For all aspiring amateur and professional poker players, an array of resources are available to help improve your skills. While psychological warfare is fun when playing this game of wit, craft, and strategy, movies on poker can also be a great teaching tool for amateur poker players. From inspiring tales to valuable gameplay lessons, we’ve compiled a list of must-watch flicks that will encourage you to become a masterful player.
Film lovers everywhere eagerly anticipated the release of “Poker Face,” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival and came to US theaters last November 16. Despite Crowe not being as famous in box office numbers, his devoted fans have ensured that this low-budget film has received much attention.
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Russel Crowe’s Poker Face
In Poker Face, Russell Crowe’s second directorial feature follows the story of a wealthy individual who has invited his friends to an evening of high-stakes poker. However, he needs to prepare for what lies ahead. While Crowe impresses as the deeply troubled billionaire, unfortunately, this cannot compensate for its outdated narrative and lackluster plot twists. Viewers can appreciate some aspects of the movie, such as Crowe’s performance; overall, it must live up to its potential due to a lackluster screenplay.
Jake (Crowe) strikes tech gold with his groundbreaking poker set software. On the surface, it appears to be a typical program featuring tutorials on poker rules and tournaments. However, its true purpose is much more than meets the eye: an effective surveillance system.
Governments swiftly take notice of this technology’s capabilities and seize their chance to utilize it for spying on citizens. Jake has had plenty of experience gambling; he views the poker table as a metaphor for life.
After receiving shocking news from his doctor, Jake resolves to throw a lavish celebration for all the people closest to him- including Mikey (Liam Hemsworth), an alcoholic, and Drew (RZA), Jake’s reliable business partner.
Unbeknownst to either Jake or his guests, however, is that a band of robbers is devising ways they could burgle several of Jake’s paintings. At the same time, everyone is distracted with enjoying themselves.
Russell Crowe delved into unknown waters with his second feature film, The Water Diviner– a melding of heist and bromance genres. Our distressed protagonist Jake narrates the saga through an extended voiceover that attempts to convey greater depth than we witness on screen.
Although there are some noteworthy aspects in plot composition, character creation, performance, and directing – all too often, it is simply not intriguing enough to appreciate over 120 minutes of viewing time. We get glimpses at real-life Crowe (including facial hair!), but sadly even giant grizzlies can be dull when presented with no stimulating action or dialogue!
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Jake’s friends are characterized with minimal detail, each harboring dark secrets that will influence Jake directly. His acquaintances seem to lack life–the politician is self-centered, the philanderer immoral, and the drunk aimless.
This reunion of estranged old pals isn’t particularly enthralling. When his ulterior motive for bringing them together at his manor ought to be more significant than initially thought, it fails to get a heightened sense of tension or urgency.
Crowe’s contribution to the screenplay presents a new level of complexity when Victor (Paul Tassone) and his criminal crew burst into the equation. This unexpected twist could refresh the movie, forcing these friends to unite to survive. Crowe needs to improve at creating suspenseful scenes; as a result, the finale needs more impact.
Through the movie, viewers are invited to follow Jake on his journey of understanding that material wealth cannot fulfill all aspects of life. Despite amassing an impressive fortune and having a wonderful daughter in Molly Grace, Jake still feels something beyond money needs to be added to his existence. The film explores this concept throughout its runtime, touching on less pivotal matters.
Jake Crowe’s earnest, honest performance of a man who has surpassed his psychological threshold is simply astonishing. However, one can not help but find the reasoning behind Jake inviting his cohorts to engage in the games with poker chips instead of forced and artificial – this only serves to deepen the viewers’ experience of disquiet brought on by learning about his doctor’s dire prognosis.
Cinematographer Aaron McLisky excelled at making this movie look larger-than-life by shooting with an aerial view of Jake’s compound and featuring beautiful shots of the luxury cars generously donated to those invited over for card night.
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Production designer Hugh Bateup juxtaposes the cold and sterile apartment in Sydney that Jake resides in with his more inviting remote getaway. The contrast reveals a deep-seated desire for Jake to return to an earlier time when he was carefree. The flashbacks at the start of Poker Face display his and his friends’ innocent, joyous days before they were exposed to danger.
As Jake’s secret medical condition is revealed, the audience experiences an unintended emotional impact. Although Crowe had desired to be a tear-jerker for this moment, its power was unfortunately minimized due to every other incident before.
Despite this, Poker Face transforms into a narrative about being thankful for what one has–ironically ironic since the suspense in this thriller isn’t potent enough to captivate viewers entirely and fully engage them with emotion.
Poker in Movies
Russell Crowe’s latest cinematic offering, “Poker Face,” uses poker as a tool to explore more profound themes. While it may not be the most impressive poker movie of all time, it provides an interesting perspective on the game. Regarding how Americans perceive and understand this beloved card game, movies have likely had a much more significant impact than any other form of popular culture.
It is worth noting that, despite the fact movies make poker look thrilling and enjoyable to watch, it only appears somewhat realistic to experienced players. In 2017 a Washington Post article about the top 25 “profession-based movies” – evaluated by experts in each industry – entirely omitted any poker-related titles.
It is uncertain why poker players have been excluded from the list of professions, especially since chess players and even bank robbers are included. Perhaps this could be attributed to a need for more realistic depictions of poker in movies; moreover, it raises doubts as to whether or not being a professional poker player should be respected as an official profession.
A Final Word on Poker in Movies
All in all, poker is the perfect way to make a movie exciting and create drama. Every scene that portrays a wild poker game helps viewers understand why poker has maintained its position as a powerful tool for storytelling.
Russel Crowe’s poker face was no exception and achieved its purpose of providing excellent cinematic entertainment for everyone. Not only did it give us an insight into the world of poker, but it also reminded us how powerful a gambling game could be regarding its narrative potential.
Moreover, this movie is undoubtedly inspiring more film directors to explore the world of one-on-one card games that become highly emotional events that leave us at the edge of our seats!