secure enough in my sexuality to admit to man-crushing on certain actors – guys
who I think are the shit, have all of the goods, and should be way bigger than
they are. And somewhere in my top 10, you’ll find Johnny Messner. This
gravelly-voiced stud has been flittering about the margins for years either in
small roles in underloved flicks (Spartan, Running Scared) or
starring roles in career-damaging shite (Anacondas: The Hunt for The Blood Orchid,
of the Sun
). At a time when Hollywood
seems kind of lacking in “manly man” leading men, you’d think a guy with the
voice of Lance Henriksen and the looks of a matinee idol could do better. Maybe
it’s his luck. If so, he’s doubly-screwed when it comes to his latest flick, an
indie-ensemble piece about a small-stakes poker game that goes horribly awry.

The Poker Club is about a group of friends who
are enjoying their weekly poker night when a burglar arrives. They accidentally
kill him, but then must deal with the aftermath including the fact that the
burglar may have had company. Sharing the screen with Messner are Johnathon “Your
spell checker sucks dicks in hell” Schaech, Judy Reyes (Scrubs), and Loren “Hey,
remember when I was the next big thing? No?” Dean. You wouldn’t know from the
way I framed it, but Schaech is actually the star as he’s producing the film
through his very own Chesapeake Films banner.

I doubt
Johnny has anything to worry about given the company, and because it’s a about
a normal poker game, we probably won’t be treated to ridiculous Casino
-esque scenes where we see a flush, two fullhouses, and a
straight flush in the same hand. Aside from Rounders, Hollywood has yet to
capture the beauty of this maddeningly sublime card game on film, and I don’t
know if the number of poker-themed flicks yet to come will change that. This is
more about the unscrupulous choices of average Joes, which puts this more in
the company of the Mario Van Peebles/Kevin Dillon thriller Stag or Christian Slater’s
Bad Things
, which are pretty much the same film anyway.