Uncle Bardie’s Movie Spotlight: Framed

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Molly’s Game” (2017):

This is the opening of “Molly’s Game”. I gotta tell you I saw this and I was in for the count. There was no way I was going to quit this movie. A movie that was written and directed by the great screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

As much as I hated Sorkin’s “Steve Jobs”, that’s how much I love his “Molly’s Game”. With “Molly’s Game”, he’s on top with this one. With this screenplay, he shows what screenwriting is all about when it’s in the hands of a master. This one is so good I think screenwriters will be using it as a model for years to come. I can’t think of where there’s a hole in it and I’ve looked. In the first five minutes, which you saw above, I realized I was in for a great ride. This is one masterpiece of an opening.

Based on a true story, Molly Bloom goes from an Olympic skier to running poker games. With one fall, her ski career is done for. Not sure what to do next she makes for L.A. To get by till she can clear her head, she moves in with an athlete friend and gets a job as a waitress in one of the clubs.

One of her customers sizes her up as an above average possibility as an employee. He hires her as an administrative assistant. One thing leads to another and she’s running her boss’ poker game.

Molly dives in head first into the devil’s playground and just about drowns. Molly is smart and good at details. So soon she is out on her own. She’s running high class  poker games for the rich and the famous, men who have so much cash they can lose a million bucks without batting an eye.

Molly is an innocent in this world, a trusting soul, and so loyal to her customers that causes her to lose her game. She runs off to New York and puts her entrepreneurial skills to work, setting up a new game.

Despite how she is treated, she always keeps her dignity and never betrays people who’d betray her at a toss of a coin. And that’s what happens. She runs an honest game but she’s in a trade where honesty is a weakness.

And for Molly, Sorkin has cast the wonderful Jessica Chastain. As always, her performance is spot-on. The adult Molly is in almost all the scenes. The exceptions are when younger Molly appears. Like Sigourney Weaver in “Alien”, like Emma Thompson in “Wit”, she carries the movie on her back and delivers a powerful performance.

After seeing her in a number of movies, she reminds me of Katherine Hepburn. I would love to see her round her resume off with a comedy or two. For my money, I think she will be around for a long tine and give us many more performances to look forward to.

Supporting Jessica are Kevin Costner as Molly’s father and Idries Elba as her lawyer. Both do terrific performances.

“Molly’s Game” is one roller coaster of a film thanks to Aaron Sorkin. So jump on and ride.


Larry Plays Another Hand

Okay, three kings. Larry lost with three kings, no less. Damn his luck. Two hundred and fifty thousand bucks on the table, and he lost. He lost the car. He lost the house. He lost his retirement. On a sure thing too. Who would have guessed the guy across from him had a full house?

Some guys have a smoking problem. Some have a drinking problem. Some have a sex problem. Larry had a losing problem. He could not not lose. Beth kept telling him so, and rubbing it in too.

It wasn’t as if she hadn’t warned him. She had. She was going to leave him if he didn’t stop being a loser. Here he was the biggest, and I mean the biggest, loser of all time. Maybe not the biggest but he sure felt that way.

He tossed the keys to his car over to the winner. “I’ll get you the title to the house and the car.”

“And the cash as well.” The guy looked like he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Larry went to get up. The guy stopped him. He looked over and said, “Look. I’ll give you one more chance. We draw cards. Highest card wins.”

“But I don’t have anything to bet with.”

“Oh yes, you do. Your wife. One night with your wife.” The guy was serious. There wasn’t a smile on his face or any other kind of thing that made Larry think he was kidding.

Larry thought about it. Beth would kill him either way when she found out.

The guy sweetened the pot. “If you win, your wife will never know. It will never leave this room. So what have you got to lose?”

Larry choked, then agreed.

The guy called for a new deck. He passed it over to Larry. “You shuffle.”

Larry unwrapped the pack of cards, pulled the cards out of the box and shuffled. He cut the cards and shuffled again and again. For what seemed like an hour, he shuffled. It was only ninety seconds. He passed the cards over. The guy cut the cards, then passed them back to Larry. Larry spread the cards in a fan out on the table. “You first,” he said to the guy.

The guy drew and turned over his card. It was a king of hearts. A king of hearts, of all things. He was about to lose his wife to a king of hearts. It was just evil.

Larry’s hand trembled. He reached over and pulled the last card. He hesitated, said a prayer, then turned it over. Before him lay an ace of spades.

It had been a long night. He might not leave with anything but he had gotten his wife, his house, his retirement and his car back.

He looked over at the guy on the other side of the table. The guy was pushing his chair away from the table.

Then Larry said, “One more hand?”