The Music of Chance (1993) Poster

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Tragically overlooked movie
MBin16 September 1998
The Music of Chance is one of those movies in the "eclectic" section at your local video store, one that you pick up on that Thursday when your girlfriend is off on a trip and no one will go to the pub with you. One you wouldn't actually go out and rent to watch with others, lest they find out how pathetic your life is.

But once you get one of these movies home, you find it's absolutely gripping. Sure, it's actually a picture-novel--not purely a visual experience, obviously based on something. But you watch it. Then you watch it again, and listen more carefully. Then you return it, so that you can tell your friends that they really ought to see this movie, it's got that guy, you know, the fat guy, and this other guy, and it's about poker, and your friends ignore you, and think to themselves, "hope his girlfriend gets back soon--he's a wreck these days." But really, they should see the movie. But they don't. And the crushing loneliness and isolation of modern life weighs down on you all the more heavily.

*That* is what this movie is like.
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A real gem
Jaime N. Christley21 February 1999
Now here's a rare bird indeed--a '90s movie with an imaginative, original plotline and interesting characters. There wasn't a moment in this film where I could tell where it was going. It wasn't just random and arbitrary like, say, "U-Turn" or "Lost Highway". With a measured pace, it's constructed like a weird dream--if you liked the films of Philip Kaufman or Lindsay Anderson, or the plays of David Mamet, I think you'll have a good time with this one.
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A film that raises major philosophical issues
baepj-122 July 2007
"The Music of Chance" is about--well--the music of chance. Life is terribly, sometimes beautifully, unpredictable, yet man has ever sought to control the odds, or weight them in his favor. The penchant for doing this extends from the gambler to the stockbroker. We find varying elements of this desire in most of the world's religions.

Pozzi, coming off a losing streak, believes he can regain his losses by playing two novices he beat previously, Flower and Stone, in a high-stakes poker game. They have, however, boned up on their game since last playing him, and he and Jim Nashe, who has staked him, are left with a Sisyphean task to work off their debt.

Nashe, played expertly by Mandy Patamkin, may be the only "free man" of the major characters in this film. He can accept loss with grace and strength, which likely reflects his attitude toward life. Pozzi, Flower, Stone, and Murks are all prisoners of their particular "angle." "The City of the World," a board model in the Flower-Stone residence, embodies a world where nothing is left to chance, and the enslaved revel in their servitude.

This is a rare film in that it raises philosophical questions, in much the same way that "The Rapture" raised theological ones. As such, it was unlikely to gain a large audience, in spite of some very good performances.
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Elegant, unique, and compelling
barfly9918 May 2002
Paul Auster writes marvelous contemporary fiction, and this is a wonderful film adaptation of perhaps his finest work.

THE MUSIC OF CHANCE revolves around two very different protagonists. Jim Nash (Mandy Patinkin) is an ex-fireman, driving across America, and searching for meaning to his life. Jack Pozzi (James Spader) is a professional poker player, out of money, out of luck, and given a ride to New York by Nash. It emerges Jack has a game scheduled with two eccentric millionaires (Joel Grey and Charles Durning), so Jim puts up the capital with the last of his own money. But the poker game doesn't go quite according to plan...

Some people have described this film as "pretentious" - pretending to what exactly? Jack Pozzi and Jim Nash are two unusually clearly defined characters - one shallow, over-confident, tetchy; the other calm, reasonable, tolerant. Their eventual predicament is also disarmingly simple. That air of mystery to the film does not spring from narrative or character but from the viewer's own philosophies towards life. Does one choose one's own path or is it chosen for you? Chance or fate? Freedom or incarceration? Meaning or, in Nash's words, "just bullshit". So in fact even if you think the events onscreen have no deeper meaning, well then that *is* the meaning. For you anyway.

The acting is universally excellent, with Grey, Durning, M Emmet Walsh, and Chris Penn illuminating supporting roles. But Patinkin and Spader dominate the film, with two absolutely captivating performances. Philip Haas's direction is suitably under-stated, and there is also excellent use of music, from jazz to classical.

