Friday, December 29, 2017

A Few Notes On Molly’s Game


We saw Molly’s Game today. 

A few scattered thoughts.

It tells a well paced story. It’s over 2 hours long but is never boring. Jessica Chastain is strong as Molly. Idris Elba is good as her lawyer. And Kevin Costner may be ok as her father, but her father’s such an asshole I can’t help but visit my intense dislike of him onto Costner’s acting.

For all that’s good in it, I give it a 55. 


My problem with it is my general problem with Aaron Sorkin. 

I keep thinking he’s a precocious show off who’s never grown up, and is nervously anxious to flood us with his rat a tat cleverness. Chastain talks in rapid fire sentences, all grammatically perfect and impressively articulate. And she seems to know everything about everything.  

The trouble is no one, but no one, not even Ben ‘Machine Gun’ Shapiro, talks that way, though he comes closest of any public figure I can think of. And the further trouble is that all that rapid fire patter gets in the way of any real sense of the inner Molly. It’s a Tom Cruise thing, flashily impressive on the outside but on the deep inside not so much. So the talk is showy and glib. It’s verbal fireworks. Sizzle but not enough steak. 

When Molly her has her big dramatic scene with her father, Kevin Costner speaks in this glib, seemingly all-knowing-everything way too, though at a less breakneck speed. 

But the kicker is that it’s an awful scene. 

It’s loaded with an apparently magical 3’ analysis of the sources of Molly’s driven anger delivered by a self-described “high priced” “Dr. Of The Mind.” But that analysis is weighted down by banal and reductive insights that made me want intellectually to vomit they are so saccharine and trite. And to cap that off, at one point before saying what a high priced psychologist he is, Costner praises himself for raising such accomplished kids on a college prof’s salary. That’s what Hollywood calls a “lack of continuity.”

That lack is of a piece with the wretched fake emotion in Costner clutching Molly to him and tearfully swearing to get a guy to get the guy who beats her up and robs  her. If anyone believes this as authentically conveyed emotion I have some non melting ice to sell you. 

So voila within just a few minutes, years of a daughter’s father-hatred are resolved and Costner is now loving her as never before and is redeemed. In truth, this scene brings us no closer to the inner Molly; and it makes a maudlin hash of all that  has gone between them as the movie has it.

Matching Molly’s machine gun paced voiceover narration and speech are her whizzes-by-you-so-fast-you-can’t-take-it-in play by play descriptions of various poker hands. If you’re not a poker player, and I’m not, then you won’t really understand what she’s talking about. What’s the point of it? Why not slow things down just a little to provide some explanation? The rapidity of it all is dazzles us but for the uninitiated the dazzle quickly becomes a haze of incomprehension. And to no point that I can see. 

Mrs. Basman scores it at 70. She thinks I’m being too negative.

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