when I sip a drink of whiskey. Addiction is scary, and you need to hold onto the thought of that when you are performing activities that could slide you down the clichéd “slippery slope”.
Don’t mistake me; I’m not up on a soap box telling people not to do those things. All vices can be fun in small doses, as long as they do not affect our lives and our relationships. I’m not talking about being a functioning addict; I’m simply talking about knowing when to say that you’ve lost the hand and you’re not going to bet anymore of your money tonight.
Ah. With that, onto the flick (and I’m already half a Microsoft Word page in!).
Mississippi Grind is first and foremost about gambling (as the title allows you to see). The title itself is reminiscent of other films that have focused on gambling (see California Split, The Cincinnati Kid, etc.). And rarely have I watched a movie where I truly felt that spark as well. From the opening scene where Gerry meets Curtis, you see what is driving them to the table or to the track: it’s fun to win, and sometimes, it’s fun to lose. To capture the allure of something like this is a testament to good film, and the tactics that the film uses to capture this are different than most.
First, the film is not hurried. For some in the audience, this may lead to boredom; however, I found myself being sucked into the story more and caring about the characters more. We are allowed to see different scenery shots of St. Louis, of Memphis, of Little Rock. That’s an amazing testament to the unhurried style of the movie when you consider that in most of these shots there are no actors; they are essentially still photos being placed one after the other in order to place the characters into the dingy, grimy portions of the Midwest. They don’t just show the Arch in St. Louis, or Grand Avenue with its Fabulous Fox theatre, they show some of the smaller areas as well. This allows you to forget you’re watching a movie, and the two lead actors further bring you into the story.
I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen actor Ben Mendelsohn in anything else. He owns this movie as Gerry, a divorced real-estate agent living with his cat, and it is obvious that Gerry has a gambling issue. He plays this role wonderfully, allowing you to slowly find nuances of his character traits and background. Brilliantly playing is foil is Ryan Reynolds, again showing that he can accomplish so much more than just Hollywood Rom Com status. This first scene between the two takes place at a grungy poker table in Iowa. Reynolds sits down and immediately breathes life into the place, and Gerry is of course hesitant at first. However, they sink into a comradery before eventually joining together to go on a trip down the Mississippi and gamble their way into a high stakes poker game. The movie never quite shows you where it is going, most like a game of Texas Hold’Em: with each turn or river card, the game can completely change. This happens throughout with their relationship as well, showing that true friendship between men is often a mix of love, rivalry, jealousy, anger, and fun moments.
First off, I’m not really spoiling anything talking about the fact that one of the main characters, Milly (played by Toni Collette) gets cancer. It’s spelled out in the title, and spoken about in the main title sequence/opener. Therefore, I shouldn’t have to warn you that this is a tear-jerker (I wasn’t moved to that point, but it is sad). Jess (Drew Barrymore) also has trouble conceiving. This is a movie that is made by women for women, and at times, I felt like I should have seen my way out.
That’s because, first and foremost, this is a movie about friendship. It goes into the way that friendships form (in this case, a rescue from bullying) and how they survive and thrive in different storms of life. They even tackle the most extreme form you can imagine, someone’s impending death. The movie is easily at its best when it gets away from the distracting humor and focuses on these themes. Instead, we get this ship-on-the-waves feel to the film, as it swings back and forth between trying to hit it over the fence with laughs (rarely accomplishing) and being a down-to-earth movie.
That’s truly a shame, because Toni Collette is really good. Anytime you watch someone portraying a dying person it’s hard not to think of award-winning performances, but hers is very, very good. She perfectly illustrates the emotional spectrum that you would exhibit when dying – she is at times terrified, happy, angry, sad, and carefree. This is at its most evident during the scene with the travel to the moors. In that twenty minutes, between the travel and the hotel room and the next morning, you see Milly finally begin to accept things for what they are. It’s a shame the rest of the movie felt so forced around her performance.
The one thing that I will say is that it allows some of the other actors a chance to do some good as well. The two men, as the husbands of the two wives, show what it would be like to be mixed up in this mess. You would want to be supportive, sure, but you also need attention. That’s a difficult thing to portray, and both actors knock it out of the park. (Dominic Cooper – old Tony Stark I believe) (and Paddy Considine who I haven’t seen in much else).
Overall, the movies a mess of tones and themes, and it’s not really a good time to spend nearly two hours wading through a movie about death. However, if you can see through the murk of the moors, you’ll see some good performances shining through. I’m going to give Miss you Already a “C”.
Check out more on this movie at IMDB.
Money Monster opens with a financial advice show called Money Monster. The show’s host is Lee Gates, played by George Clooney in terrifically charming/smarming form. His producer is Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), and all just seems like it’s going to be another day at the office. Patty is sick of Lee, Lee seems to be on top of his world and doesn’t care about anyone else’s. That is until a young man named Kyle (played by Jack O’Connell) holds Lee and the station up at gun point and straps a bomb to Lee’s chest for giving him advice that lost him nearly 60,000 dollars.
intimately embracing others. The two stars, Roberts and Clooney, shine here, allowing their characters to grow and envelop the roles they are given.
This movie actually reminded me of director Jodie Foster’s last directorial effort, the excellent The Beaver, because it is a comedy that is much darker than you would expect. With some movies that would be a bad thing, but this one delightfully subverts genre trends and allows the story to be told. My main complaint about this movie is that the eventual investigation goes too quickly; instead of being allowed to flourish, we find out too much too quickly (aka, hackers are just a convenient plot pusher). But that’s not to say that the movie would have been better with that suggestion, indeed, it
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"