HPPUB MOVIE REVIEW of Croupier

 

Title:  Croupier

Release Date:  1998

Nationality and Language: UK/France/Germany, English

Running time: 94 Min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:   The Shooting Gallery, TNG, Film Four

Director; Writer: Mike Hodges, wr. Paul Mayersburg

Producer: Jonathan Cavendish

Cast:    Starring Clive Owen, Gina McKee

Technical:

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Review:

 

Movie Review of Croupier

Starring Clive Owen, Gina McKee, directed by Mike Hodges, written by Paul Mayersburg

Shooting Gallery (UK) and TNG (Germany) films; 91 minutes; R; 9.0/10

 

Well, “croupier” sounds like a vocabulary word for a Friday morning high school English test. The French word means, “one behind another on a horse,” so it has come to mean, “an attendant at a gaming table who collects and plays bets  (American Heritage College Dictionary). In other words, a dealer at a casino.  Well, maybe some parents don’t want the kids to know this.

 

Indeed, this little art film is a munchy film noir, that gets you into the life of the wanna-be writer Jack Manfred (Clive Owen).  In his opening scene, he visits his agent, who implores him to write what other people want, action and sex starting on the first page.  He has to prove that he can sell before he’ll be accepted in the “literary” world.  Oh, as a writer myself, do I know that feeling.  Well, he needs a job to keep going, so he continues on with is experience from South Africa, in the gaming business.  Quickly, in a job interview, he is warned about the regimentation of a casino job, particularly the no-fraternization policy that extends outside the workplace.

 

So, is it ethical for him to work on the great British novel essentially about his own life while he’s still working?  What about this business of writing like a Repairman Jack?  One can read in authors’ law books about invasion of privacy and libel, and about how carefully you have to disguise characters should they be identifiable at all.  (This may be an even bigger problem in British law than American; author Kitty Kelly (The Royals, 1997), explaining why her non-fiction book could not be published in Britain, explained, “in Britain, truth is not an absolute defense to libel”!)  Well, he tries to play his job straight (in a supposedly crime-ridden business) but gradually sinks into trouble anyway, taking more risks as he becomes more like “Jake,” the hero of his book.  Finally, there is a shootout at the casino—something that in real life would be an extremely rare event.  Casinos are among the physically safest places to be in (a recent horrible tragedy in Las Vegas notwithstanding).  

 

Finally, his book is published by “anonymous,” and becomes a best seller, with everyone on the London Underground reading it.  That’s probably not so easy (Joe Klein and Primary Colors notwithstanding). In reality, though, many people who write while still working have to use pseudonyms.

 

 

 

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