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recommended by Festivale movie reviewers; Festivale film review section; Festivale Spring 1997
The Game movie review

Are you game enough to play?

The Game

What do you get for the man who has everything? Van Orton (Douglas) is having a bad day, which is fair because he's not really a nice person. His brother buys him a present that will "make your life fun".

As a writer, there are many options open to one. You can entertain, you can edify, you can shock, you can educate, you can just plain try to make money. But the biggest seduction of all is the lure of taking the audience on a long, long trip and never quite let them catch up.

Is this the essence of catharsis? That shock, when you have been through an experience that you could not control, when an author, and an actor, and a director lead you and your mind and your emotions into places that you would not normally go? Places where you may never have a chance to go? Places better travelled by proxy.

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The Game has been rewritten. If you think Sean Penn is an odd brother for Michael Douglas, and that, perhaps, his role is a little odd, then remember that Jodie Foster was going to play the daughter/sister role of the original versions of the script.

Generally, however, the film doesn't show the strain of over-rewriting that infests too many films where accountants and suited drones play film-maker.

This one reminded me overwhelmingly of the Agatha Christie series, Parker Pyne Investigates.

The theory is simple, make your life different courtesy of a third party. In practice is costs a lot, so this is a game that the rich play.

Caller: "Is that a promise?"
Van Orton (Douglas): "I'm sorry I'm not aware of that term"

The dialogue is fun, the movie jogs along at a nice pace, and the audience gets to play a bit of a mind game, trying to second guess the film-makers. Ultimately, this is a see-it-yourself film.

Fun for boys and girls of all ages.

"I don't write the questions. I just hear the answers"

Very highly recommended. Fast-paced, interesting, tricky. You beat the director to the end, I dare you.

buyreel.jpg - 5045 Bytes See also: Terry's review
Ali Kayn

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Just the facts:

Title: The Game (128min)
(M15+) Medium Level coarse Language, Low level violence.
Written by: John Brancato & Michael Ferris
Directed by: David Fincher
Produced by: John Brancato, Michael Ferris (co) Jonathan Mostow (exec)
Edited by: James Haygood
Director of Photography: Harris Savides

Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Propoganda Films

The Players: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, James Rebhorn, Deborah Kara Unger, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina, Armin Mueller-Stahl
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.


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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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