Film Review: Molly’s Game

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Molly's Game Poster

2:07 | Trailer
The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.


Aaron Sorkin


Molly Bloom (book), Aaron Sorkin (screenplay)


MOLLY’S GAME is writer Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut.  Sorkin also adapted the script from the memoir Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom.  Anyone familiar with Sorkin’s work, the most notable being the script for THE SOCIAL NETWORK will surely know that a lot of dialogue is expected and the actors in the film have to be motor-mouthed to be able to speak Sorkin’s dialogue at hundreds of miles per hour.  Lead actors Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba do just that and supporting actor Michael Cera known for his fast speaking does the same.

MOLLY’S GAME is stud poker.  It would be beneficial if one knows the rules of the game in order to appreciate the film.  There are suspense scenes involving being dealt the winning card and if one is unsure whether a full house or a royal flush wins, then one might do better to learn the rules of poker before venturing into a poker film.  Besides the fact, Sorkin has done his homework on high poker stake games around the world and what transpires on screen in extremely credible.  No doubt the memoirs must have have been quite detailed.

There will undoubtedly be those who will complain about the film being too talky.  But this is the niche of watching an Aaron Sorkin film – script or direction.  Sorkin has the gift of words and though the film is talky, he is to be given credit for a fast moving 140 lengthy film.  His attention to detail is an additional bonus.  

Sorkin’s both subtle and over-the-top humour is also present.  This can be observed in the detailed and lengthy 10 minute introduction to the film where the voiceover announces that the Molly’s skiing has nothing to do with her poker.  The film then establishes from scratch how Molly enters the game and finally how she becomes super good at ti before it all crumbles.  Then the biggest joke is that all this is revealed at the film’s end to be caused by skiing after all – to be due to that twig that trips Molly during her final ski jump.

In the story, the FBI presses Molly to reveal the high profile players so that they can be investigated leading to persecution.  Molly sticks to her principles against her lawyers advice.  Yes, this leads to more verbal debate!  Sorkin stays true not to reveal any big names in the film as well.

As in the other Sorkin scripted films, the dialogue goes on so fast that one can understand 20% of its if lucky.  But Sorkin has the gift of making the audience feel as if they have understood everything necessary for the film to go on.  Sokrin’s scripts and MOLLY’S GAME, his first film are strong on his style of writing.  To be fair to him, his story gets through and the film moves fast, at times as fast as the dialogue.  But if one wants to complain about this, stay away from this film.

MOLLY’S GAME premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to mixed critical reviews.  Love it or hate it, but the Sorkin dialogue film has its pleasures.


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Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

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the_huntsman_winters_war.jpgTHE HUNTSMAN – WINTER’S WAR (USA 2016) **
Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt

Review by Gilbert Seah

The prequel to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is a film that is written for no reason but as an excuse to milk the box-office for more money in the fairy tale blockbuster special effects genre. The plot involves the sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) of the Evil Queen, Ravenna (Charleze Theron) that was the enemy of Snow White, becoming queen and training kidnapped children to be her army so that she can conquer more lands. Her Kingdom has only one rule – no love is allowed.
Love inevitably blossoms between two children that grow up to become Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain. Eric and Sara marry in their own way. The Ice Queen Freya separates them. Eric embarks on a quest to find the magic mirror (that mirror, mirror on the wall who can tell the fairest of them all mirror) in order to save Snow White’s Kingdom. The clumsy story goes on with the quest looking similar to Frodo’s in LORD OF THE RINGS, complete with 4 dwarfs as well.

The dwarfs do enliven the sorry plot. But nothing really keeps one really engaged despite the glossy production, Snow white is noticeably missing in this prequel to Snow White. Her name is only mentioned and that she had been usurped the throne from the Evil Queen. But Snow White was nevertheless unmemorable in the first film and I would bet many would even have forgotten who played that role (Kristen Stewart), so leaving her character out might have been a good decision.

The prequel instead adds Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt, two hot actresses of today. The former plays the huntsman’s love interest while the other, the evil queen sister, the ice queen (similar to FROZEN), which the audience can foresee will end up with a battle of the siblings. This does happen at the film’s climax.

Theron continues the bitchiness with royal effect while Blunt has to settle with a milder villainous performance. Hemswoth does what he is paid to do – look his best and that he undoubtedly does well. Sloppiness shows in the filmmaking when the actors speak with different accents – English, Irish and American.

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan who was on the special effects team in the first film takes over the director’s reigns in this one. Colleen Atwood who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design returns to do the elaborate costumes. No doubt the gowns of the two queens are nothing short of stunning with gold, icy white and feathers while the huntsman dons metal and silver. Whenever on queen appears, it seems like a fashion show is about to commence. But these costumes are not sufficient to make the film.

The climatic fight scene is a battle in which all the heroes and villains (male and female) come together in a special visual effects extravaganza that is more a show of lights and magic than action and suspense. It is inevitable who wins here, so no surprises here at all.

The film ends with the narrator saying that while fairy tales come true, none truly ends, promising an unwelcome sequel to this mess. If that is not enough, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is already in the process of a reboot for HIGHLANDER.


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