Wednesday, January 28, 2015


The Music of Chance (1993) - Haas
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Jim (Mandy Patinkin), a straight-laced drifter picks up Jack Pozzi (James Spader), a ratty, beaten up gambler on the side of the road. On the way to New York, Jack tells Jim a wild story about a poker game with a couple of rich old kooks, Bill and Willy (Charles Dunning and Joel Grey) in their mansion that he needs $10,000 to get back into the game. Jack is really good at the game and thinks he can wipe the floor with these old brothers. Jim decides to take his chances with this shady total stranger and back him up with his money after testing Jack's poker skills.

So they go to the mansion, pass the creepy caretaker (M. Emmet Walsh) at the gate, and meet the brothers. Bill and Willy show them around the place, including Willy's rendition of the miniature model 'world'. Once the card game begins, Jack is destroying the brothers. But the luck turns the other way, after Jim steals the trinket from 'the world' during the break. Jack loses everything (including Jim's car) and they owe the brothers $10,000. The brothers have a proposition: they can build the wall in their property to pay back the debt while living in the trailer park. Jack is outraged by it but Jim doesn't see any way out of this predicament, they agree to build the wall and earn their wages to pay back the debt. It's going to take a month or so, probably.

Based on Paul Auster's story, The Music of Chance is an intriguing film. The questions arise: Are the two brothers god and Jack and Jim paying the penance for whatever sin they have committed? Is the stone wall that serves no purpose a metaphor of some kind, that we are all trapped in this rat race of a life whether you want to escape it or not? Jim keeps listening to classical music. There is no music of chance. Music is orchestrated to a T by a composer. Jim, a man of strong moral, who doesn't believe in luck, always taking things in stride, gets tested in this story.

The Music of Chance is an intriguing puzzle piece full of seductive power. A perfect movie to ride out the snowstorm with.