The Card Counter

Director: Paul Schrader
Year Released: 2021
Rating: 2.0

Former soldier "William Tell" (Oscar Isaac) spends his days as a professional gambler, driving around the country playing at various casinos - along the way he meets up with a young man named Cirk (Tye Sheridan) who knows about Tell's past and a woman named La Linda (Tiffany Haddish) that acts as a go-between for gamblers and investors.  Schrader has a knack for documenting the obsessive lives of loners (Isaac covers up all of his hotel room furniture with cloth and keeps notes on his thought process) but the link between the human rights violations that took place at Abu Ghraib prison and the world of poker is tenuous at best, and the second half of the movie is a let-down: there are too many songs and the last third gets fumbled, with Isaac ditching a game (?) to confront his former superior, Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe).  It's a tad screwy, but there's no denying this is one of Isaac's best performances to date (and he handles Schrader's creaky dialogue quite well).