The Music of Chance
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Time Out saysWhen fireman-turned-drifter Jim Nashe (Patinkin) offers to finance the next poker game of Jack Pozzi (Spader), a cardsharp he's found wandering dazed by a country road, he little bargains for the strange turn of events that follows. Pozzi looks a sure bet against old farts Bill and Willie (Durning and Grey), but suddenly his luck changes, and Jim and Jack, deep in debt, are forced to construct a medieval wall in the victors' garden, overseen by groundsman Calvin (Walsh). The first feature of documentarist Haas may be rather literary in tone, but for all its slightly studied air, it has many virtues. Most obviously, the actors are terrific, with Spader very successfully cast against type as a sleazeball, and Patinkin a small wonder of understatement. For the most part, Haas handles his droll, resonant parable admirably, balancing its philosophical and dramatic dynamics with assurance and wit. Crucially, he has a good eye for an element of mystery. Minor, but unexpectedly engrossing.