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Luck - Season 1 (HBO) [Blu-ray]  [Region Free]
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HBO presents this provocative original series set in the worlds of horseracing and gambling. Created and executive produced by David Milch (Deadwood), legendary director Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies) and Carolyn Strauss, this one-hour drama series centers on Chester 'Ace' Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), an intuitive tough guy with a long history in dirty pool. Recently released after three years in prison, Ace and his longtime chauffeur (Dennis Farina) craft a complex plan to reverse the sagging fortunes of a California racetrack. Meanwhile, four dissolute gamblers at the track pool their resources in an effort to win an elusive Pick Six bet while a weathered trainer (Nick Nolte) sees a second chance in an untested thoroughbred. The stellar cast also includes: John Ortiz, Richard Kind, Kevin Dunn, Jason Gedrick, Ritchie Coster, Ian Hart, Tom Payne, Kerry Condon and Jill Hennessy.
Billed as the complete first season boxset, but in fact the only season the show is going to get, Luck was cut short by issues with the production that were well-reported at the time. It’s a shame, too. While it takes the show a little while to build up, this is a weighty, serious piece of television drama, one that’s dripping with quality.
The star names certainly do it no harm. Dustin Hoffman takes the lead here as a man just released from prison, who decides to try and turn around a California-based racetrack. Immediately, Hoffman is magnetic too, portraying a character based boasting many shades of grey. Nick Nolte gets a juicy role, too, as a horse trainer desperately trying to find success.
Horse racing, and the gambling that surrounds it, proves to be rich pickings for Luck. It takes a lot of time to get things into place, and inevitably, some will be left a little cold by its patient approach. But it’s a complex drama that it’s building up here, with lots of characters, and several narratives at work.It’s quality, ambitious television, on a disc released backed with substantive extra features. On top of commentary tracks, there are some interesting behind the scenes documentaries to digest here. It’s a rounded, carefully crafted package, for a show that deserves the attention. --Jon Foster See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Luck certainly follows this pattern. The first few episodes left me reeling, desperately trying to piece together character motivations and backgrounds through their sparse yet convoluted interactions. The sheer number of characters, as well as the reliance on the kind of language found on and around the racetrack, meant I struggled at first to get to grips with things. Then, all of a sudden, it just clicked. There was a moment, and I couldn't say when exactly, when I realised that the dialogue should just be allowed to unfold, to just let it wash over you; what you pick up, you pick up, and anything you miss you can usually piece together yourself anyway. Emotions are often conveyed simply through characters' facial expressions and how they behave around one another. The fact that Ace and Gus, arguably the show's two main anchors, often fall asleep at night in one another's company after discussing business is a prime example of Luck's 'show, don't tell' approach. It is incredibly layered and nuanced in this respect.
This has, of course, turned a lot of people away from the show. Others claim that it is far too slowly paced, or that 'nothing ever happens'. This is simply not true. There is always the sense that something is going on, even if you don't quite know what.Read more ›
Luck is an exceptionally well-crafted and immensely stylish story which intertwines the narratives of a number of different character groupings (each individually compelling) to culminate in a completely resolved and satisfying tale about the rich variety of types associated with the American Horse Racing community. This is a rich subset of U.S. culture and we get to see how the whole complex race track world operates, high and low. A huge, commercial business comprised of many strata, in broad terms the Racing Community falls into the horse people and the gamblers. It turns out that horses and graft make for a heady mix and the character of the series is defined by the particular aesthetic evolved out of this. You don't need to know anything about the scene going into it to enjoy what is revealed.
Indeed, initially the complexities of some of the betting combined with the unfamiliar racing lingo left me slightly unsure as to what was going on at points, but if you just go with it, you find it doesn't matter because the narrative action isn't dependent upon the technicalities the characters themselves are involved with. The emotional sense informing character behaviour is beautifully delineated and dramatically involving; providing your handle on what's happening --as you would expect from this calibre of production.Read more ›
And after watching this beautifully-crafted series I prefer the four "degenerate gamblers" to the "upper crust" of the wealthy and the criminal who cluster around Santa Anita racetrack, including Dustin (dependable as always), Dennis Farina (brilliantly funny) - but "the old man" Nick Note delivers the class performance. He and his horse - and all the horses, have honour. As do the jockeys, among them a gritty performance from Gary Stevens - and trainer Turo Escalante, played by John Ortiz, nails it.
But the heart of this First (and only, unfortunately) Series is the four gamblers. Unlike the wealthy and the criminal, they care. For each other, for their horse, for the feelings of "Goose" - another rail bird who might train their horse - they care, and the way they conduct themselves is human. Winning the Pick6 is only the start of their journey. They are us.
Excellent photography, very sharp script, great performances from an ensemble cast - high art you can watch several times over and get more out of it each time.
It's a winner!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At first I thought this was all about horse racing and almost gave it a miss. I watched because Dustin Hoffman stared . Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gail
Dustin Hoffman never lets you down, it's always a full performance, believable, dramatic and never faulters on his part. Amazing !!!!!Published 9 months ago by sean bailey
hubby liked the horse racing setting. story was ok. can understand why it did not continue as it had nowhere to go with the plot.Published 20 months ago by weewummin
I watched the first disc thought it would be a bit of a slow burner. By the 2nd episode of disc 2 it just became repetitive and tired. Despite a strong cast the acting is weak.Published 22 months ago by Andrew Wallace
My partner and I really enjoyed this series even though we know nothing about horse racing. We did watch with the sub-titles on though as we couldn't understand a lot of what was... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jenny (South Africa)