THE MUSIC OF CHANCE is an absorbing and intelligent piece of film-making. If only there were more films like it.
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A good opportunity for male viewers to learn something important.
johnmacassey12 August 2005
Mandi Patinkins portrayal of Jim Nashe is brilliant. Jim is a great character- a somewhat mysterious man cruising aimlessly in his beautiful BMW, when, on a whim, He picks up hitch hiker, Jack Pozzi, a down on his luck gambler, played so well by James Spader.

That is the first clue. How many of us driving alone picks up a stranger looking the way Pozzi did on that particular day.

As they drive towards New York city, Pozzi tells Nashe about his great gambling opportunity to make it big time- all he needs is to be bankrolled.

The following story is one of being free, willing to take the chance of an adventure into the unknown and above all, about honor, integrity and being a man in the very best sense.

10 out of 10.

For me, a very inspiring film and tale.
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This film took me completely by surprise
Wazoo28 February 2000
I rented this movie about five years ago not knowing what to expect. I saw a few raves on the back of the box, and even though the cast looked a bit uneven, I took a chance. I was totally mesmerized. I enjoyed it so much I watched the whole thing all over again the next evening. It's a totally captivating story with wonderful cinematography, a beautiful soundtrack, and it's all held together by the fact that you have no idea what is going to happen next.

The story -- based on the novel by Paul Auster -- is certainly an original one. Mandy Patinkin plays a fireman named Nash who is taking an extended roadtrip/vacation and picks up the James Spader character (Pozzi) on the side of the road, bruised and bloody. Apparently Pozzi, who is normally a card player with a golden touch, lost his shirt to a pair of eccentric millionaires. Nash agrees to front Pozzi the money to get back in a game with the old guys in an attempt to win back his money. Well, one thing leads to another and Nash and Pozzi lose their shirts in the rematch. The payoff scheme conceived by the millionaires eventually drives Nash and Pozzi to the brink of insanity. Without giving away too much more of the plot, let's just say it involves the building of a wall and we'll leave it at that.

All the performances are memorable. It's a small cast, but each actor (Patinkin, Spader, Charles Durning, Joel Grey, M. Emmet Walsh, Christopher Penn and Samantha Mathis) does wonderfully. Patinkin is marvelous as a quiet, sensible man who slowly goes mad. Spader is totally over the top and manages to deliver what's probably his finest performance to date. Durning is terrific, as is the always-dependable character actor Walsh.

A few months after seeing the movie for the first time, I read the book and was pleasantly surprised at how faithful the book was in recreating the story. If you are a fan of this book or any other of Auster's works, this is definitely worth checking out.
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Brilliant, Bizarre, Beautiful
newnoir18 July 2000
This is a film that defies categorization. It starts off seemingly as a film about high stakes poker players and evolves into something decidedly and deliciously different. James Spader plays something other than his usual blonde pretty boy types and Mandy Patinkin shines. If you are fed up with movies with plots you can easily second guess then 'The Music Of Chance' is for you.
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Just how long do we have to wait for DVD
soliam-118 April 2006
This is one of my favorite movies of all times. With all the mediocre DVDs being released, what are they waiting for to release "The Music of Chance"? This is an incredibly good story, acted out by superb actors. James Spader is hardly recognizable, Mandy Patkin understood his subtle role, but my favorite character is Calvin Murks (M. Emmett Walsh is the creepiest "ordinary villain" of all). Ever since I saw this movie, I cannot see a flat stone wall without feeling the anguish of Nashe and Pozzi . But this movie, like the book, needs to be seen many times to half understand its many different meanings, symbolisms and metaphors. Please release it in DVD (I lost my VSH copy), and please, Mr. Auster, write more stories, you are indeed the best.
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A lovely surprise at the end of the day
alanpuzey19 May 2002
Yesterday, I hired 'AI' on video, watched it and thought 'a typical over-hyped Hollywood movie' - overlong with some excellent effects and rather disjointed good and bad phases. Later that evening I started watching 'The Music of Chance' on TV; which I had noticed was only given moderate status in the Radio Times reviews. The longer I watched it, the more hooked I became on a really great movie, that was everything AI wasn't. The good, original story was brilliantly translated to film by Philip Haas and the five principal actors were all superb in their roles. The movie just got better and better until the really neat ending closed in the perfect way for me. What a surprising day's film viewing that turned out to be.
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There's different ways to learn lessons
magicpowers19 November 2004
The premise of the movie is that two very different kind of drifters hook up. One being Pozzi (James Spader), a professional card player and the other Nashe (Mandy Patinkin), an ex-firefighter whose wife abandoned him and their young daughter. He has left his child with his sister and is driving around the country in an attempt to run from his pain.

Nashe decides to bankroll Pozzi in a poker game with two rich eccentrics (played dauntingly enough by Charles Durning and Joel Grey). Pozzi is convinced the men will be an easy take but as fate would have it, he not only loses Nashe's last ten grand and beloved BMW, but with Nashe's help, they get themselves ten thousand dollars in debt to the two wealthy men. One of the players has the idea of letting them pay off the debt by building a wall monument out of 10,000 stones imported from a castle in Europe. Pozzi is outraged but cannot bring himself to leave Nashe, who is agreeable to working off the debt. They'll live in a trailer in the meadow for several weeks while working on the monument. Their days of labor, supervised by Calvin (M. Emmet Walsh) and evening discussions are interesting enough.

I have the feeling the movie would have been more enjoyable if I'd read the novel and couldn't help but imagine how the book was worded as I watched the movie a second time. It is one of those films I can watch again and again. I'm still trying to figure out the lessons besides the obvious: gambles, playing out of your league, getting in over your head and that there's no such thing as a "sure thing".

Pozzi and Nashe may have different world views but they don't clash, they actually compliment each other rather nicely. I thought it profound when Pozzi blames Nashe for breaking his winning streak by wandering off during the fabled game and into the "City of the World" room. There Nashe swipes a tiny replica of their antagonists. Pozzi asserts that Nashe broke the streak by violating the Universe in some way, destroying the harmony they had enjoyed while winning. Nashe thinks this absurd and that Pozzi is giving power to a little piece of wood and sets it on fire to prove his point. This "City of the World" room is toy land built by one of the rich poker player's (Joel Grey's Stone). It's his view of what was and what should be. Disturbingly enough, it contains prisoners happily paying for their crimes. It's a tool for foreshadowing some events and also portrays the wealthy eccentric's power over their pawns. And though the "City of the World" is Stone's baby, one gets the feeling that Charles Durning's Flower character was the real ruler of their kingdom.

The movie only features about ten actors, making it clean and simple fare. James Spader does a superb job of making a creepy, little hustler likable. He is helped by Mandy Patinkin's soothing performance of a damaged but composed soul who's sympathy for Pozzi is contagious.

Beneath Nashe's stoicism his emotions are as palpable as Pozzi's outward agitation. A soft-spoken and strangely plotted story, it's quite a rare gem.
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Great but it should have been a Saab not a Beamer
tommyuk23 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
**** Some Spoilers ***** The Music of Chance is a dark, atmospheric and haunting parable of how in a split second decision one's fate can be changed dramatically.The cast in this film are wonderful.James Spader is cast completely out of type as Jack Pozzi an itinerant gambler who stumbles out of the woods to be picked up hitchhiking by Nashe played by Mandy Pantinkin. Jack tells Nashe about how he can win a big game of poker against a couple eccentric millionaires Flower and Stone played by Charles Durning and Joel Grey.Nashe agrees to back Jack with his own limited funds, so begins this cautionary tale.Also adding to the excellent cast is Emmet Walshe and Chris Penn.The acting in this film is superb by everyone especially Spader who gives Jack's character lot's of emotion.A wonderful translation of the Paul Auster novel which is very reminiscent of work by Samuel Becket and Franz Kaffka.
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Twisty and brilliant, why no DVD?
theskulI423 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"We're gonna build a wall. A monument, really. A monument in the shape of a wall."

The Music of Chance is an example of the reason I do film quests. The film is written by Paul Auster, an author I am most certainly a fan of, but there's really no impetus, no overarching reason for me to seek this movie out. It's decently well-thought-of, but not extremely acclaimed, it stars a few somewhat famous actors (James Spader and Mandy Patinkin) and a handful of That Guy character actors (Charles Durning, , the plot isn't the most intriguing thing of all time, and the film is frustratingly obscure: despite starring several famous people and being well-thought-of, it lacks a DVD in the United States.

As stated, the story doesn't have any instant hooks: a guy picks up a bloodied man in a suit on the side of the road, they get together for a card game against a couple of easy-mark millionaires, and after losing, end up building a wall for them on their estate. But Paul Auster is an author I have read two stories from, and one of the few authors that I actively plan to read more from, simply because he attains an air of enigmatic menace in every word; nothing sinister might be happening, but exact reasoning is unclear, and easy answers are completely absent, and this mystery of the possibly-not-so-benign is incredibly unsettling. Director Phillip Haas has managed to imbue HIS The Music of Chance with the spirit of its author.

The writing, and by extension, the film makes its living on the unsaid, the unconfirmed, the unsure. Everything going on in the story could possibly be innocent, but there's inklings that it might not be, and while nothing is ever stated outright, it always feels like something shady is going on. For instance, the mysterious circumstances and the game of fabrications involved with the initial meeting between Spader and Patinkin, or the fact that once they begin building the wall, a new character arrives to follow them, and we never see the two rich men again. Hell, everything dealing with the "City of the World" that seems to affect and drive so much of the story is Auster incarnate: natural and impressive, but with an air of menace, like a tiny, figurine-based portent of doom. The ending is, of course, indirect and gives anything but clarity. It's circular in nature, and like Haneke's Cache, seems to answer something, but really just sort of raises more questions, and other than the tinge of recognition provides no satisfaction except that it's satisfying in and of itself.

In the acting department, everybody brings their A game: James Spader is absolutely fabulous as the Ratso Rizzo-esquire Jack Pozzi, and from the look to the disposition to the accent, I was really impressed with what he has done with the character. Mandy Patinkin is supposed to be the blank slate; if not the surrogate, he's the anointed protagonist simply because he's on-screen the most, and he's as enigmatic as the rest of 'em. Charles Durning and Joel Grey are a perfect example of how you can get two benign, pleasant-looking men, have them doing sketchy and strange things, and make them seem ominous. Durning gives all his lines like his character rehearsed them for a con, and Joel Grey gives a performance that is cold and threatening by being so vapid and genial. M. Emmet Walsh shows up and also is mysterious and unexplainable, and when other character saunter in like the hooker played by Samantha Mathis, or Walsh's son (Chris Penn), you just start looking for clues and suspecting everybody of something.

And that's what it really comes down to: so much atmosphere for so little action creates a gloriously palpable sense of paranoia and dread. You're not sure what the characters' motives are, just as you're not sure what their ulterior motives are, or if they even have any, but you just feel like you need to be on the lookout, because something unpleasant might go down at any minute, and it might happen to YOU! I've watched the "City of the World" scene four times since I finished the film, and I've noticed new things each time that, once again, seem to answer a question, but instead raise several more. But that's the fun of Paul Auster, that's the fun of absurdism, that's the fun of life. That's the fun of the music of chance, and THAT's the fun of The Music of Chance.

{Grade: 9/10 (A-) / #4 (of 40) of 1993}
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Good actors, but not worth the time
SmithWrite16 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
My husband and I stumbled across this one while channel surfing, and stayed tuned because we wanted to watch Mandy Patinkin and James Spader at work. Later on we were rewarded when other interesting joined them including M. Emmet Walsh, Charles Durning, and Joel Grey.

Normally about now I put in a "Spoiler" because of my problems with the specific elements of a film's plot, but I don't have to this time because the entire thing made no sense. At every point the characters either acted without any motivation or ignored reasonable alternatives in favor of completely illogical choices. As it went along, I kept coming up with ideas that might explain all the oddities (taking into consideration its apparent "Twilight Zone" sensibility), but the ending provided no resolution whatsoever.

