Paul Giamatti Does It Again

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There was a time when we weren’t inundated with advertising for movies and TV shows. Word of mouth was very valuable, and even though that’s still the case, it’s rare that people see movies they know absolutely nothing about, right?  Time when you could read an article in the paper (who does that anymore anyway) where someone used a phrase like “Once in a while, a little film comes along that…” and there was no reason to believe that the author was being ironic or bribed. Those days are gone. Movies are machines; great huge behemoths whose production costs could annihilate small countries’ debt, and it takes so long to get one made that most of you reading this blog have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into long before you set foot at the cineplex.

But I’ve managed to find a really sharp little movie that I think you just might love.

If you’re even marginally undecided about what to see next …if you have even a shadow of curiosity when it comes to a recommendation, allow me to direct you to an indie flick that packs a really cool wallop. I’ve mentioned it before but now that I’ve seen it and lots and lots of people whom I respect  (but who don’t always agree with me) have too and they love it, I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.

Because Win Win is just plain the kind of fabulous little movie that’s hard to quantify, tricky to describe, and beyond gratifying to watch.

Run, don’t walk – or drive, don’t cycle, or whatever the equivalent is – and see it if you can. Win Win is Tom McCarthy’s latest effort (he also made The Station Agent and The Visitor). Matter of fact, this Tom McCarthy isn’t just a writer and director – you’ve seen him in lotsa movies and TV too (Meet The Parents, Boston Public).

Win Win is ostensibly the story of a lawyer and a family man, played by Paul Giamatti who decides to act as a ward to an elderly man in order to make a few extra bucks. He also coaches a very bad wrestling team. Enter the elderly man’s grandson into the picture and everything starts to go a little haywire. Or, as “haywire” as anything can go when everything else is as subtle and nuanced as any movie you’ll see this year. The acting is terrific (both Giamatti and Oscar-nominee Amy Ryan turn in bravura performances – and the kid is totally amazing).  It’s a story about what could happen to any ordinary family, and it’s also hilarious; the kind of thing where you leave wondering how McCarthy could make such a small story so incredibly affecting. Also absent is the pulling of heartstrings which we so often have with domestic comedies (that’s not to say you won’t be pulled in seventeen different directions, or get a lump in your throat from time to time).

From a cocktail-party perspective, you’re also probably going to want to have caught this flick because believe you me it will get lots of attention come awards season. It’s a little film but you may just thank People’s Choice in December when all the nominees get bandied about and you get to say “Oh yeah…I saw Win Win about a million years ago. You haven’t seen it yet??” That’s what you can say because this one is genuinely worth it.  It may not be the best film of the year, but in terms of quality, smart writing, and great acting, it’s going to be right up there.

Today’s poll:

Paul Giamatti stars in the film Win Win. Which of the actor’s other roles is your favorite:

1)   Cinderella Man

2)    John Adams

3)    Private Parts

4)    Sideways

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