Streetwise Charlie and married Bill play gambling fiends in Altman’s study in friendship, mania, and the rush of chance. Chasing the ever-receding goal of a streak, the pair hustle themselves into the ground, as Gould and Segal bring an extraordinary lived-in camaraderie to their roles.
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One of the most genuine and funny movies I've seen. It flows and feels real in every moment. These guys are in a tunnel together, probably on a road to ruin, but man are they having fun.. The compulsive behaviour of taking a chance, taking a risk, is present on every level. At times you admire it, at times you despise it.
Emphasis on "California"—like Inherent Vice, this is best appreciated by those who know the Golden State, with its unconventional makeshift family units and its subcultures trying their damnedest to avoid having a 9-to-5 routine. Its dissection of gambling addiction is heartbreaking, with Elliot Gould the standout as a man capable of papering over his irresponsibility with pure charisma. The wheel keeps spinning.
A great film about friendship, addiction & co-dependency, which typical of Altman's ability to tackle BIG themes & emotions without ever seeming to break a sweat, is nothing less than delightful. Though a minor work in comparison to his others 70s' landmarks (Nashville, Thieves, McCabe, etc) this is a masterclass in naturalistic film acting & a further touchstone of Altman's characteristic "observational" technique.
Unfortunately, 2 scenes had to be cut out from the DVD re-release because the songs used were too expensive to pay for the rights to again! That is so wrong that they can do that to a classic film. Also wrong that Richard Carpenter is preventing SUPERSTAR by Todd Haynes from ever being shown again. This licensing system is fucked up regarding art which has already been produced 40 years ago, and R.C. is a fascist.
A passionate exploration of friendship amongst a seedy and fringe lifestyle. The details this movie fetishistically capture make it a real gem in Altman's filmography. I cared about the pure chance Segal and Gould lived off of that just seeing them go through the progress of gambling felt truly cinematic. Does it really matter what you earn when you go through the emotions behind it?
The film is a jazz concert. The anarchic, almost inconsequential progression builds its own atmosphere, and finally creates its own message. You get to wonder if a proper script was even needed, for all it's worth it could have been shot on a five-page draft, since the real heart of the film lies in the energy of Segal, Gould and Altman.