and dichotomy between this and the underground shenanigans of men and women sat at computer monitors and banks of dials and switches making it all happen made me furious. 

A horror movie should work first and foremost as a movie, and this didn't. A movie must have an emotional heart, and I spent much of the time not caring about anyone on screen once I realised the makers of the movie did not. The Dana character played by Connolly is supposed to service this purpose, but once you realise the authors of this movie are hell bent on unfolding a ridiculous conceit, you cease to care even about her, given the contrived nature of her surroundings.

In conclusion, then, Cabin In The Woods is a movie which is short on horror, heart, and comedy, and this renders its attempt at being cerebral irrelevant.

Movie Hack Rating: 1/5

* The only thing in this movie that doesn't suck.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Ones To Watch 2011: Cowboys And Aliens (TRAILER)

Last seen camping up Ironman 2, director and Swingers money-man Jon Faveau is back with Cowboys And Aliens later this year, where a spaceship arrives in the Wild West, and is faced off by cowboy gunslingers. Yes, it's very much the 'Snakes On A Plane' / Ronseal of its day, and will be out in July in the UK. Aiming for the big summer blockbuster market, see? Oh, and it stars unemployed Bond star Daniel Craig, and Harrison Ford, with Olivia Wilde. Enjoy.