Tagged: James Toback

The Gambler

Summary: Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a man who has given up on life. He is supposed to be a successful novelist, but successful novels these days only make $17,000 which has pretty much ended that dream for him. Instead he finds himself lecturing about literature to students like up-and-coming tennis star Dexter (Emory Cohen) and star college basketballer Lamar Allen (Anthony Kelley) who would rather send text messages during his classes then listen to what Jim has to say. Then there is also his toxic relationship with his mother, Roberta (Jessica Lange), who has her fortune set up thanks to the recent death of Jim’s grandfather who was one of the wealthiest men in the United States.

His life in ruin Jim decides he wants to feel pain. For him the best way to do that is to deliberately lose money in dodgy backyard casinos and end up owing money to the likes of Mister Lee (Alvin Ing), Neville Baraka (Michael Kenneth Williams) and Frank (John Goodman). These ruthless men will do anything to get there money back and that is the way that Jim likes it.

But now a slight glimmer of hope arrives for Jim. A young aspiring writer named Amy Phillips (Brie Larson), whom he labels a genius, who frequents his class has captured his mind (and maybe his heart). But is he too damaged to ever try and get anywhere with her.

Year: 2015

Australian Cinema Release Date: 5th February, 2015

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Rupert Wyatt

Screenwriter: William Monahan, James Toback (1974 film)

Cast: Andre Braugher (Dean Fuller), Griffin Cleveland (Young Jim), Emory Cohen (Dexter), John Goodman (Frank), Rex Hindrichs (Donovan Cham), Alvin Ing (Mister Lee), Sarunas Jackson (Wilhelm), Anthony Kelley (Lamar Allen), George Kennedy (Ed), Sue Jae Kim (Gambler Ken), Jessica Lange (Roberta), Brie Larson (Amy Phillips), Dominic Lombardozzi (Big Ernie), Leland Orser (Larry Jones), Norman Towns (Brodey), Mark Wahlberg (Jim Bennett), Michael Kenneth Williams (Neville Baraka), Steve Wong (Mr. Mahjong)

Runtime: 111 mins

Classification: MA15+

 

OUR THE GAMBLER REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

With great films like Birdman and American Sniper around at the moment it has been pretty easy to not even notice that The Gambler was about to hit cinemas. That in itself is greatly disappointing because The Gambler is equal to those films in every single way and once again that we are reminded that good character piece cinema is not dead and buried.

Director Rupert Wyatt (probably most noted for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) has taken the respected 1974 film of the same name starring James Caan and turned it into an absolute modern day gem. Wyatt does a sensational job of taking a film that has lengthy dialogue driven scenes, eerie ‘are they real or not’ scenes and turned into a film that captures that same energy as films like Fight Club. To be honest not all will like The Gambler as Wyatt and screenwriter William Monahan do have the audience scratching their heads a lot, but if you can get past that then you’ll certainly love this film.

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about The Gambler is just how much is packed into this film. The story ranges from the dirty world of backdoor casinos and sports corruption through to an in-depth character study of a man who has completely given up on life itself. The story weaves and drifts at a sometimes slow pace, due to the well written lengthy dialogue driven scenes, yet for some reason the audience finds themselves sitting on the edge of their seat in the same way they would if they were watching the latest Hollywood action blockbuster. The mood and eerie feeling of the film are further enhanced with a brilliant soundtrack that is varied as the film itself with a wide range of music ranging from the classic Pulp track Common People to a choir led version of Radiohead’s Creep.

Wyatt also manages to get the best of his cast. It seems no matter what Mark Wahlberg does with his career people love to forget the great films he has made, films like The Departed, Boogie Nights etc and instead focus on the couple of bombs that he has delivered or the fact that he was once Marky Mark. Here though Wahlberg reminds everybody that when he is given the right material to work with he can be an acting force. Wahlberg goes through a major physical transformation here, one that could have in line to play Mick Jagger in The Rolling Stones biopic, and goes so far into the character of Jim Bennett that it is easy to see that Wahlberg has picked up a thing or two about character acting along the way.

Wahlberg really is the star of The Gambler, dominating the screen time but he is well supported by those who he takes along for the ride which include Jessica Lange (playing a very similar character to the one she plays in American Horror Story) and Brie Larson. The only actor who gets any chance of stealing a scene away from Wahlberg is the legendary John Goodman, who looks awfully unhealthy in this film but once again delivers the goods.

