A strong argument can be made that gambling and poker films represent one of the most consistent and timeless sub-genres in cinema. Look to a recent list of top gambling films at Vulture.com, and you’ll see examples from 1961 (“The Hustler”) through to recent years, and a discussion of 2021’s “The Card Counter.” And throughout that 60-year span, it is often the poker films –– from “The Cincinnati Kid” to “Mississippi Grind” –– that make the greatest impression.
It's likely for this simple reason that we seem to get a fresh poker film every few years. In just the last five years for instance, “Molly’s Game” and “The Card Counter” have constituted fairly significant releases in the genre (with both earning strong reviews from critics). This also means that there is usually intriguing poker-themed entertainment to look forward to –– which is why we’re taking a look ahead at three forthcoming projects that (seemingly) have to do with the game.
“Poker Face” (Film)
“Poker Face” has been promised for some time now –– to the point at which it began to seem like a project we might not actually end up seeing. However, recently released images at ScreenDaily.com gave us our first look at Russell Crowe in the starring role, which seems to confirm that the release is still planned!
All the more exciting is that said images depict Crowe in an expensive-looking suit with his hands folded over a poker table. It’s a welcome look, because “Poker Face” has been billed as a thriller in the past, raising questions as to how much it will actually have to do with the game. By the look of things now, however, we can expect some legitimate poker content. More broadly, the film will revolve around Crowe’s character –– a “billionaire gambler” –– inviting good friends to play for more money than they’ve ever dreamed of. To do so, however, they’ll have to reveal secrets, and the event will turn into far more than a poker game (by the sound of things).
Crowe co-wrote the film with Stephen M. Coates, and will direct himself.
“Rounders 2” (unconfirmed)
The original “Rounders” is considered by some to be the best poker film ever made –– and is almost certainly the most important. The film is credited with spreading interest in Texas Hold’em, including to one Chris Moneymaker –– an amateur who would go on to win the World Series of Poker and spark an international wave of renewed interest in the game. More than 20 years on, Poker.org describes Texas Hold’em as “the best-known and most popular form of poker,” and one that players around the world are interested in. To credit all of this to “Rounders” is a stretch… but perhaps not too much of one.
Because of this place in history, the film has long been a source of rumors and excitement regarding a potential sequel. And in recent years that talk seems to have picked up. No “Rounders 2” is confirmed as yet, but Matt Damon –– who starred in the original opposite Edward Norton –– has said that all the key players would enthusiastically return for more. Damon has suggested all that’s needed is a good script, and writer David Levien has stated that he and Brian Koppleman (Levien’s co-writer on the original) have been concentrating on the idea.
Time will tell, but there certainly seems to be momentum building for a poker film sequel.
“Poker Face” (TV – confirmed)
Finally, we are also anticipating a Rian Johnson-helmed television drama, which will also be titled “Poker Face.” The show will be streamed on Peacock, and is set to star Natasha Lyonne and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (alongside a host of other prominent actors.
Unlike with the Russell Crowe film, however, in this case, we don’t know with certainty if poker will actually be the subject matter. It’s been revealed that the season will run for 10 episodes, and Johnson has described it as a “case-of-the-week mystery” that will be character-driven. Frankly, that sounds like an intriguing project regardless of the subject matter. But if the show does revolve around poker or casinos, it will make for another upcoming project to keep an eye on in this space.
As ever, there appears to be a lot to look forward to in the poker sub-genre of entertainment. And at the rate such films are churned out, we wouldn’t be surprised if there are additional projects in the works we don’t yet know about, too.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this look ahead, and please return to The Culture News for more film and entertainment writing soon.