Taking a Chance on Molly’s Game

One thing that shifted for me, even if only by a little, was the amount of movie-going that I did in 2017.  Over the last few years, my interest in less commercial fare as ebbed and flowed.  Last year I didn’t even make a point of seeing a majority of the best picture nominees (whereas there have been some years where I had seen a majority even before any list was released).  That’s been especially true for the last couple of months.

Until Tuesday.  I knew that I had limited time with a pending return to school and a handful of prior commitments to take care of before the first bell rang.  So I had one shot: repeat viewing of Thor?  Downsizing?  What was that new comedy about the board-game-turned-video-game?  Thanks to the in-flight magazine on Monday’s plan, though, I remembered that Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, had just been released. I have, of course, over time become a big fan of particular directors and show-runners.  That’s also true of script-writers, of which Sorkin is the cream of the crop for the verbal crowd.  So not having even seen a trailer, I made my way to the theater for an early show . . . and I was blown away.

Jessica Chastain has been something off an off-the-radar actress for me.  When pushed to tell someone what movies she had been in, I could only name Interstellar (though she anchored Zero Dark Thirty, which I did not see).  Idris Elba, on the other hand, had just experienced a major flop in this summer’s The Dark Tower (which is so unfortunate).  Both actors bring Sorkin’s script to life, making it sing at its best moments.  Beyond that, Sorkin weaves a few different threads together very well, threads that cover different moments in Bloom’s life.

The movie isn’t necessarily an easy one to watch.  The stepping around the edges of any moral grey areas becomes a dance and tightrope.  But Chastain anchors it astoundingly.  We learn just enough about Elba’s lawyer-character to understand and respect him, but he still finds a way to soar without necessarily revealing deep roots (in fact most of those roots seem provided to serve as a mirror of Bloom’s own father).  And things get worse for Bloom much more often than they get better.

It’s nice, really, to go into a movie with limited knowledge of its subject (and even it’s cast, as I had no idea that Michael Cera had any part to play in the proceedings until he appeared onscreen).  Beyond that, it’s nice going into a movie knowing that the words matter.  Not so much that they are big or small, fancy or simple, words, but that they are words strung together in such a away that the whole movie, even in its quiet moments, sings.

Here’s the first trailer for the movie.  It doesn’t give too much away, definitely not as much as the later trailers.

One other thing: seeing “Quo Vadimus” across the back wall of a bar early in the movie was quite exciting, much like hearing the phrase “Doomsday Clock” being dropped nonchalantly in Justice League.  Even outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, things connect.

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