The Gambler is the kind of film that is going to be lapped up by people that love a good alternative film. The long scenes and lack of action may scare away some cinema goers but this is a film that is destined to become a cult classic. To be blunt this is one of those films that you watch and then tell all your friends to go and see.

 

Stars(4)

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating: The Gambler (2014) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment The Gambler reviews: You can also read our The Gambler review on The Book The Film The T-Shirt.

Trailer:

Seduced And Abandoned

Summary: Alec Baldwin and filmmaker James Toback are on a mission: to remake Bernardo Bertolucci’s legendary 1972 film Last Tango in Paris by setting it in Iraq in the mid-2000s. Hobnobbing their way around Cannes, the wisecracking duo meet up with a who’s who of the film industry , including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling and Bertolucci himself, as they try to find money, a script and a cast for their impossible idea.

Seduced and Abandoned is the delightful and utterly uncategorisable new pseudo-documentary from veteran director James Toback. A riff on the harsh economics of modern film turned unlikely buddy comedy, it’s a glimpse into the funny film business and a gleeful homage to a lost time when film was made for film’s sake.

Year: 2013

Australian Cinema Release Date: 8th May, 2014

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: James Toback

Screenwriter: James Toback

Cast: Alec Baldwin (himself), Berenice Bejo (herself), Bernardo Bertolucci (himself), James Caan (himself),Neve Campbell (herself), Jessica Chastain (herself), Francis Ford Coppola (himself), Scott Foundas (himself), Ryan Gosling (himself), Charlotte Kirk (herself), Diane Kruger (herself), Todd McCarthy (himself), Roman Polanski (himself), Ben Schneider (himself), Thorsten Schumacher (himself), Martin Scorsese (himself), Jeremy Thomas (himself)

Runtime: 98 mins

Classification: MA15+

OUR SEDUCED AND ABANDONED REVIEWS & RATINGS:

David Griffiths:

Seduced And Abandoned is a hard documentary to explain. Not just for this lowly reviewer but you get a feeling that even the guys responsible for this film may have some trouble trying to pinpoint what the exact focus of this documentary actually is. This reeks as the kind of film that may have sounded like a good idea when a group of friends got together over a few drinks, but sadly when it reaches the big screen it becomes a meandering film that was well deserved of the walk outs it received at the screening I was at.

At the heart of Seduced And Abandoned are film director James Toback (Tyson, When Will I Be Loved) and actor Alec Baldwin (Blue Jasmine, TV’S 30 Rock) who have come up with the idea of remaking the classic Last Tango In Paris but setting it in Bush-era Iraq. It seems the original concept of the documentary was show them travelling to the Cannes Film Festival on a mission to receive backing for the film, but somewhere along the way the film got railroaded and ended up becoming a look at the history of the Film Festival itself and also how the likes of Ryan Gosling, Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese got their starts in Hollywood.

One of the things that makes Seduced And Abandoned such a strange documentary is that seems that Baldwin and Toback really wanted this to be the kind of film that really celebrates cinema. Certainly that seems to be what is happening when they sit down and talk to Polanski, Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci, but during the film it actually begins to show the darkside of the industry – a side where people such as Neve Campbell and Oscar winner  Berenice Bejo find themselves as being described as ‘unmarketable.’

If Toback and Baldwin wanted Seduced And Abandoned to showcase themselves in the realm of a vanity piece then they certainly failed in their mission. Instead Toback comes across as a pushy director who believes that he deserves to be credited alongside the Scorseses and Coppolas of this world while Baldwin seems to be an actor who refuses to acknowledge that he is no longer a Hollywood leading man. At times this comes across as a poorly directed and cheaply edited wank fest, although it is kind of fun to watch as Baldwin gets put in his place by several producers and even an Australian film distributor.

Having said that though there are some highlights during Seduced And Abandoned. Hearing the likes of Ryan Gosling and Diane Kruger talking about what it means to be an actor in Hollywood these days is an interesting piece of cinema, as is hearing some of the legendary directors that we all look up to talking about their careers and what film-making means to them. Those interviews are absolutely priceless for young filmmakers out there.

Seduced And Abandoned ultimately fails at its major goals and is only made watchable by a couple of interviews that touch on some cinematic magic.

Stars(1)

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5): Stars(1)

IMDB Rating:  Seduced and Abandoned (2013) on IMDb

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Seduced And Abandoned′: Nil.

Trailer: