Paul Giamatti once again proves he is the perfect Regular Guy in “Win-Win,” a comedy-drama about an elderly-care attorney who tries to pocket a few thousand dollars by pretending to play guardian to one of his clients (Burt Young, always “Paulie” to me). See, Mike Flaherty is barely sliding by financially. When the old man’s previously unknown teenage grandson (Alex Shaffer) shows up unannounced, things get complicated. Amy Ryan is Mike’s wife, and Bobby Cannavale plays the best pal, a guy so far in the closet, he’s hiding under the Christmas decorations. Director/co-writer Thomas McCarthy made two good films with “Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” but here he scores a home run. The drama is set on low, the comedy is pure human folly. When the old man’s estranged drug-addicted daughter (Melanie Lynskey) appears, we learn she is just as scarred as anyone else. Many laughs come from Mike’s stint as a wrestling coach, a sport the boy is quite apt at. Giamatti again creates a man who you want to see succeed but love watching fail, thinking, “That could be me.” A-
I love movies that thrill, challenge, move and excite me, no matter their genre, origin, year of creation, or language. I detest being pandered to and insulted, or blinded by glitz. For the sport of writing I will keep my reviews to 200 words or less. Not always, but for the most part. Some films demand a long response, be they great, bad, or simply baffling. I am a writer by trade, and if I cannot be precise, I need to be silent. Also know this: I do not turn my brain off or leave my brain at the door when I watch a movie, I have plenty of time to not think after I die. Hope you enjoy, even if you disagree.
And ... The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Apartment (1960), Apocalypse Now (1979), Badlands (1973), Blue Velvet (1986), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Conversation (1974), Die Hard (1988), Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), A Face in the Crowd (1957), The French Connection (1971), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Goodfellas (1990), The Incredibles (2004), L.A. Confidential (1997), Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), Memento (2001), Miller's Crossing (1990), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Pan's Labyrinth (2006), The Producers (1968), Ran (1985), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Strangers on a Train (1951), The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Toy Story (1995), Tree of Life (2011), Unforgiven (1992), The Wages of Fear (1953)