Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Card Counter

Director – Paul Schrader – 2021 – US – Cert. 15 – 112m

**1/2

Tormented by internal demons relating to his activities in Abu Ghraib, for which he’s served a prison sentence, a card player bides his time on the professional gambling circuit – out in cinemas on Friday, November 5th

I’m an enormous admirer of Paul Schrader as critic, screenwriter and director. I could go through the component parts of this film and extol the virtues of most of them. And yet, somehow, adding all these elements together the end result here is less than satisfying. I left the preview theatre in shock trying to understand what had gone wrong. Was it the film or was it me?

You could have guessed it was Schrader directing one of his own screenplays from the opening shots. In American Gigolo (1980), it’s various angles on the gigolo’s car. In First Reformed (2017) , it’s various angles on the pastor’s church building. Here, it’s various angles on the card counter’s cards spread out on the green beige surface of a playing table.

Self-styled William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is travelling round the US making money from card games having taught himself to read cards whilst in military prison (the USDB in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – it’s namechecked but not explained in the film and I had to look it up).… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Wizard of Oz 3D

Director – Victor Fleming – 2014 (1939) – US – Cert. U (A) – 102m

****

UK release April 8th, 2014.

A Hollywood classic gets the restoration / 3D treatment. On the big screen, the effect is something like seeing a stage production in places populated with hordes of extras as the spectacular studio sets are revealed in all their glory as never before. After three quarters of a century, the pre-computer twister effects stand up well too.

Alongside Judy Garland’s girl next door Dorothy, other equally memorable archetypes include three Kansas workmen who become her travelling companions (lion, tin man, scarecrow) on the Yellow Brick Road and Dorothy’s protector and adversary in the form of Glinda the Good Witch and the terrifying Wicked Witch Of The West.

This 3D restoration is as good as you’ll ever see the film, which still packs a punch today.

Reviewed for Film Review Annual 2014-15.