Win some, lose some

Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer in Win Win
Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer in Win Win

IT is often said that the only people who continue to make money even in a recession are the lawyers but the exception may be in characters who are played by Paul Giamatti, an actor who specialises in amiable angst.

In Win Win (Cert 15) he is smalltown New Jersey attorney Mike Flaherty struggling to make ends meet as he is reduced to relying on picking up the odd court-appointed client.

Los Ojos de Julia 'Belen Rueda in C

Los Ojos de Julia 'Belen Rueda in C

One of them, widower Leo (Burt Young) is in the early stages of dementia but alert enough to fight the state’s attempt to put him in a care home rather than let him stay in his own house. Mike persuades the court to appoint him legal guardian in the absence of any contactable relatives after discovering it comes with a $1,500 monthly fee which he pockets while packing off the old boy to a residential home.

He believes it to be an arrangement that benefits everyone but things become complicated when Leo’s grandson, Kyle, turns up, followed later by the boy’s neglectful mother, demanding her share of her dad’s cash.

Win Win is an amusing and heart-warming tale but the problems it throws up are a little too easily resolved to have wider resonance about the effects or indeed family relations. Tattoed punk-haired Kyle (Alex Shaffer) turns out to be a bit of a sweetie and, even better, a champion wrestler who revives the fortunes of the team of losers that Mike is training.

Although sharing the downbeat humanity of writer-director Tom McCarthy’s previous films, The Station Agent and The Visitor, it doesn’t quite pack the same punch.

The star of Spanish spinechiller The Orphanage, Belen Rueda is in peril again in the title role of another spooky Hispanic tale, Julia’s Eyes (Cert 15).

It begins with Julia finding her twin sister hanging from a beam and becoming suspicious of the general conclusion that it was suicide, although her husband ((Lluis Homar) and the police dismiss her fears as paranoia.

Both siblings shared a degenerative eye disease leading to blindness and the stress triggers an acceleration in Julia’s condition. As her world begins to darken, a menacing shadowy figure appears in the periphery of her increasingly blurry vision but are her eyes playing tricks?

Blindness has proved a rich source of terror down the years, and director Guillem Morales certainly creates a creepy atmosphere with shadowy settings where either the lights never seem to be working or it’s pouring with ran, but the film is ultimately undone by plot contrivances and implausibilities. At times Julia seems hellbent on inviting danger which is more irritating than hair-raising’

The big film of the week is, of course, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D (Cert 12A), the fourth instalment of the comedy adventure saga on the high seas.

A lazily-plotted, confusing tale which sends Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow on a quest for the Fountain of Youth which brings him into conflict with legendary villain Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and an old flame, mistress of disguises Angelica (Penelope Cruz).

There is little to be said for it, which won’t stop Disney coining it in.