That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

Win Win

Sunday, October 16th, 2011 4:54 pm—Film

Win Win (USA 2011, Comedy/Drama), Writer/Director: Thomas McCarthy

If Win Win were a flavour at Cold Stone Creamery, it would have bits of Napoleon Dynamite, a few chunks of Gummo and a healthy dollop of Sideways, all folded into its sweet, salty, deliciously hilarious, only-somewhat acquired taste.

Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is Win Win’s delightfully woebegone protagonist, a struggling lawyer and volunteer high school wrestling coach who’s taken up jogging to manage his stress and ethical compromise to manage his finances. As he flails about trying to reset his moral compass (he’s a good guy, at heart) and dealing with the consequences of his less-than-dignified choices—all the while leading the local youth wrestling team to victory (or at least to not being disqualified)—we’re treated to a slew of real, flawed, ticklishly funny characters. Notable mentions include his soon-to-be-divorcé pal and personal thermal device Terry (Bobby Cannavale), his needy assistant coach Stephen (Jeffrey Tambor), his steadfast wife Jackie (Amy Ryan), his prize new wrestler and unexpected houseguest Kyle (Alex Shaffer) and his even more woebegone team of seasoned last-place wrestlers.

I loved this movie from the very first shot. How could it go wrong with runners in the autumn woods? Then a stained glass ornament slips (presumably not for the first time) off the window, and Mike’s young daughter finds it broken and mutters a curse under her breath. My kinda dysfunctional movie-family.

At its heart, Win Win is a beautiful, simple story about real life and redemption, with enough bursts of flavour to crack you up along the way. Some of those bursts are among the funniest I’ve ever tasted, particularly Mike’s panic attack during a run and one of the young wrestlers’ unorthodox alternative to not losing. (Win Win, it should be noted, contains the best piece of sports advice in history, and it’s worth seeing the film just to find out what that is.)

Best of all, Win Win won’t give you brain freeze. Now that’s some good ice cream…

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Thank you MG for suggesting Win Win, thank you GR for hooking it up with Netflix, and thank you both for a fabulous pre-birthday birthday dinner. Can’t wait for the next dinner/movie/non-book club. 🙂

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