Entries tagged with “Mark Wahlberg”.


The vice of gambling inspired quite a number of literary and cinematographic works, starting maybe with Dostoevsky’s novel which shares the name with the films that inspired it until the almost masterpiece movie “House of Games” written and directed by . “The Gambler” directed by  is not an adaptation of the great Russian writer’s short novel but rather a remake of a 1974 film that featured in the lead role. There are enough reasons to watch this 2014 version of the story with in the lead role, even if you have seen or not the older film.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2039393

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2039393

 

The film history does not lack heroes (or anti-heroes) who lead a more than honorable life and/or have a respected profession at day, while spending their nights in vices of all sorts. Most of the characters of this kind are women, but there are also men like Jim Bennett, a decent and passionate professor of literature and novel writer who spends his free time in gambling crazily money that he does not have, borrowing from all possible bad guys, ruining the trust of his mother and of his girlfriend. At some point in time the viewers ask themselves whether he is playing a survival or a suicidal game, as he invites trouble and seems immune to the any danger or concern as soon as he walks the door of a gambling place. The response is in the character of gamblers which escapes reason (there are a few lines that I suspect were borrowed from Dostoevsky). His chance to survive depends upon getting rid of the addiction.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

‘s “The Gambler” is written more like an action movie than as a character study. At some point in time the hero borrows money from three different mob groups, and uses the cash to cheat each other in order to try to save his skin. The influence of the gangsters movies of the 70s and 80s is visible, with reverences to  or Sidney Lumet. The atmosphere, the darkness and even the humor are present in the right doses. While the action is quite satisfying the quality of the film derives mostly from the actor work of who succeeds in this film to deliver one of the best roles in his career, with an intense rendition of the combination of the emptiness and despair of the intelligent hero who is aware about the falling spiral path of his life, but has a hard time fighting to prevent it. Supporting roles are played by fine actors like , , and (his last movie!). I liked less the very final which may be a little to conventional cinema relative to the rest of the film, but the overall impression is better than expected.

 

Sometimes telling the idea or describing the synopsis of the film is much clearer than the feeling that we had while viewing it. This is exactly my feeling about Broken City, a political thriller taking place in the days between the New York City mayoral elections (with a prologue and some flashbacks added). The story (a corruption case at the level of the candidates involved in the campaign including the incumbent mayor) and the cast should have provided the premises of a – at least – a good thriller. And yet, the outcome, in my opinion, disappoints.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235522/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235522/

 

The name of the lead hero in the film is Billy Taggart (). He is an ex-cop and the film starts with the episode which cut short his career in the police, a moment when apparently he was easy on the trigger on what seems to be a vigilante killing of a guy everybody hated. Turned into a private investigator he is involved in working for the New York mayor () in the final days of the election campaign. He seems to be a honest type, but involvment with politics is not made for honest people, especially as they have a dept to pay to the politician who supported him in his dark hours. All the story however becomes more complicated as the film develops, and the details (mostly related to real estate fraud) are never clear enough or interesting enough.  The final is also far from convincing, with a final twist that was hard to believe, belonging to the psychology of self sacrifice.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

There are certainly reasons to watch this film I admired the quality of the actors - , , . I wrote actors and not acting, because I do not believe that their roles here are any peak of their acting careers. The principal problem of this film is the story telling, too many threads, none of them too clear, some interrupted suddenly as the relation between the hero and his girlfriend, a character that simply disappears from the story with no much explanation. Broken City ends by being much less that it could have been.

 

There is a strong feeling of deja vu planning on the viewers of We Own the Night (the slogan of the NYPD in the 80s, while fighting for the control of the streets of the Big Apple at night). The story and the characters are pretty much borrowed from similar movies where brothers or childhood friends find themselves on opposed parts of the cops vs. mafia game. The atmosphere and characters are very much similar to other stories about the New York gangs or police academies. The combination of family drama and Mafia intrigue is also a classical theme.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0498399/

 

So the story of the film looks very much like an 80s story. The problem is that it does not only refer to the 80s but it also feels like a film from the 80s. This may have been in part intentional, a decision by director James Gray that I respect, as it provides an air of authenticity to the way the streets, the clubs, the police stations are being brought to life. Some of the acting also fits into the same vision, as Robert Duvall as the head of the policemen dynasty is an actor who comes to us from the 80s, and Mark Wahlberg fits well in the patern, as well as the Israeli Moni Moshonov distributed as a Russian padrone. The out of pattern acts are those of Joaquin Phoenix, a huge actor who hardly can fit in any pattern and of the very sexy Eva Mendes who plays his girlfriend.

 

(video source MoviemanTrailers)

 

Worth seeing? Maybe, if you really are interested in another family drama mixed with gangsters vs. cops intrigues which does not really raise to the level of Scorsese, and if you like films from the 80s. But, wait a moment, if you really like films from the 80s why not renting or looking for one of the real stuff on the cable movie channels?