Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
To describe "The Music of Chance" as a journey into the Twilight Zone would be unfair - there's more to it - but would strike the right note. The movie tells a bizarre, disturbing story of two men who meet by chance, and find themselves trapped in a bargain that seems sealed by the powers of evil.
The movie opens, as all Satanic stories do, on a fine untroubled day. Mandy Patinkin plays a man named Nashe, who has just cut his ties with his earlier life, and is driving down the road, free and open to new experiences. He gives a lift to a stranger on the roadside (James Spader), who turns out to be a professional poker player named Pozzi, and tells of losing $10,000 to a couple of guys he should have beaten. Nashe has $10,000 and offers to back Pozzi in a rematch. Up to this point, the movie is strange, but plausible. We could be in David Mamet country. But the story, based on a novel by Paul Auster, has a stranger destination in mind.
The two men arrive at the gates of a mysterious country estate occupied by two old friends, Mr. Flower (Charles Durning) and Mr. Stone (Joel Grey). They are jolly and genial hosts, so cheerful indeed that there seems something the matter with them. They agree to a poker game, after first taking the visitors on a tour of their house, which contains an elaborate scale model of their corner of the world, and even little figures representing Stone and Flower. This model, which the movie never quite explains, works because it is left mysterious: Not knowing its function, we are ready to attribute anything to it.
The game proceeds. Pozzi, backed by Nashe, loses again.