I recognize Paul Auster is considered an excellent contemporary writer, and perhaps because of its nature, his book on which the movie is based makes more sense. But a film director's job is to convey meaning independent of whether the audience is familiar with the underlying work. When a film could literally be found to mean anything by viewers desperate to defend its artistic value, it has no meaning at all.
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dam good offbeat film
judgejimp30 March 2005
An excellent poker player and his random investor get to play a high stakes poker game against and eccentric/weird rich couple of old doods. The player gets jinxed by his backer and losses all there money and then some and have to pay off the debt by working in the doods back yard for a couple of months and not allowed to leave till they've repaid there debt. Things turn nasty and i wouldn't want to be in these guys shoes thats for sure.

if your into offbeat slightly unnerving poker films then this is for you 8-) i love this film its a bit surreal, tense and unnerving and keeps you guessing 10/10
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What its really about:Is life a game like poker? (spoilers)
rich-10623 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Do our lives follow the principles of gaming like poker? All the reviewers of the movie or the book that I have found so far have missed the key theme of the "The Music of Chance". Yet there are many clues indicating that the book author, Paul Auster, wanted to show how mathematics, game theory, is part of our life events. Numbers such as the wall of 10,000 stones (referring to the Wailing Wall) , bankrolls, prime numbers, costs, and number of supplies are purposely mentioned in the film. The character names, Stone and Flower, could well be a reference to the diamonds suit and the clover-shaped club suit of playing cards. The lead character is named Nash(e), the same as the real life mathematician famous for game theory work. His life was portrayed in " A Beautiful Mind". He was famous for the "Nash Bargaining Solution" for coalitional or cooperative game strategy where 2 or more people can only get the most out of a game by cooperation and trust. The manner in which Nash and Pozzi cooperate and the way Stone and Flower cooperate in the game is a key element of the movie. You don't have to know game theory to enjoy the movie, but its does help to be familiar with a few gaming and poker concepts.

In poker, good outcomes occur when you risk the least to gain the most and when you have the better hand. The characters in this movie are repeatedly dealt "hands" with which they must decide whether to bet or pass. Their choices determine their fate. Their life decisions and their consequences create the game of life which yields a a certain harmony and continuity like music. Try to notice each time in the movie that a character had two choices. How much did they risk to gain what? To get you started, early in the movie Nash could have played it safe and drove directly to his sister but he made a choice to pick up Pozzi and later he took a chance to cooperate with Pozzi in the poker game. Both he and Pozzi start out similarly with low bankrolls. Nash is running out of money, lost his wife, his job, and his father. it would be hard for him to lose much. On the other hand, Flower and Stone have a huge bankroll. Long ago they took a low risk chance to win a lot in a lottery and won. Pozzi had a choice of staying or leaving after the poker game. He also had a choice of staying or leaving the wall when it is nearly finished. In each case, he make a choice to risk a lot, and he loses. A very brief unlikely event, involving the passing of a pickup truck at the wrong time, causes him to suffer a "bad beat". Meanwhile Flower and Stone live in a castle-like house the Kings. They have diorama, city of the world , placed on a table like cards in a poker game. It depicts people in various active situations. One unlucky one has slipped on a banana peel, others are in prison, and one is facing a firing squad. Risking the most to get the least is a strategy for tragedy. Near the end of the movie Nash senses that he is losing his life and risks a lot in a plan to try to save it. Based on my own experience, It's unlikely that Flower and Stone could have beaten Pozzi at poker after a few lessons and after getting beat so easily. There sudden change in luck against Pozzi in their own house made it seem like a form of cheating called collusion , a "cooperative" way to play poker.

I give this movie 8/10 for excellent acting and writing. I also posted these comments on the movie's discussion board at this site for any responses. I am a mathematician and poker player. I have not read the book. I hope these comments increase your enjoyment of the movie.
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Strangely enticing
James-2809 April 2000
This film, although some would say doesn't actually go anywhere, is strangely watchable and quite enjoyable. The two leading men develop a brotherly bonding between them and are perfectly cast. Not the best film I have ever seen, but certainly one I could watch again.

