The Hustler (1961)


Link: The Hustler

Summary: Small time pool hustler Eddie wants to become a major-league pool hustler, and to prove himself he sets out to defeat Minnesota Fats, the current reigning champion. After being defeated, poor Eddie must do some soul searching, figuring out what his passion really means to him before trying once more.

Thoughts: The film is considered a classic, but perhaps seemed more riveting fifty years ago. Today it feels more like a cliche of better films that came after it, as convoluted as that may seem. I found the pacing way too slow, the characters a bit flat, and some plot points rather a bit forced. The themes, dealing with talent and passion vs character and personal sacrifice, are handled with more beauty, depth, and intrigue in films like RockyAmadeus, or even the more recent Whiplash. Still, it’s a decent film, but I think its weaknesses only lend a shovel to the more modern films slowly digging its grave in the annals of film history. But, hey, it got a blu-ray release, so its thematic strengths will ensure that one foot will dance outside the grave for some time yet.

All the King’s Men (1949)


Link: All the King’s Men

Summary: A humble and honest man runs for governor to help his fellow men, but discovers the only way to win and get what he wants is to become the sort of power-hungry swindling politician he loathed at the beginning.

Thoughts: A bit of a Citizen Kane sort of story, but much more bland.  Really, not a very interesting film.  It could’ve been a short story, but instead is drawn out to an almost two hour film.  The guy’s change from a humble and honest man to an evil politician is neither believable nor subtle.  In one scene, he’s good, and then BOOM, he becomes evil, as if it’s just one simple arbitrary choice, and spends the rest of the film being evil.  And we get it right away.  OK, he’s evil now.  But no, the film pounds it in your face.  “Look!  Look, he’s evil now!  Do you see?  Here, let me give you another example by dragging on the story for another half an hour with this subplot, because look how evil he is!”  Boring film.  I can appreciate the overall theme they were going for, but they fail.