New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

REVIEW: Molly’s Game

By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 12/26/2017

REVIEW: Molly’s Game

“Aren’t you Molly Bloom?” a schoolgirl asks Jessica Chastain’s eponymous entrepreneur in Molly’s Game, the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. That kid is a lot more clued in than I am, as prior to the trailer dropping for Sorkin’s film, I had never heard of Molly Bloom (at least, not this Molly Bloom). Maybe that’s because we have a far more liberal attitude to gambling here in Europe than our puritanical cousins across the pond. Within a two minute walk of where I’m writing this review, there are multiple outlets that will gladly allow me to gamble away my few possessions, but that’s not the case in the US, where having a few friends over for a poker night can land you in jail.

An Olympic class skier whose sporting career was ended with a back injury, Molly Bloom found herself working for an unscrupulous Los Angeles real estate lawyer who roped her into hosting the poker nights he threw for a client list populated by some of the city’s biggest celebs, including an unnamed actor played by Michael Cera who I’m sure isn’t the one we’re all thinking of. When her boss ditches her, Bloom takes the phone numbers of his clients and organizes her own poker nights, with a $50,000 buy-in. Word spreads about her endeavor, and she finds herself playing hostess to some of the world’s richest men (her clientele seems to be exclusively male), and also some of the most dangerous, as various underworld figures look for a piece of her action.

Sorkin is undoubtedly one of the most talented TV writers to ever work in small screen drama, but his film scripts have rarely been as successful, too often over-written and overly reliant on dialogue. Left to his own devices here without a director to reign him in and adapt his writing in cinematic fashion, Sorkin runs amok with his words. I’m struggling to think of a movie that relies on voiceover narration to tell its (relatively simple) story to the extent Molly’s Game does. I could be overestimating, but it felt like 50% of Sorkin’s film was accompanied by narration, much of it completely unnecessary, reiterating the action playing out on screen like it was written with a blind audience in mind. When Chastain isn’t rabbiting on in voiceover, she’s yapping away incessantly.

REVIEW: Molly’s Game

Sorkin tells us an awful lot about Molly Bloom, but never actually shows us who she is. Chastain is in almost every frame of this excessively long film, but I knew as much about Bloom by the movie’s end as I did before it began. Sorkin is interested only in her achievements, and the deepest insight he can conjure is that she has some Daddy issues relating to her demanding father (Kevin Costner, great in his few scenes). This, folks, is why we need more women filmmakers.

As you might expect from a Sorkin scripted film, the highlights of Molly’s Game involve two people talking in a room - specifically the scenes shared between Chastain and Idris Elba as her lawyer, the latter’s accent once again making several return trips across the Atlantic - suggesting this material and Sorkin’s skills are better suited to a theatrical production. When Sorkin has to get down to the process of storytelling, Molly’s Game becomes yet another second-rate Goodfellas ripoff, a series of repetitive anecdotes that aren’t half as interesting as Sorkin seems to believe.



The article continues after this ad

 


Like Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain with biceps swapped out for cleavage, Molly’s Game is a hollow void of a movie, one that dresses up an uninteresting tale with verbal fireworks. Yet I have to admit it never bored me, thanks mainly to the work of Chastain, Costner and Elba, who proves a bad accent can’t ruin a good performance. Sorkin rarely gives them anything of depth to work with - and despite its intemperate dialogue, this is the least quotable Sorkin script ever - but he’s found three actors perfectly suited to his 16 sarcastic lines in 60 seconds style. It’s a shame he couldn’t find a director and an editor willing to kill his darlings. 

3 Stars Out Of 5

Directed by: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Chris O’Dowd





For more by this author, click here






Monmouth Arts Presents Sneak Peek Screening of “Never Look Away”
(RED BANK, NJ) -- See the movie before New York or Los Angeles! Monmouth Arts will provide another installation of its “Film Sneak Peek” series with Never Look Away, an epic tale of art and history spanning three turbulent decades of 20th-century Germany, on November 29 at Bow Tie Cinemas in Red Bank at 7:00pm. 
"The Brighton Bar - Home Of Original Music" Documentary To Be Screened In Long Branch
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- From the 1970s to today the Brighton Bar has been a live music venue and a staple of the New Jersey music scene.  On Wednesday, November 28th at 7:00pm, a free showing of The Brighton Bar - Home Of Original Music  - a documentary about the venue will be screened at The NJ Rep West End Arts Center.
Westfield IFF and James Ward Mansion Host Pop-Up Gin Joint with Movies at the Mansion
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Big Dreams & Silver Screens, the organization responsible for the Westfield International Film Festival, is happy to announce their end-of-year celebration and fundraiser, “Of All the Gin Joints” on December 6 at the James Ward Mansion. The evening is a Casablanca-inspired party that will feature a pop-up gin bar, light bites by Feast Catering, live music by Tony Mowatt, and a screening of Casablanca.  Westfield native, Francesca Rizzo will also be screening a complementary independent noir short film, Sullivan’s Last Call – “a sexy little film about celibacy.”
2018 International Film Festival Brings 4 Award Winning Foreign Films To Vineland
(VINELAND, NJ) -- Enjoy four highly-acclaimed award-winning recent foreign films representing diverse cultures at the 2018 International Film Festival, starting Monday, November 26, at the Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N. High St., Millville, NJ. The four films—A Fantastic Woman, The Interpreter, 1945, and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me—will introduce the theatergoer to the universality of themes that are common to Jewish and other international themes. They are representative of the finest of today’s international cinematographic art.
NJSO presents Star Wars: A New Hope in concert on Thanksgiving weekend
(NEWARK, NJ) --The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents screenings of the complete film Star Wars: A New Hope with Oscar-winning composer John Williams’ musical scores performed live on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23–25. Performances take place in Red Bank, Newark, and New Brunswick.


REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
REVIEW: "Halloween"
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Baba Babee Skazala
Among the many intriguing films being screened at New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018, one title immediately caught our eye — Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother.  
NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  






Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.