Get ready. Mark your calendars. Hollywood has not produced a poker movie in several years and aside from Mississippi Grind, there really has not been any films that come close to the epicness of Rounders. I doubt there will ever be a poker and gambling movie as good as Rounders, which is a testament to the original screen play by Brian Koppleman and David Levien, along with iconic performances from John Malkovich, Matt Damon, Ed Norton, Famke Jansen, Martin Landau and John Turturro.
But Rounders, produced by Miramax and directed by John Dahl, debuted in September 1998. It's now almost 23 years later and the poker world has been eager to see the newest entry into the cannon of poker films.
All you need to know about Paul Schrader is that he's the dark and twisted mind behind Taxi Driver. He penned that original screenplay that put both Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro on the map and rocketed them both to superstardom.
Scorsese is an executive producer on The Card Counter, which is the fifth time he's collaborated with his old pal. They also worked together on Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out the Dead.
Schrader also wrote and directed First Reformed, a 2017 film with Ethan Hawke as a priest with secrets who is seeking redemption in a dark and desolate world. Sound familiar? After First Reformed earned accolades, Schrader cashed in all that good will to make The Card Counter.
Schrader is also the screenwriter and director of The Card Counter, which is being billed as a revenge thriller. Oscar Isaac plays the main role as a professional gambler who learned how to count cards while serving a decade-long stint in prison. Tiffany Haddish, Willem Dafoe, and Tye Sheridan are also in the flick.
Let me preface this -- there's not a lot of poker and gambling movies and there's only a few awesome ones that continue to hold the test of time. With that said, I'll still watch a bad poker or gambling movie because there's so few of them. There's always something to latch on to -- good or bad -- in these films that make you love/hate it.
Earlier this year in March, actor George Segal passed away. Segal appeared in California Split, a poker/gambling buddy film directed by the legendary Robert Altman that told the story of two guys that shared a bond over gambling. They both go on benders and Altman accurately portrayed the early 1970s gambling scene in Southern California and Nevada.
Rounders was epic because it chronicled the underground poker scene in NYC in the late 1990s. It came out at the right time and right place as online poker sites began to pop up at the turn of the century, and the normcore world was introduced to Texas Hold'em -- even though it had been around for decades. Rounders helped expedite the poker boom because was in heavy rotation on cable movie channels, and anyone who has caught the poker bug loved Rounders because it spoke to them on a personal level. The characters seemed real because those are some of the people we actually met at the tables.
Check out the trailer...