Joel Stillerman

Joel Stillerman

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Rounders Review


Excellent
Eighty bucks. That's about how much money I've lost playing poker since I saw Rounders. Not that this statistic is an inherently bad sign for the movie or anything. In fact, the fact that I was so motivated by the movie to put all that money on the table speaks positively of the picture.

Rounders (the name is short-hand for people who make their living playing poker) stars Matt Damon and Edward Norton as poker playing buddies going in different directions. Damon, after losing a very big money hand, has given up his cardsharping ways for law school and a career as a lawyer. Norton, on the other hand, just out of prison, is eager to build a new bankroll at the tables. As you might expect, for a number of reasons, Damon cannot stay away from the table forever, and consequently his budding law career and relationship with newcomer Gretchen Mol are both put in peril. The trouble Norton's character (not so subtly nicknamed "Worm") gets into does nothing to make Damon's life easier.

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Monument Ave. Review


OK
Weird little Ted Demme movie about (what else?) drugs and thugs. Denis Leary plays a low-level gangster in an Irish mob, forced to maintain utmost secrecy when one of his best friends is capped by the boss right in front of his eyes (and in a rather jarring sequence). Curious story, it tells us about loyalty but never says whether that's a good or a bad thing. Not to mention, it's always tough to take Leary seriously in a dramatic role. At least he really is Irish.

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Blow Review


Weak
In the famed cocaine drama Scarface, I remember a lot of gun battles and bowl after bowl of cocaine spilled on the table. I do not remember heartfelt talks with dad, a cancer-stricken girlfriend, and a child custody battle.

Yet such is the world of Blow, the most wildly anticipated drug thriller since, well, last year's Traffic. Welcome to the "based on a true story" tale of George Jung (the inimitable Johnny Depp), just a suburban boy from New England who tires of his conservative life and heads for -- where else -- L.A. Here (in the 1960s, natch), Jung hooks up with the local hair stylist/drug dealer and starts his own small pot distributorship. Soon enough he's running drugs back to Boston with the help of his friends and flight attendant girlfriend (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente). But just as he's made a name for himself, he gets busted and lands in prison.

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