The Card Counter

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Drama;
Box Office $2.66 million;
$22.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some disturbing violence, graphic nudity, language and brief sexuality.
Stars Oscar Isaac, Tifany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe.

Writer-director Paul Schrader’s searing The Card Counter is the latest entry into his canon of films that, as he describes it on the Blu-ray’s bonus featuertte, involves a loner in a room just sitting there waiting for something to happen.

In this case it’s Oscar Isaac as a man who goes by the name William Tell, a former soldier who was involved with the Abu Ghraib torture scandal and went to prison, where learned how to play cards. Upon his release, he travels to different casinos to eke out a living as a gambler.

The set-up is a bit like if the film were Rounders told from the point of view of the Edward Norton character, if he also had PTSD and wasn’t a manipulative jerk.

Tell runs across the son (Tye Sheridan) of another soldier whose life was destroyed by the scandal, and vows revenge against a commanding officer (Willem Dafoe) who was not punished at all.

The kid asks Tell to help him murder the commander, but Tell instead convinces him to tag along on the road to learn about the key to winning various card games. This is accompanied by voiceovers from Isaac explaining the rules and quirks of some of the games for those in the audience who don’t already know.

In their travels, Tell encounters La Linda (Tiffany Haddish), who makes a living staking gamblers in high-money games and then collecting a piece of the action. She recruits Tell to her stable to play in various poker tournaments.

All the while, Tell continues to be haunted by his past, which only adds to his dismay as he tries to dissuade the kid from his desire for vengeance.

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Isaac gives an engaging performance in what is a bit of an acting showcase, while Haddish plays against type in a departure from her typical comedic roles.

Schrader also keeps the film visually interesting with some good camerawork in the casinos, particularly one tracking shot over a massive room of poker tables.

The only extra on the Blu-ray is a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

‘Adam Resurrected,’ ‘Camino,’ ‘Feed the Gods’ Coming to Disc June 22 From MVD and Bleiberg

The drama Adam Resurrected, the action-adventure Camino and the horror film Feed the Gods are coming out on Blu-ray and DVD June 22 from MVD Entertainment Group and Bleiberg Entertainment.

Jeff Goldblum stars in the drama Adam Resurrected, about a man tormented in a World War II concentration death camp by a high-ranking Nazi officer (Willem Dafoe) who spends the next 15 years in a remote experimental insane asylum with fellow Holocaust victims. Clinging to the remains of his sanity, Adam uses his magic and comic skills to entertain the residents and develops a relationship with an attractive nurse (Ayelet Zurer, Man of Steel). But only when he reaches out to a mentally scarred young boy does he begin to confront his own pain and guilt and start to heal. The film also stars Derek Jacobi (Murder on the Orient Express), is directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Schrader (First Reformed, Taxi Driver) and features a score by Academy Award Winning composer Gabriel Yared (The English Patient, Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley). Special features include audio commentary with the director, a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, a Haifa International Film Festival Q & A, and the original theatrical trailer.

The action-adventure Camino follows a celebrated war photographer Avery Taggert (Zoë Bell, Death Proof) on assignment in the Columbian jungle following a group of missionaries led by Guillermo (played by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo) as they bring meds to the poor. But when Avery’s lens captures the leader conducting a cocaine deal and murdering a child witness, Guillermo tells his troops that Avery is a threat to locals and orders them to kill her. She now has to flee into the wild jungle and a relentlessly brutal chase begins. Special features include behind-the-scenes featurettes and trailers.

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In Feed the Gods, two brothers (Resident Evil: Afterlife’s Shawn Roberts and The Killing’s Tyler Johnston) return to a small mountain town in search of their long-lost parents only to discover that the place has a monstrous “taste for tourists.” Rumors of a Bigfoot creature at first seem silly, but soon the unthinkable becomes real and the town’s insidious past emerges. Writer-director Braden Croft (Hemorrhage) delivers horror, blood and laughs in equal measure. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, the original theatrical trailer and reversible artwork.

Ethan Hawke Film ‘First Reformed’ Due Aug. 21 on Disc From Lionsgate

First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke, arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Aug. 21 from Lionsgate.

Writer-director Paul Schrader (Raging BullTaxi Driver) helms the story of Reverend Ernst Toller (Hawke), a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a struggling church who is conflicted when a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks the reverend to counsel her husband. The film also stars Cedric the Entertainer.

The Blu-ray ($24.99) and DVD ($19.98) releases include a featurette and audio commentary with director Schrader.