Win Win

As I promised in my review for Barney’s Version, I went out to see Win Win with my new found interest in Paul Giamatti.  He didn’t disappoint me either, supported by a network of rich characters.  Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent and The Visitor set me up for something spectacular.  Was it spectacular?  No, but it was entirely enjoyable and left me satisfied with a good concoction of humor and warm fuzzies.  It’s important to know that Win Win didn’t abandon common sense in order to contrive its feel-good moments.  It felt honest.  Tom McCarthy has demonstrated the ability to write in enough complexity and flaws into his characters to create sincere connections amongst his characters that don’t require cheap happy endings for warm fuzzies.

Jackie (Amy Ryan) is the wife of Mike (Paul Giamatti) and mother of two girls.  Rather than simply a sounding board to the central male protagonist, Jackie is a separate force of spunk and integrity.  Leo (Burt Young) and Terry (Bobby Cannavale) are delightful side characters that offer lots of comic relief in the somber story of ordinary folk.  Kyle (Alex Shaffer), a troubled teenage boy, falls into the hands of Mike, a struggling small town attorney and an even worse-off high school wrestling coach.  As anticipated by the trailers, Kyle turns out to be a remarkable wrestler.  As exciting as wrestling can be (I have no idea what that feels like), this movie isn’t the one to showcase its awesomeness.  It’s not really about the sport, or the game.  In other words, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a heroic showdown of squirming prepubescent boys.  Overall, a pretty good film.  Do you need to go see it?  No, but if you’ve got a few dollars around and would like to treat yourself for a couple hours, go on ahead… $7

Recommendations from Yolkie:

The Station Agent
Sideways
The Fighter

Barney’s Version

An epic character piece on a whiskey-drinking, cigar-smoking, droopy-eyed curmudgeon we frequently see played by Paul Giamatti. While Giamatti is an actor that has won the hearts of many, he hadn’t won my affection until I saw this movie.  Somehow, even though it was pretty much the same role I’d seen him in before, he convinced me that he’s definitely worth following.  In fact, I’m really looking forward to Win Win.  Stellar supporting roles played by Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike.


What truly won me over was the strong female lead portrayed by Rosamund Pike.  One of the best female characters I’ve seen in years.  Wise, soulful, strong, and kind – and much too good for Barney.  All three wives are unbelievably out of his league, yet it can somehow works.  Good writing is rarely given to female roles.  Here, Pike’s character offered the most insightful and touching dialogue on the screen.

There isn’t too much of plot here.  We follow Barney’s three marriages.  Still, there are elements of suspense as an underlying murder mystery finds it’s way into the narrative.  And honestly, the colorful characters are complicated and endearing enough to hold ground for the film…$8

Yolkie’s recommendations:
Sideways
Little Children
The Station Agent

Somewhere

Somewhere illustrates how a movie star’s life can be just as dull as any regular asshole. Director Sofia Coppola has launched towards a downward trajectory of films that have become tedious to sit through.  Somewhere had a promising trailer, but it was a trick!  That Strokes song MADE the trailer, not a whole lot else to it.  After my experience with Marie Antoinette, I was not looking forward to this one, but I thought I would give Coppola one last chance.  And you blew it, Sofia.  I’m done with you.  Why?  You are asking me why I don’t want to see anymore of your painfully awful movies?  Because it is masturbatory nonsense you call art.  I don’t find anything interesting about lingering on each moment of this man’s excrutiatingly normal life.

Perhaps if there was a storyline or character to follow, there might be some meaningful connection to the movie.  But no, this movie lacked any kind of substance entirely.  At least Marie Antoinette was visually pleasing with all colorful costumes and food, in addition to an equally enchanting soundtrack .  Somewhere didn’t even have that going for it.  Instead we get to see Stephen Dorff with plaster covering his head for a good 30 seconds with nothing else to entertain us but heaving breathing.

Elle Fanning succeeded to win the audience with her youthful charm.  She did what she could with the role.  I would like to see more of her.  I don’t have anything to complain about Stephen Dorff’s performance, it wasn’t his fault that the writing was shit.  If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already gotten more than would you out of the movie… $3

If you heart Somewhere

Recommendations from Yolkie:
Marie Antoinette
Sideways
Lost in Translation

Please Give

O Nicole Holofcener! Another gem to add to your resume! Another worthy companion of Lovely & Amazing and Friends with Money.

I never knew what people saw in Amanda Peet. But I’m starting to get it now. Peet makes me crave neurotic women. Scary, orange women. Rebecca Hall is beautiful and level-headed as always. And Catherine Keener continues to get more gorgeous with age.

Cast and crew aside – you tackle some very interesting thematic territory. In a depression era, I’m excited to see someone interested in charity and excess. That is, grotesque charity and grotesque excess. If all your cruelty, spite, your mean-spirited sarcasm, your lack of pity, your warped sense of charity, your pessimism, your grim portrayal of aging, your grim portrayal of marriage & parenting, and your obsessive attention to the imperfections of the body made me laugh like a manic hyena – does that make me a bad person? No, I mean really laugh – mouth contorting, eyes tearing, balled-up fist slapping the thigh and such. I don’t think anything this year has tickled my funny bone this superbly. Maybe Greenberg. Nah, not even Greenberg.

But I’m not sure about the last scene. There’s a mixed message about money and I think you land on the amoral side (i.e. if you have money that’s great because you don’t have to eat TV dinners, and it’s okay to buy yourself some happiness i.e. $200 jeans). I guess I don’t mind the message so much but why end there? Why end on a point so blatantly derelict? Don’t get me wrong – you are thoroughly un-PC the whole journey and I love you for it. I’m just not sure in that last scene if you’re still interested in parody or if you’re trying to be sincere. Are you trying to be sincere? Sincerity is not your strength. Maybe you were short on ideas and decided to reach for the nearest cathartic experience. I don’t blame you. You never claimed to have all the answers. A lot of fantastic films get fatigued at the end and just can’t finish. Just look at Eyes Wide Shut. Or A.I. And Stanley Kubrick was the greatest director who ever lived!

All in all I have to say I’m impressed that movies like you are getting made . . . $9

If you heart Please Give:

Recommendations by DJ Cheet
The Savages
Sideways
Broken Flowers

And though it’s not a movie . . . How to be Good (book) by Nick Hornby.

%d bloggers like this: