Thursday, January 29, 2009

seen-it: 21

Don't know where I heard about this film. I don't recall hearing much about (if anything) about it in the MSM.

It's based on the book "Bringing Down the House" - the story of the MIT black jack team which took Las Vegas for millions of dollars when they developed a highly successful card counting team. (I'm sure there was an article about poker and in last Christmas edition of the Economist which had a similar story to this - but about poker obviously. Maybe that's where I first heard about the film).

Good drama. Admittedly with lots of standard Hollywood plot features [love interest, 'mafia mob' baddy, faithful friend etc], but all done with reasonable credulity and to good effect. And I didn't see the little twist til it happened!

Watching the development of the corrupting effect of the money and the power upon the main character, Ben, was quite thought provoking & challenging. It wasn't all bad - it gave him lots of confidence, brought him out of his shell etc. But ultimately he lost more than he gained - and he realised it. Definitely got me thinking about how money / power effects me. Also made me wonder if there's any way of actually producing that sort of confidence without the money!

Interestingly(?), even in a film such as this where a love angle is just an aside ultimately, it's interesting that a full-sexual encounter always takes place on the very first 'date'. Not explicit or tastelessly done, but definitely a reflection of the mindset they try to inculcate. It's almost like it's not possible for them to demonstrate anything romantic - or even sexual - without the resorting to the 'bottom line'.

I always think a film like this has done a good job if it makes me want to go and read more / research more about the characters and events behind the film. I'll probably add "Bringing Down the House" to my reading list, but it won't be a massive priority. Only done a bare minimum of subsequent internet reading on them. So guess it can't have had the impact of some of the others I've enjoyed. But still, as a stimulating bit of entertainment & thought provoking bit of bit of commentary - I'm glad I watched it.

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