Oscar Isaac-Led The Card Counter Rounds Out Its Cast

The upcoming casino revenge film The Card Counter, which is set to star Oscar Isaac and directed by Paul Schrader, has added three big names to its cast. According to Deadline, the thriller has added Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, and Willem Dafoe to the principal cast.

The film stars Isaac as the titular card counter who is tasked by Sheridan’s character to seek revenge on a military man, played by Dafoe. Haddish will play a gambling financier who backs the two men.

Let’s break these additions down piece-by-piece, starting with Willem Dafoe. There is no world where the addition of Dafoe is a bad idea. This performer has consistently done great, most predominantly in recent years with award-worthy work in The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate, and especially The Lighthouse. I can’t recall the last time he turned in a performance that hasn’t uplifted the film he’s in, so I got no problems here. Hell, he already worked with Isaac on At Eternity’s Gate so the chemistry is there.

Sheridan is an interesting addition. He’s a pretty subtle performer who has done solid but perhaps forgettable work in Ready Player One and the newer X-Men films, and while his is not a name that comes up in discussions for who should play what character in what film, he’s not a detractor.

Now, let’s get to Haddish. I can’t think of a film with Haddish that has worked since Girls Trip, and I’m getting a little tired of her. She was solid but forgettable in Keanu, and I found her quite funny in Girls Trip, but since that time, I haven’t really found her to be entertaining at all. She’s in a rut similar to Steve Carell’s earlier career where she keeps playing the same character over and over again to diminishing returns. The more I’ve thought about it, I didn’t really like her in The Kitchen, and I really hated Like a Boss from earlier this year, so I’m not feeling this addition to the cast. Hopefully she can surprise me, but I’m not on board with this one yet.

So what do you all think of these casting adds? Is The Card Counter turning into a most-anticipated film for you? Let me know/Drop a comment down below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Hustlers (2019)

Director: Lorene Scafaria

Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo, Cardi B

Screenplay: Lorene Scafaria

110 mins. Rated R for pervasive sexual material, drug content, language and nudity.

 

I recall the surprise that surrounded Hustlers when it turned from a movie that no one really had much faith in to a critic-beloved darling of a film. It was so shocking to find that it wasn’t garbage, and I was suddenly interested in seeing it after thinking it looked it absolute garbage. I did get a chance to actually see the movie, and I was surprised, but how?

The year is 2007, and stripper Destiny (Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians, TV’s Fresh Off the Boat) is working to make money and support her grandmother when she meets Ramona (Jennifer Lopez, Gigli, Second Act), an experienced stripper who seemingly captivates everyone in the audience. The two women form a close friendship and things go well for awhile, until the financial crisis forces them to reevaluate their plans. Destiny is invited to join Ramona and two other women as they hunt down rich men, seduce and drug them, and take their money. This plan is quite successful, but like all stories of crime, this one is headed for an unfortunate ending.

Let me start out by saying that, overall, I think it’s a good movie. I’m not praising it as an Oscar-worthy film by any means, but it’s good. I think director Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, This is Heaven) does the real standout work here. Her film has a style that is quite engaging, taking a story that I feel is a little simple and turning it into something more fascinating. Her screenplay showcases a group of women that become selfish Robin Hoods, robbing the rich and keeping it for themselves until they become the very people who they target. It’s a fascinating story, even if it falls into cliche as it goes on.

The cast, particularly Wu and Lopez, do quite well in showing the radicals of women in their situation, desperation to greed to desperation again. Wu and Lopez have solid chemistry together and they’re both engaging onscreen. The less said about Lizzo (UglyDolls) and Cardi B’s performance, the better though.

Stripping is a talent and skill, and in order for the film to work, the stripping scenes had to be authentic, and it appears that the cast was trained well in translating this skill to the screen with precision. Lopez took this very seriously, even installing a pole at home and visiting strip clubs with her husband to research.

Hustlers is a fun little crime thriller with some front-and-center solid work from Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez and solid direction from Lorene Scafaria. The script is a little lackluster but overall, this is a fun experience that surprised me by being good at all, and I’m fine with good.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[#2020oscardeathrace] Walk Run Cha-Cha (2019)

Director: Laura Nix

Cast: Chipaul Cao, Millie Cao, Maksym Kapitanchuk

Screenplay: Laura Nix

20 mins. Not Rated.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Documentary Short Subject [PENDING]

 

Walk Run Cha-Cha is another Oscar-nominated short doc, this one a bit lighter fair than the others, focused on a couple, Paul and Millie Cao, who suffered in their younger years dealing with the fallout of the Vietnam War, who have now discovered, in their older years, an affinity for dancing.

This short documentary, written and directed by Laura Nix (The Politics of Fur, Inventing Tomorrow), chronicles both Paul and Millie’s background, the journey that brought them together, that brought them to America. It also looks at what brought them to dance, a mutual love they have both found. Initially, the doc, while entertaining and interesting, seems a little simplistic. Why this doc short for the Oscar?

It’s only upon seeing the climax that Nix builds the story to, a choreographed presentation made by this couple that accentuates their craft, their feelings for one another, and their feelings toward the dance. It’s a powerful, moving, and beautifully shot sequence that drives the whole film home in an elegant and memorable way.

Walk Run Cha-Cha does not reinvent the wheel, but it’s a moving and beautiful story that showcases a love that we should all hope to achieve in life. Aided by terrific pacing and an interesting set of subjects, this is a lovely story worth watching.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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