SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl reviews “The Company Men” (R) starring Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones, plus “Barney’s Version” (R) starring Paul Giamatti.

KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl

Ben Affleck turns in another strong, believable performance, anchoring “The Company Men,” the story of one year in the life of three men trying to survive corporate downsizing. Through Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper, we experience how this layoff economy impacts them, their families, and their community.

Also look for Kevin Costner in a small but important role.

The difference between this and dreary depressing stories like “Somewhere” and “Blue Valentine” is that here we connect and invest in these guys. We’re ready to take the journey with them as they reinvent and redefine their lives.

Three hats, and a hat full of relief that Hollywood can still turn out dramas that can touch our hearts, give us people worth making movies about, and even leave us with a little hope.

“Barney’s Version,” based on the Mordecai Richler novel, is the tale of a man looking back over his life with regret, humor and bitterness.

Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Dustin Hoffman add terrific support, but the movie revolves totally around Paul Giamatti. As good an actor as Giamatti is, his character is so self-centered and lost, it’s hard to understand why Pike and Driver would want to spend their lives with this guy.

It’s an interesting journey, but will play fine on DVD.

Two-and-a-half hats.

Other suggestions to see right now: “The King’s Speech,” “Made in Dagenham,” and “Inside Job.”

DVD/Home Video suggestions: “The Social Network,” The Chuck Jones Collection,” “Stone,” “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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