(In theaters, March 2003) From the first few frames, it’s obvious that Poolhall Junkies tries to be very very cool. It often tries too hard, but that’s a common enough flaw in movies by a rookie actor/writer/director. In this case, Gregory ‘Mars’ Martin (or is it “Mars Callahan”?) turns out a film that’s a lot of fun to watch despite small flaws here and there. For one thing, this is a film about pool. Yes, billiard. There have been other movie on that theme before (and they’ll all come to mind during this film) but for fans of the sport, this alone makes this film essential. A celebration of hustling in all of its forms, Poolhall Junkies is a not-entirely-successful blend of genre (some parts seem taken from American Pie, crime thrillers, romantic comedies and sport dramas) but the rewards offered by the film are numerous, including a fantastic cameo by Christopher Walken and some very cool pool tricks. The rest of the acting talent is a mixture between the old pros (Chazz Palminteri and Rod Steiger in a tiny role) and newcomers with things to learn from the pros. Some moments are, for lack of a better expression, too self-consciously cool –with unintentionally amusing results. (“I’m going to get my brother!”) This won’t matter much for an audience looking for new independent films, pool coolness or a diverting time out: Poolhall Junkies will fit the bill. Don’t miss it; it’s an update of classic pool material by a filmmaker exhibiting considerable promise.