Casino Royale–A Poker Movie With Some Spy Stuff Tacked On

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006, 9:31 pm

OK, that title isn’t exactly accurate. But there was quite a bit of tense poker action in Casino Royale, which was a great flick you should go out and see. Like a colossal loser I went to see it by myself yesterday afternoon, unable to wait for my friends to find a spare evening to see it before the holidays. It was the first time I’ve seen a movie in a theater by myself since I saw Wild at Heart at Penn State for a criticism class. I actually kinda enjoyed being there solo. Kicked my feet back, didn’t have to pay attention to my jackass friends making whispered comments throughout (I’m looking at you, Ted), and I actually didn’t feel like a pathetic wreck of a man. For two hours and twenty-four minutes, at least.

Since this is a poker blog and I write about poker and you’re reading this because you like poker, let me say this right off the bat–screw the poker. Eva Green (who plays Vesper Lynd) is strikingly, swooningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful. I don’t mean pretty or cute or hot or sexy, though I guess she’s those things too. I mean beautiful in a way that makes you wish Michaelangelo was still around to paint her portrait. Or immortalize her in marble. Was Michaelangelo a painter or a sculptor? Or both? I mean, did he paint anything besides the Sistine Chapel? Which I hear is pretty good work.

My point, anyway, is that Eva Green is easy on the eyes. There’s a scene where she’s in the bathroom getting ready, she’s not wearing any makeup, and, wow, the breath leaves you. Beautiful. It got me to wondering…do they have special makeup that makes her look like she’s NOT wearing makeup? Because she looked fantabulous.

How about Daniel Craig, how was he? I don’t think you can say he’s the best Bond ever, not with just one film in the can. But he’s so good the potential is there. His Bond is a cipher, you can’t put your finger on what’s going on behind those piercing blue eyes, but he actually seems to become more…human as the film goes on. He’s smart–but not omniscient. He’s suave–but gets his applecart upturned quite a few times. He’s an Ali-caliber baaaad man–but he doesn’t win every fight. It’s a great performance by a great actor.

The fight and chase scenes are pretty extraordinary–no more seeing Roger Moore deliver a backhand chop to a henchman’s neck and he goes down in a heap. There’s blood-soaked clothing and jacked-up faces and screaming and all sorts of nastiness. The gadgets are cool, but they seem technically plausible and don’t intrude too much on the plot. The bad guys aren’t insane cartoon madmen who want to rule the world, and are therefore far scarier.

So, dammit, how was the poker? Well, a common criticism of poker in movies is that the game isn’t presented in a reasonable way. Every hand is high drama, and there’s always that big showdown at the end. Well, it’s much the same here. I didn’t expect them to show hands where Bond raises and wins the blinds (though the poker game does get lots of screen time), but the decisive hands are about what you’d expect from a movie. I won’t say what happens, but let me say this–you don’t see Bond calling with second pair against a bluffer who missed his open-ended straight draw.

Anybody want me to post hand histories from the film!! No??? What a shocker!!!

There is some actual poker advice in the film. “Everyone has a tell,” Bond tells Vesper, before adding, “Except you.” This is of course not true, Vesper indeed has a tell, a ten-story-tall, neon-lit tell festooned with blaring sirens. I think you’ll pick up on it when you see the flick. Which you should, as it’s great. I’ll probably see it again. Especially as it’ll give me another chance to see a ten-foot tall Eva Green. Hey, did they film it in IMAX too?

UPDATE: A quick stroll through Yahoo images leads me to believe that I need to see a movie called The Dreamers, in which Eva Green spends considerable time spectacularly nude. Golly. Golly gee whiz.

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4 Responses to “Casino Royale–A Poker Movie With Some Spy Stuff Tacked On”

  1. KenP Says:

    Oh callow youth…

    You need to me far more observant.

    http://www.moviemistakes.com/film6299

    🙂

  2. Tom T Says:

    I’m tempted to say Craig is the best Bond ever, held back only by my respect for the iconic Connery. And the poker was several big notches above the standard Hollywood depiction, but didn’t the final hand make you groan just a bit? Contrived and faux dramatic, reminded me of the Cincinnati Kid and its final hand.
    Anyway, Daniel Craig rules.

  3. Linda Geenen Says:

    Gene, please send me your email address, can’t find it. geenen (at) pokerworks.com.

    And are you coming to the blogger meet in December?

  4. Annie Says:

    To be honest I wasn’t going to see this movie. First of all I’m not any (great, good, so-so, killing or whatever) fan of Bond. Second, when everybody around are screaming and shouting how good it is – it makes me think very seriously.

    But after your post I think I should see it. At least for some piece of strange poker (which is Baccarat, no?) and for both Eva Green and Daniel Craig as well.

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