This is a terrific film. The inside, tricks of the trade of the gambler are depicted with such realism that I forgot I was watching a movie. Yonkers Joe, played to perfection by Chazz Palminteri can minipulate cards and dice in order to make himself win -- I would defy anyone to try and catch him. What's different about this story is Joe doesn't make a ton of money, he uses his skills to get by until something happens that drives his ambition. I wondered after seeing this movie, if I had ever been conned in this fashion, because I didn't think these types of skilled gamblers would waste their time on small money, back room VFW type poker games. But why not? These people don't care about showing off they just want your money. These are crooked characters who operate outside the law, but when performed and photographed with such honesty and meaning, I understood their motives and was drawn in by them. The story between Chazz and his son is truely moving. If the actor playing Chazz's son isn't really mentally challenged, he's surely the greatest actor on the planet and deserves an Oscar! This is the best movie I've seen all year. In you've ever played poker or shot craps, you have to see this movie.
Michael Lerner and Christine Lahti steal this movie, though Tom Guiry plays a convincing part as Joe's son. Yonkers Joe is the story of crime by deception and craft; some people would rather steal money by fixing a game than earn it through honest work outside the gambling life. A gamblers' greed always makes them a mark for a clever thief. That Joe's son has a handicap is relevant only to the side story of emotional family ties. This movie also shows what used to be possible in casinos, but isn't now. The real Fast Jack appears in a special features to tell us how he made his living in the old days. Well acted, and insightful in several ways.
Really enjoyed it. Chazz Palminteri was great as usual. Good movie. And Tom Guiry, "smalls" from the Sandlot was really great as well. Surprisingly good, actually. Too bad he works for a porn distributor now. "You're killing me, smalls!"