Wahlberg and Lange filming in Beverly Hills

What is it with Hollywood and Las Vegas? Is it just me or is there a new Sin City based movie every single week? Actually I know exactly what it is; filmmakers like going to Vegas, Vegas likes them going there, and actors like to drink and gamble. The next one off the conveyor belt (unless there are a couple more out in time for Christmas) will feature Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Brie Larsson and Jessica Lange (who, unbelievably, is 64 years old) in a remake of the 1974 classic “The Gambler”. And it’s going to be called, er, “The Gambler”, in case you were wondering.

We Want Our Thumbs

The real reason there are so many Vegas movies is of course the fact that everyone on the planet is now playing poker, slots and roulette on their phones, at sites like http://www.casinosagafans.com, all the time, whether they’re at work, on the bus or watching TV. As a species, it’s pretty much all we do now, and that’s fine – we have thumbs and we need to use them, or else we’ll de-evolve back into monkeys, probably. The only really important question is – will this movie suck?

Truly Horrible

There are a number of important clues which tend to suggest that it won’t. It’s being directed by Rupert “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” Wyatt, so that’s good. John Goodman has not been less than amazing for one single second of his entire on-screen career. Mark Wahlberg overcame the massive problems he faced in his early career (i.e. being a white boy rapper in a horrible band) to become an Oscar-nominated star of such top-notch movies as The Departed, Boogie Nights and Ted.


The remake, due in January, is being written – or re-imagined if you must – by The Departed’s William Monahan, which is a good thing. Originally Martin Scorsese was scheduled to direct, but that plan went all to hell, which is not so good. Interestingly, the original producers, Irwin Winker and Robert Chartoff are on board, though James Toback (screenwriter on whose life the 1974 movie was loosely based) has criticized the decision to remake The Gambler, speaking of “rudeness and disrespect”.

The Abyss

James Caan, 1974

James Caan, 1974

James Caan starred in 1974, and has been quoted as saying it’s his favorite movie. For the huge number of people who now enjoy an online flutter, it’s certainly a movie worth seeing. Caan’s character, Axel Freed, plunges into the abyss of gambling addiction, taking money from his mother in an attempt to pay off a huge debt and earning the disgust of his grandfather.

The trick with the remake will be to hold on to the darkness and underlying personal truths of the original script; without the involvement of James Toback, however, all bets are off.


(Images courtesy of soallegedly.com, flickminute.com)