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cdr-223 January 2000
After having read the book I didn't know what to expect from this film. Not too much one might suppose, judging from what generally happens to books when they're translated to film. The book left very clear, clean images in my mind. When I close my eyes I can still see those images: some of them remind me of Edward Hopper paintings, not anything he painted, but the atmosphere and the serenity of those paintings. The film didn't change all of that, a lot of the time the pictures even turned out like I had imagined them.

With only the ending being different from the book, (allowing Paul Auster a short appearance - does the story start over again here?) the film isn't as grim, as dark as the book.

This film makes for calm, to me hypnotic, viewing. I suppose a lot was said in silence, on the other hand: I had read the book before... Very un-hollywood.
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A film for those who want questions rather than answers.
robot-dog31 January 2018
If you like films where Eddie Murphy plays a host of parts by donning rubber faces, or a cop who is one day from retirement, or a protagonist who is shot at endlessly but never dies, or films celebrated for destroying the greatest number of cars in chase scenes, or Scooby Doo endings where everything is explained for you, then you probably aren't going to like this.

That is not to say that there aren't good films like that, just that different films have different audiences. I told someone once about The Music of Chance and how I kept going over it in my mind the next day. Twenty five years have passed and I'm still thinking about it. He hinted he was very sorry I'd had to see a film like that, and that's not what films are for. They're just supposed to fill 98 minutes of your life with something until you get onto the next thing. He'd misunderstood that I love that this film had stayed with me, had occupied my time on countless occasions other than one of the many viewings. It's so rare to find something that can compel for many years (the other example which comes to mind is Dogtooth - I think people who like Dogtooth would like The Music of Chance and vice versa).

I'm not going to talk about the plot, more about how this film made me feel. Films, for me, are too often little compartments where everything is neatly tied up and people get what they deserve. Perhaps as an escape from real life, which is nothing like that at all. What The Music of Chance does is make you believe it's allegorical but without revealing the whole. You get feelings about things, rather than solid answers. There are clues even in the names of the characters, as if there's some twisted nominative determinism at play.

There are also moments of deep unease. Not because of a psychopath with a chainsaw, but because you got a glimpse at the bigger picture (but only a glimpse). Things which seem harmless (like a faithful representation of a model village) are imbued with metaphysical dread. As for the ending, I can understand why it would disappoint some but, for me, the slew of questions the film left me with were multiplied by the final scene. It was, in itself, a huge payoff.

I don't generally believe in giving 10/10 reviews because it implies perfection (or close to it). But, in this case, 9/10 doesn't feel right (and I've had 25 years to mull that over). This is a wonderful, wonderful film with great acting but, sadly, more people are going to dislike it than like it, because it's not the kind of thing we're usually presented with. More's the pity!
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BIG payoff!!
Zsolt-211 July 1999
Even if your tastes aren't inclined towards the brooding and the existential, even if the big-in-France school of literature ain't your cup of white Russian, sit through this one, daddy-o. For any fan of the performance arts, you must see Auster's bravura, powerhouse performance at the end--his delivery, his inflection! Anyone who's read "Mr Vertigo" and seen his performance in this knows that our man Paul is in the wrong business. See it for him.
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Movie that goes nowhere..........
merklekranz12 December 2008
"The Music of Chance" is certainly an intriguing title. The acting is first rate. The story is very original. The music quite good. Yet, the film seems to leave one with a sense of emptiness. Generally, I put entertainment at the top of my list of things I look for in a movie experience. If you have to look for meaning from a film, chances are the last 90 minutes of your life have not been pleasant. Throughout "The Music of Chance", I anticipated some kind of payoff, something that would move the story forward, beyond the obvious. Unfortunately there was no payoff. In fact I felt cheated, being lead down a path to nowhere. - MERK
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unbelievably boring and boorish film
meisenst29 April 2000
Well, I don't share the enthusiasm others have expressed for the philosophical heavy breathing which underlies this film. I just found it boring, dull-witted and ultimately pointless. If I want existentialism, I'll re-read huis clos. This movie positively annoyed me perhaps because it was praised so highly by so many, including the infamous two thumbs up from you-know-who. I think this movie should be used at local correctional facilities as an alternative punishment in lieu of "the hole." Avoiding this film might have remarkable rehabilitative properties for captive audiences all over this great land.
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An intellectually bitter pill.
Doctor_Bombay7 April 1999
Not for all tastes, this film combines the unique film making approach of Philip Haas (Angels and Insects) with a story by one of our most profoundly intellectual novelists of the 20th century, Paul Auster.

