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Rounders

Year: 1998
Director: John Dahl
Cast: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, Martin Landau, Gretchen Moll, John Turturro, Famke Janssen, John Malkovich
One of the modern (and understated) kings of noir - John Dahl - bring us this specialist tale about the high stakes of poker and a bunch of characters that mnake it their living.

Early on, Mike (Damon) gets his burgeoning nest egg wiped out by a game with The Russian (Malkovich), and bows out, taking a dead end job and trying to forget his dream of being a big time player and winning a prestigious championship.

When his conniving best friend (Norton) gets out of the can, he quickly gets himself into more trouble than he can afford, dragging Mike down with him, losing him his girlfriend Jo (Moll) as he virtually forces him back into the game, in more ways than one.

You'll want Damon to slap Norton silly for his behaviour (testament to what a great performer he is), and supported by some very able secondary characters, the whole thing is deftly handled by Dahl, and you'll find it hard to believe a movie about playing cards can be so dramatic.

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