Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome! Oh, and 21, anyone?

Welcome! You are fortunate enough to be among the first to experience “Movies, Memphis, Madness”—offering a little something for everyone! You are no doubt witnessing history in the making here. No, really. History in the making. Centuries from now, this blog will be reviewed by 26th century literary honchos, historians, archaeologists, maybe a few psychologists, biologists, and even a cryptozoologist or two—and they will know what life in the 21st century was like. They’ll write volumes about me. I’ll be like the “Lucy” of the future (except they won’t have my remains and I would look better than Lucy even if they did).

It could happen.

In the meantime, let’s talk movies. I don’t know whether it was the movies, the Memphis, or the madness that attracted you here, but don’t worry. In the long run, there’ll be plenty of all to go around. And then some.

The movie 21 was recently released in theaters. The trailers promised a lot, drew me in like sirens at the door of the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, our own little Delta version of Vegas (sans the bordellos and the great Ted Binion murder scandals and such). In truth it doesn’t take anything nearly as mythic as sirens to draw me into a casino, just enough gas in the car to get there and enough cash in hand to squander without danger of losing my home, car, appliances, first born child, etc.—you get the idea. So, a movie about mathematically inclined college students counting cards at the blackjack tables in Vegas and taking home lots and lots of said cash held a certain attractiveness for me. I went hoping for both entertainment AND enlightenment.

Entertainment I got. Eye candy makes up the nucleus of said mathematically inclined college students (MIT students at that—oooh, ahhh—smart folk). And who doesn’t like pretty people at the picture show? Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth as the two lead students are also adequate enough in the acting department. The grown-ups in the movie, however, are disappointing. I always try to be understanding when actors the caliber of Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne do light, non-challenging fare—hey, we all need an easy gig to make some quick coin once in a while, right? Maybe for said casinos. Who knows. Nonetheless, it’s painful for my deep artistic higher self to see actors who are capable of SOOOOO much more do this stuff. But, entertaining they are; Oscar bound they aren’t.

Oh, yeah, and let’s not leave out the guy that played the fire chief on Rescue Me who killed himself on the show last season. That would be Jack McGee, who plays a convincing enough aging, semi-tough sidekick to Fishburne’s aging, a bit-more-tough casino “loss control” consultant. This movie could’ve used some of the knock-you-to-your-knees-with-humility-cause-it’s-so-good writing from Rescue Me’s scribes. 21 is mostly predictable and full of clichés. Say, while we’re on the subject, when is Rescue Me coming back, anyway? The recent (totally justified and fully supported by me) Hollywood writers’ strike has my annual TV natural rhythms all effed up. But I digress.

So 21 is an entertaining movie, probably a good date movie since it has something to make the boys and the girls happy. I understand that there is one sex scene, but I missed it when I went to the restroom (damn those gigantic soft drinks). Beyond that, the premise, while seemingly a bit outlandish, is apparently based on some real-life MIT genius types who helped pad their future with casino cash. I had hoped for a little more enlightenment in that respect. From the film, I understand in general their system for “counting” the cards sliding out of the 5-deck shoes that casinos now use (to make it harder for the card counters of the world), but I’m not sure they ever give away the essential portions of the plan. From watching the movie, I could now count like they do, but I don’t think I would know what it means. I think I missed that part—or it was intentionally left out. So . . . if the count is +17, is a high card or a low card more likely to come? Hmmmm. . . . Maybe my gambling IQ is challenged and that’s why I have concerns about losing my belongings to guys with names like Big Jimmy or Guido.

Anyway, tension among the students, and among the students and their mentor, Kevin Spacey’s arrogant MIT professor (Kevin Spacey acting arrogant . . . my, there’s a stretch), and among the students and the loss control guys, and among the arrogant professor and the loss control guys all keep the plot moving. The scenes showing the college students indulging in the (oh so many) excesses Vegas has to offer (from designer boutiques to retro strip clubs—definitionally, anywhere with a disco ball is retro as far as I’m concerned) play like a TV ad designed to lure professional athletes and young celebs into a life of self-indulgent decadence. Okay, I was jealous. Whatever.

21 is fun and easy. On a five-star system (and by the way, I need my own special system—any suggestions?), I would give it 3 stars—not great, not bad, just fun and entertaining. Unlike my life—which is demanding I return to it immediately. Work. humphh. Didn’t the Geneva Conventions say something about work?

If I could just figure out what +17 actually means.

Next time!

1 comment:

starman59 said...

Cindy I enjoyed reading your reviews. I am not running to see either of them but I think the reviews were more entertaining than the films.

I recently saw Married Life and thought it was the mnost entertaining of the year so far. good stor funny and thought provoking good acting and script. I will look forwardto your views in the future.