The first episode of the new Monsters of Sox podcast covered topics ranging from Matt Barnes complaining about Chaim Bloom to the descriptive flaws of the Gregorian Calendar to, nearly 90 minutes in, the relative artistic merits of the 1998 Clive Owen movie Croupier, which is on Netflix through March 26. In the movie, Owen plays a struggling writer turned casino worker. Dan does not like Croupier, prompting this exchange (spoilers to follow).
DAN: Oh that movie sucks! Are you kidding me?
BRYAN: No, I like it. I’m only halfway through it. It’s very heavy — I mean I watched The Sting, do you want me to recommend that?
DAN: The Sting is phenomenal!
BRYAN: I know, but everybody knows that! Or maybe they don’t, because they’re young. Watch The Sting. Don’t watch Croupier. Order your pizza and watch The Sting, because The Sting is incredible.
DAN: Can I give you a very minor spoiler about Croupier that you haven’t seen yet that I hate– that I think about this scene all the time, I hate it so much?
BRYAN: Go for it.
DAN: So as you know, you’re halfway through it, Clive Owen plays a struggling writer–
BRYAN: Well I really do hate the struggling writer trope stuff. I really [inaudible].
DAN: (eagerly) Well wait until you hear what I’m about to say, then! He plays a struggling writer, and he ends up working at a casino, and there’s all sorts of suspenseful st– I don’t even remember the plot, there are twists and turns and whatnot and yadda yadda yadda.
I will just tell you this: There is a scene towards the end of the movie where Clive Owen is riding in the London Tube, and he looks around and he sees, just like 7 other people reading his book. And the people are reading it and they’re all nodding and have a smile on their face like “Oh I’m enjoying it!” That has never happened to any writer ever in the history of the written word! Every now and then you’ll hear a very popular author tell a story of seeing somebody reading their book out in the wild. It’s extremely rare. Clive Owen seems like 7 people in his subway car doing it and just, like, looks and smiles and is like “Yeah, I did it.”
God I hate that scene so much.
BRYAN: Dan hates movie magic.
First things first: I would like to apologize. I was wrong. Dan plainly believes in movie magic, in that he thinks he can just make stuff up about movies and have it magically be true.
What has clearly happened here is that Dan has smushed the ending sequence into one representative scene. He is correct that Owen’s character gets the book published, albeit anonymously, and sees several copies displayed at a bookseller:
I think we can agree it is not surprising that a hit book would be prominently displayed in a bookstore window, especially in 1998. When Dan he says saw “7 people” reading the book on the subway, he’s thinking of this.
Meanwhile, here’s the very next scene of his boss at the casino – someone who would, in fact, be interested in a book about a croupier – reading i, croupier:
I will leave you to decide whether this man has a smile on his face like “Oh, I’m enjoying it!” or I won’t, because he does.
Finally, we get to the subway car. Here is the entirety what Owen’s character sees on the tube:
One person reading his book. One. Still somewhat unlikely, but a hot local book in 1998? Well within the realm of possibility. Maybe if he in fact had a shit-eating grin about the whole thing it would be different, but no:
On the contrary, at the end of the movie, when Owen finds out he’s been a catspaw in his father’s schemes, here’s that grin:
Long story short: Dan can hate the movie all he wants, but Monsters of Sox will not hereafter be a den of lies, at least not with respect to Croupier. You deserve better, and I’m sorry.