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Yonkers Joe Review


Good
Making a film about a scam artist is probably a lot like being one -- no matter how solid an idea seems, it's really all about the execution. The life of a cheat lends itself to high drama and conflict, but it can also be riddled with clichés. Throw in a mentally disabled son and a shot at the big score, and you've got a combination of storylines so obvious, they seem destined to fail. But Yonkers Joe doesn't fail. It's a spunky little indie that succeeds past its cheap conventions.

Both the credit and the blame go to writer-director Robert Celestino. His cornball plot shouldn't work, but his direction, especially with actors, does. Chazz Palminteri (Celestino's executive producer) is the title guy, a gambling stiff with an amazing ability to cheat crap games. He'll belly up to a table, pull some David Blaine-like moves to drop tainted dice into a game, and make a fortune. Unfortunately, Atlantic City security has his number, and private games are too small for his ambitions.

Continue reading: Yonkers Joe Review

Sam The Man Review


Bad
Gary Winick's first -- and biggest -- gaffe is in casting uber-nerd Fisher "Johnny Five!" Stevens as a slick lothario that beds countless women. Christening him "The Man" in the film's title is just adding insult to injury.

And so we come to the strange, sad, and rather crass case of Sam the Man, a creepy and just plain wrong romantic dramedy that's got no romance, few laughs, minimal drama, and a parade of hateful characters. Wrap them up in a cheap, out-of-focus, underlit, and inaudible package shot on cheap digital video, and the recipe for disaster is complete. Microwave on high for three minutes.

Continue reading: Sam The Man Review

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