Dramatically understated, ‘The Music of Chance' chronicles one man's search (Mandy Patinkin plays Jim Nash) for himself, as he quits his job, loads his car and heads cross country. That his path crosses that of Jack Pozzi (James Spader) a drifter, card-sharp, down on his luck today, but eye's on the ‘big score' ahead, is not exactly unpredictable. What they encounter as a result is indeed surprising, as well as strenuous, and all together inappropriate to be delivered in the fantasy medium of film.

When I read the book, I stumbled over the text, the words weighing heavy on my being. Reading and re-reading, the labor of the learning was far more than that which had yielded the purchase price.

Every twist and turn of the plot deals more multiple metaphor. Don't look to walk away from this one with a pleasant taste in your mouth, but you may find yourself a better person having watched it. Look for a Paul Auster cameo at the end.
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Fairly poorly adapted
geir_velure26 July 2013
Alright, just to make it clear from the beginning: I read the book before watching the movie, and therefor, my opinions might be taunted.

As I see it, no characters in this movie builds up character. They just appear the way they are, and we're suppose to accept that. The Nashe character is overly calm, without us knowing why. The Pozzi character is played by a man in his 30s, looking like a man in his 30s (Which differentiate greatly from the book). No relationship is build between the two main characters, which makes later happenings completely unexpected and out of (the little we've established of) character.

Since I've read the book, I can't help imagining the script writers sitting with the book, and ripping out pages in between happenings, which makes the actions of the characters completely random.

Like I said: My opinions might be greatly influenced by the book. I completely adore Auster as an author, and I've read all his novels, so this might be just be random ranting about a movie which didn't live up to any hopes, but in my opinion, this movie is fairly soulless and without any inner logic.
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Risk watching it
Radiant_Rose6 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This was a bit mysterious for my tastes, but there are some interesting moments in it.

Joel Grey seems to have cornered a bit of a market in sinister characters, since I recall his being involved not only in the death of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (later revived) but also in the demise of JR Ewing.

James Spader, by contrast, seems to have wanted to escape from playing devious blonde yuppies by playing a dark-haired person with no money and no class. Probably the best part of the film is the interaction between him and Mandy Patinkin's character. Note that Patinkin is male: there is a distinct shortage of female characters in the film.

I disliked not knowing who died at the end and who survived.

My favourite accessory is the fake tiara.

I find it interesting that Paul Auster, who wrote the book on which the film is based and who has a cameo at the end, bears a close resemblance to Mandy Patinkin.
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A great story!
marksmusic23 June 2006
Having never heard of the film I took a "chance" with it and my only disappointment is that it was actually under priced. I paid 99p for the DVD in a supermarket a few weeks ago which is criminal! Paul Auster is an author who has been recommended to me on several occasions by a good friend. I only realised that it was a film based on his novel of the same name when I decided to read the credits after watching it. The production style seems to give this film its character in that it has some nice subtleties. Watch out for Haas' depiction of what's going through Jack Pozzi's mind about three quarters of the way in. Genius! The standard of the acting starts off OK as does the script they have to work with and seems to improve as the film go's on. Mid way through there are some lines that are delivered with real style. I enjoyed the sound track which compliments the story very well with some nice jazz references. It is however Austers story that makes this film note worthy. I was absolutely glued to the screen as a result of his ability to evoke a constant feeling of anticipation. I will be keeping an eye open for both Paul Auster and Philip Haas' work as a result of seeing "the music of chance".
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