4 Dogs Playing Poker
4 Dogs Playing Poker appeared at a variety of film festivals during 2000 and 2001, such as the Boston Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival. The film marks the feature film debut of director Paul Rachman, who has previously directed both music videos and short films, several of which won awards. Starring in the film are: Stacy Edwards (Holly), Balthazar Getty (Julian), Daniel London (Kevin), and Olivia Williams (Audrey), with Tim Curry (Felix), Forest Whitaker (Mr. Ellington), and George Lazenby in supporting roles.
Felix recruits four friends for an international art heist and each is promised $100,000 on delivery by Mr. Ellington, a ruthless crime lord. However, the statuette, which is to be shipped to Los Angeles, is believed to not be on board by Ellington's associates. Ellington informs the four friends that if the statuette doesn't arrive in five days, they will owe him one million dollars. Desperate for the cash, they devise a plan where they each take out a million dollar insurance policy on themselves and then, via cards, decide secretly who is to be the killer and the victim. Now, they wait for the deadly game to play out, unsure of whom to trust.
4 Dogs Playing Poker is one of the best suspense films I've seen of late, as its filled with unexpected twists. The four main stars pull off decent performances, though it is hard believing that they really are good friends, and not just acquaintances. Tim Curry excels in his role as the shady mentor to the group, while Forest Whitaker is perfectly menacing in his all too brief appearance as Mr. Ellington. While the film's concept sounds great, there are quite a few plot holes that pop up which can ruin your enjoyment of the film if you dwell on them.
4 Dogs Playing Poker is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The transfer has its fair share of light grain and specks, with a few smaller marks appearing occasionally, though for much of the time, it isn't too distracting. Colors are natural throughout, with accurate flesh tones and deep blacks.
4 Dogs Playing Poker is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film is primarily dialogue driven, and as such, the 5.1 track is mainly based in the front channels, with the rears mostly providing ambient background noise. The film's score is great and makes effective use of the surround channels. Dialogue throughout is crisp and clean with no distortion. Optional subtitles are available in English, Spanish, and French.
Extras include the film's trailer as well as selected filmographies for seven of the cast.
4 Dogs Playing Poker is an above average independent film that's worth viewing if you enjoy suspense films and you're willing to overlook some plot holes. Warner Bros. has delivered the film on DVD with a great presentation and a low MSRP, and as such, its easy to recommend.