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If you can't spot the sucker, you are the sucker!
Member Name: Jojoborne
Date: 10/09/12, updated on 10/09/12 (42 review reads)
Advantages: Great acting. Good storyline.
Disadvantages: None for me
Rounders Film and DVD review
Another movie review and another Edward Norton review. For the purpose of this review I will be reviewing the special edition version of the DVD.
Rounders is about the game of high stakes poker and absolutely love this film. It was released in 1998 and it stars Ed Norton as mentioned, Matt Damon in the lead role, John Malkovich and John Turturro. If that isn't enough to whet your appetite, then nothing is.
Matt Damon plays Mike McDermott who thinks he can live amongst the big boys in the poker world. Well, he knows he can but poker is about so many things; nerves, confidence, guile, bravery and above all luck. After losing everything in the hope that he can raise enough to go to Vegas to the Poker World Championships he decides to quit. An old friend comes back on the scene from prison and draws Mike back in to the poker world. Lester 'Worm' Murphy, played by Edward Norton is a shady character that lays everything on the table, which often lands him in trouble. Worm gets involved in a high stakes game with Teddy KGB, brilliantly played by John Malkovich, a Russian with connections high up in the Russian mafia. He's a man that you wouldn't want to mess with. Mike has got himself back together, given up cards and has the blessing of his girlfriend to make their life perfect by getting a job as a lawyer and starting a family together. Then Worm comes along and everything spirals out of control in a way you would never imagine. Mike stands to lose everything and what follows is a man teetering on the edge and gambling not only with the cards but with his life and the lives of those around him.
Matt Damon plays the part of Mike McDermott fantastically and I think it is one of his best roles in film. He has that vulnerability and that face that you want to believe in. His character makes some stupid decisions in the film but he is essentially a good guy who gets dragged into something against his wishes or so it seems at first. Poker is in his blood and he may be able to stop for a while but he will always go back to it. It will either make him or break him.
Ed Norton is absolutely brilliant as Worm. He makes you cringe, he makes you laugh, he makes you love him and he makes you hate him. It's another accomplished performance and the way he and Damon play off each other is superb. When you first see this movie you find yourself wanting to shout at the screen in frustration at Worm. One minute you feel like slapping him and the next you feel like hugging him.
John Malkovich is excellent as Teddy KGB. He has a really lilted Russian accent which works really well. His character has a penchant for Oreo cookies and he is forever splitting them and eating each half while at the poker table. He does actually seem like a teddy bear but you can feel the icy steel underneath and he does make your skin crawl on occasion.
John Turturro plays Joey Knish. He is probably Mike's only true friend and although it's only a bit part role really he shines in it. He is one of those actors who can play a fit in role to perfection; he has that quiet aura about him and is another actor who you emphasize with without him ever having to stretch himself.
There is also a small role for Martin Landau who plays Abe Petrovsky, Mike's mentor and teacher, where he is a professor at law school.
The film is directed by John Dahl who is a great TV director and has worked on some of my favourite shows, including 'Dexter', 'True Blood' and 'Homeland'. He also worked on the US remake of one of my favourite UK TV shows 'Shameless'. The direction on the movie is faultless but you can tell by the many fade to blacks that he is a TV director. Some of the scene sets, lighting and ambience in the film are really well shot and it creates a great backdrop to the story. The film is shot on location in Atlantic city in New Jersey.
You learn a whole lot about poker in this film and the fundamentals behind the game, including what it takes to have the metal to risk everything or win nothing. The movie is a lot more than that though and there is of course a very strong moral attached to it and message about human nature, its frailties and its strengths. It is also a story of friendships and relationships and the way that they can change in such a short time when wrong decisions are made.
I have seen this film on numerous occasions and I always find something new or different in some of the conversations each time. I daresay I will watch it again in the future.
It has a fifteen certificate and is one hundred and sixteen minutes long. The special features on the bonus DVD contain 'Set Top Games', which teach you how to play 'Poker' and 'Texas Hold Em'. There are also interviews with real poker champions and tips from some of the best players. It surprisingly doesn't contain that much for a special edition and is more of a poker edition than a film special edition.
I would definitely recommend this movie to someone who hasn't seen it. It is full of brilliant acting performances from some of the finest actors in film today and definitely keeps you interested. The card scenes are exciting and keep you on the edge of your seat and are very realistic and are a perfect play off the dialogue scenes.
Summary: A rollercoaster ride of ups and downs...it's all in the cards!