This gripping, old-fashioned tale of poker hustlers conning one another, (2003) sharply written by director Damian Nieman, suggests The Hustler more than House of Games, though it lacks the metaphysical conceits of either. Instead it offers flashy performances by Gabriel Byrne, Stuart Townsend, Thandie Newton, Sylvester Stallone, Melanie Griffith, Jamie Foxx, Bo Hopkins, and Roger Guenveur Smith as an exceptionally creepy villain. (There are also cameos by Hal Holbrook, Dina Merrill, and Patrick Bauchau.) Nieman overplays his hand once or twice in an effort to startle, but for the most part he kept me fooled and primed for more developments. In ‘Scope. R, 101 min. (JR)

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