The Card Player (aka Il Cartaio): women in Rome are being kidnapped used as the prize in police Vs ‘serial killer’ online poker matches. For a film made in 2004 about ‘cutting edge technology’ it looks more like something from the early 1990s, especially going by the terminology used. The film boasts such a bizarre portrayal of cyber and counter-culture, with a Luddite’s view of technology, and fumbling awkward police IT techies (who are genuinely credited as “Anti Hackers” WTF R-Gent0!?). It also boasts the standard Euro-pudding bilingual issues: gaps between reactions, re-dubbed lines; back of head shots when people are talking… Every character is also over-worked to the point of becoming surreal: like a drunk Irishman who falls asleep singing Danny Boy (classic) and an inappropriate & unprofessionally touchy-feely flirty cop. It feels like Argento plays this far too broad, as the film awkwardly cuts from wacky things like a tapdancing coroner to a dead body with playing cards stuffed up their innards, and extremely detailed close-ups of rancid corpses. The Card Player offers up a few glimpses of classic Argento but overall, it’s a hammy, pedestrian, and tedious Giallo outing.
The Fighter: Hollywood biopic about two half-brother boxers as they each try to make it to the professional level. You can’t mention The Fighter without focusing on the Award-busting cast: Wahlberg’s humble performance is somewhat overlooked with all the ‘big acting’ around him, but he’s at the very top of his game here; Bale and Leo trump the ‘crazy good’ pile with larger than life characters; and if you need a respectable actress that gets down to her knickers there can only be… Amy Adams, duh! It’s technically sweet, the sound is great for a boxing movie and the TV effects on the 1990s fights make it more believable and documentary-esque. What gets you most is the story, and the fact that it’s real; there’s more drama outside the ring and with a cast of explosive, rounded, characters like this my only complaint is that, if anything, there are too many of them – biggest family ever! Because of the territory, there’s definitely an element of running through the sports movie checklist, (“right, that box is ticked, next!”) after every fight, argument or pivotal scene. Although it tugs at the heart-strings with shameless precision through the family story, and despite being over-dramatic at times, The Fighter totally did it for me. Cracking sport’s / boxing film.