Lucky You (Curtis Hanson, 2007)
You have to give credit to director Curtis Hanson; he tries his level best not to repeat himself. After making his bones with suspense ("The Bedroom Window;" "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle;" "The River Wild") he does a noir epic ("L.A. Confidential,") that wins him a few Oscar nominations, then follows that up with a comedy on writers ("Wonder Boys"), a gritty urban fairy-tale about a rap artist ("8 Mile"), and now this. I find the post "L.A." films to be the most interesting ("8 Mile" being my favorite so far)--Hanson attempting the unenviable task of throwing away the crutches of genre filmmaking (suspense, noir), to focus on character and human relationships.
It doesn't help matters that poker is hardly the most visually lively of games. Critics have compared this picture to Robert Rossen's classic "The Hustler," often unfavorably, and no wonder: with all the overhead lamps hanging over pool tables the players look almost Bergmanish in their shadowy, black-and-white intensity (poker on the other hand occurs in a bright space lit solely for the benefit of TV cameras). And you can do trick shots with pool, shots that Rossen photographs simply, the better to capture their impossibility (my favorite has the cue ball put such english on a ball that it shot forward, curved around backwards in a small parabola, and sent a third ball into its pocket).