Originally in Spanish, Intacto (“Intact” in English) is a ‘magical realism’ thriller first released in Spain in 2001 before making its way onto international movie screens in 2002. Director and co-writer, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo chooses a top-class Spanish cast to play the roles of participants in games of pure, nerve-wracking chance. The bizarre, underground scene is designed so those with more luck end up accruing more luck, in a tale of how “luck” can be used as a type of commodity.
Max von Sydow plays casino owner Samuel Berg who, following an argument, revokes his employee Federico’s ability to steal luck just by touching people. Unlike today, when you could go online to find similar casino sites where the luckiest players hang out, Frederico embarks on a dangerous mission to find the luckiest man on Earth and regain his powers. Intacto received several great reviews and as much as it sounds a bit weird and “out there”, Fresnadillo found a way to hit a home run with this one.
Croupier was disqualified from the Academy Awards following its appearance on Dutch television, but it did not stop the film from being a sensational gambling movie hit. Clive Owen stars as Jack Manfred, a writer with no dreams or ambition and whose life is a dead-end street before his father organizes him an interview for a position as a croupier. It is safe to say that his life spins out of control from about this point on.
He drinks excessively while being engulfed by the casino world. His relationship with his girlfriend begins to crash and burn while he sleeps with other women and things get really serious when he eventually ends up becoming part of a casino robbery, while at the same time, trying not to be involved. The plot takes a crazy turn in the end when his father reveals a shocking twist.
Based on real events, this box office success reached number one in the US and Canada in its first two weeks, despite the movie’s cast receiving mixed reviews. Ben, a mathematics major, gets accepted into Harvard University and applies for a scholarship but the fierce competition sets off a rollercoaster of events that keep you captivated throughout. The movie is a prime example of when emotions ruin an otherwise well-implemented business plan.
Struggling to afford his tuition fees, Ben decides to joins the local MIT Blackjack Team.
The team is made up of carefully selected players whose captain uses them to try to beat casinos through a mix of non-verbal signaling and exceptionally brilliant card-countins skills. Together they win big but jealousy soon causes drunken fights and Ben gets emotionally distracted, causing the team a great loss.
The Hustler (1961)
This 1961 modern classic film portrays one player’s enthusiasm for the game of pool, as he travels across the world facing challenges, love, and what could be considered “dangers” when there is too much at stake. A hustler by the name of “Fast Eddy” Fellon throws himself into the world of amateur pool, fuelled by his desire to make it into the big league.
The movie was such a hit that the Library of Congress dubbed The Hustler as “culturally, historic, or aesthetically significant” and was to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 1997. It was later preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2003. Shot in New York, it stars race car driver, actor, and film director, Paul Newman as “Eddie” who makes new and obscure friendships in the pool halls, leading to threats and serious life decisions.
Mississippi Grind (2015)
After a drunken night at a casino in Iowa, a friendship develops between two men with serious gambling problems. From that moment out the movie is a whirlwind of blood boiling, nerve-racking events that sometimes lead to great financial gain …and other times, great loss. It is the typical, big money, fast lifestyles, prostitute cliche of gambling movies but better than you can imagine if you have not yet seen it.
The actors share intense chemistry as they rely on each other for support while never admitting to ever needing each other. The last scene of the movie brings it all together perfectly as Gerry, played by Ben Mendelsohn, leaves it all behind and heads back to re-purchase his pawned car. He co-stars opposite Ryan Reynolds who plays the role of Curtis Vaughn, a man with a severe problem with money.