Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Moneyball" is Money

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 2 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Moneyball (2011)
Running time: 133 minutes (2 hours, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some strong language
DIRECTOR: Bennett Miller
WRITERS: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; from a story by Stan Chervin (based upon Michael Lewis’s book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game")
PRODUCERS: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, and Brad Pitt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Christopher Tellefsen
COMPOSER: Mychael Danna


Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop, Brent Jennings, Ken Medlock, Nick Searcy, Glenn Morshower, Reed Thompson, and Kerris Dorsey

Moneyball is a 2011 sports drama and biographical film starring Brad Pitt. The film is a fictionalized version of events in the 2002 season of the Major League Baseball team, the Oakland Athletics (A’s). Moneyball follows the real-life A’s general manager (GM), Billy Beane, as he uses computer-generated analysis to field (or put together) a competitive and winning baseball team. The Moneyball movie is based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 book of the same name, and Oscar-winner Scott Rudin is also one of the film’s executive producers.

Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is upset that his team lost to the New York Yankees during the 2001 playoffs. The end of the 2001 season also means that several of the A’s star players are leaving to sign with other teams for much more money than the A’s are willing to or have the ability to pay. As GM, Beane is constrained by the lowest payroll in baseball, so he needs to find another competitive advantage. Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess a baseball player’s value and about how to put a team together. But this new approach is controversial, and as the A’s lose, the pressure mounts on Beane.

Acclaimed film and television writer, Aaron Sorkin wrote the third version of Moneyball’s screenplay. Sorkin also wrote The Social Network, for which he won an Academy Award. Like The Social Network, Moneyball is a film about someone who introduces something radical and controversial to an institution, in this case baseball, which everyone insists cannot be changed. Another thing Moneyball has in common with The Social Network is that Moneyball is also about a guy who goes out and makes something and does it as well as or better than other men that have many more resources than he has.

Director Bennett Miller (Capote) makes this story work as a film by focusing on Beane, and to a lesser extent Brand. Millers puts Beane’s struggles and the A’s ups and downs side by side. Separately, Beane and the A’s are compelling, but together, their story is exhilarating.

As Billy Beane, Brad Pitt gives one his more unusual performances. To sell this story, Pitt, as the lead character, does not rely on his star power or handsome looks. Indeed, whenever his “muscle-ly” arms make an appearance, they seem out of place. Pitt’s performance is subtle, quiet, and graceful. When Pitt needs to be intense, he is intense, so much so that I could feel it coming off the screen; however, Pitt delivers this intensity in an entirely non-intense way. I believed that Pitt was Billy Beane.

Of all the biographical sports dramas I’ve seen, Moneyball is like no other. This is a baseball movie for baseball people, but this is also a good movie for good movie people.

8 of 10

Friday, January 13, 2012

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