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The Croupier

Starring: Clive Owen, Kate Hardie and Alex Kingston
Directed by: Mike Hodges
Rated: R

Buy It

Bluntly speaking? Now that Mr. Clive Owen's a Hollywood darling - bet you're looking for his pre-Arthur/Closer's a Grade A example of why Clive Owen is like man heroin. At first he's passably edible, with his cute little Clash hat and suspenders. As the story progresses, you remember the unwritten British rule...if you name your male child, Nigel, Keith or Clive when introducing them to the world, the they will inevitably grow to be distinctly handsome. Or so it seems to me anyway.

The story goes...Jack Manfred (Clive "allo, allo" Owen) is a struggling writer. He's got the block. He's also broke, natch. His father, a sneaky sort, gets him a job in a middle swank casino. Jack's no stranger to the casino they let us know. Soon he's pet dealer with the pit boss.

As he slips back into the role of master croupier (a fancy word meaning a games dealer in a casino), he also begins a novel. As he becomes more entangled in the seedy side of casino employ, so does his "character" in the novel, Jake. They are one in the same really, an autobiography of sorts.

Meanwhile, Jack's over excusing girlfriend Marion is getting unhappy. Jack's coming home late, drunk and cheating. But it's only when he may be incahoots with criminals she actually gets a spine and confronts him. Bimbo. Though he is, as I mentioned, man heroin.

Up until then they are both straight arrows. She's a store Dick, and he a croupier that doesn't gamble. However, Jack, for reasons of a hate for public transport-he wants a car- agrees to help sexy punter (casino lingo for for player) Jani de Villiers ( Alex "I slept with Ralph Fiennes" Kingston). She' in trouble with her debtors. So, by pretending to catch a staged cheat that will cause a great diversion and thusly allow robbers in unnoticed, Jack can score some pocket money and a great story line for his novel. Yeah, it's illegal.

Will they get away with it?

Can't tell you that. I can tell you the whole cast is going to be on iron lungs later on in life. Smoke City! I'm just guessing a big financier of this movie had Reynolds or Raleigh on their company letterhead. Everyone but the cat smoked - heavy. At one point I actually laughed out loud. Jack is talking with a cigarette in his left lip. Cut to: Dad talking with a cigarette in his left lip. Volley back and forth a few times. Cut to: Casino mate with cigarette in left side of lip! This kind of thing goes on for at least thirteen scenes- or half the movie. The humor was not lost on me, I'll tell you. Not to mention the subliminal message; I immediately stopped and got cigarettes after the movie.

This Clive Owen fellow, cigarette breath or not, is a double order of shepherds pie with a side of slow roasted grade A man meat. He's calming and sexual. Strong and mesmerizing. Yum-o-rama central girls. An eye is to be firmly fixed upon this bright young studly star...

The ladies in the movie-and he's got plenty vying for his attentions- are attractive yet pleasantly real looking. Lot's of booby shots to keep the boys happy.

My only complaint is Croupier is not a fast film. I nearly nodded off twice. But, it is well done and great for a lazy day at the movies. Perhaps after all the explosions and special effects my brain has engulfed recently I've been tainted. The ending was surprising but not particularly thrilling. The characters felt real if not electrifying. Still this is very much recommended.

Snack recommendation: Vodka on the rocks straight up, it's what Jack would like...


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