Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moneyball is Home Run!

Moneyball (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Bennett Miller (Capote)
Written by Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The American President)
Starring: Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill

I wanted to see this movie when it was out in theaters, but no one would go see this with me.  They missed out!  I do not know why this film was not a hit.  The story is about America's past time, baseball, and it stars Brad Pitt.  While I am a baseball fan, I am a Yankees fan, and I honestly did not know or remember the story of the 2002 Oakland A's and their General Manager Billy Beene.

Moneyball is the story of the Oakland A's and their General Manager Billy Beene.  In 2001 the A's lost in the postseason to the New York Yankees,I remember being happy.  This was post September 11th and the Yankees winning was a symbolic win.  At the time of this playoff game the A's had three clutch player Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen.  After the A's lost they lost each of these players-Damon to the Red Sox, Giambi to the Yankees, and Isringhausen to the St, Louis Cardinals, because each player was a free agent.  After the season ended the A's General Manager Billy Beene (Brad Pitt) went to Cleveland to try and negotiate to get a stellar team.  The problem is that unlike the New York Yankees and many other ball clubs is that the A's do not have as much money to spend on players.  While in Cleveland Beene meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) a Yale educated economist who convinces Beene to use a different strategy to beat dynamic in baseball.  Beene and Brand's strategy is met with a lot of opposition, including head coach Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

Bennet Miller's precise direction makes this more than a film about a team or even a specific baseball game.  This film tackles an issue the plagued baseball for many years, teams that paid for their teams so they could be winning ball clubs.  Like within his film Capote, Miller uses autobiographical material to tell an intricate tale about a man who works to understand things on a deeper level.  Miller's direction is complemented well by the brilliant screenplay from Zaillian and Sorkin who weave real life images into their work.  These men are two of the best screenwriters working today, and it is no surprise that their collaboration has yielded one of the best scripts this year.

The words on the page are given life but strong performances from Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Pitt has grown as an actor throughout the years, and as he takes on roles like this one, and The Tree of Life it is great to see him flex acting muscles he has never shown before.  Hill always plays someone who provides cheap laughs, but in this role he not only makes you laugh a little, but his acting grounds Pitt.  This is the best role Hill has ever had and I am glad to see him challenging himself.  Pitt and Hill have a terrific dynamic on screen, their teamwork appears effortless.  I would like to see them work together more.  Hoffman, who has worked with Miller before; he won an Oscar for his starring role in Capote, displays, albeit brief, an evolution of understanding the game of baseball.

The film made me smile, laugh, cry.  I hit every emotion in the two hours.  There is something to be said about how infectious this film can be.  The movie uses sports as a metaphor for life, and knocks it out the park with a grand slam.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

saw the movie last night...great story and it proves what you can really do with heart and soul rather than a lot of money.