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Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) challenges the system and defies conventional wisdom when his is forced to rebuild his small-market team on a limited budget. Despite opposition from the old guard, the media, fans and their own field manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Beane - with the help of a young, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist (Jonah Hill) - develops a roster of misfits…and along the way, forever changes the way the game is played.
It's amazing that Moneyball makes baseball statistics seem fascinating--but that's because it's not really a movie about numbers, and it's not really a movie about baseball, either. It's about what drives people to take risks--in this instance, Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland A's, who's just had his best players poached by teams that can afford to pay a lot more. Fed up with how money twists the game, he listens to Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who persuades him that certain players are being undervalued for trivial reasons--that statistics reveal hidden strengths that could, when used in the right combinations, produce a winning season. Beane takes Brand's advice, then has to fight everyone else around him to follow it through. Moneyball skillfully takes the audience into Beane's psyche. Pitt is in excellent form; it's an understated but magnetic performance, the kind that rarely wins awards but should. Pitt has the physical presence of a former athlete and vividly expresses the mind of a man who's never achieved success but isn't ready to give up. Director Bennett Miller (Capote) shapes the supporting cast (Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and others less recognizable but just as solid) as carefully as Beane shapes his team. Miller has a few flashy (and highly effective) moments of sound manipulation and editing, but Moneyball is carried by its superb performances. --Bret Fetzer
Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game
Moneyball: Playing The Game
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Top Customer Reviews
But then, I was going to iPic to see a movie, which was sold out, and I don't even remember what it was, and this movie was playing just at that time and frankly, i didn't even bother to see what movie it was, I just heard 'Brad Pitt' and I was like 'Yes, please.' And really, 'Moneyball'? How am I supposed to guess it's a sports movie, right?
So, I was there. I watched it. Hooked from the first few minutes, really. Maybe it's because I like math and it's as much a math movie as it is a baseball movie. Well, it's not, but let's pretend it is. There is a line in the movie about baseball that I wouldn't have gotten before I saw this movie. Billy Beane says, "How can you not get romantic about baseball?" If you had told me that this line was said in a sports movie in a non-self-mocking way, I would have snorted and dismissed the comment. But now, I kinda get it.
Kinda. Frankly, I still go to the games to watch the stretching and to eat garlic fries and Dippin' Dots. Woohoo! But now, I acknowledge the possibility that there might be other reasons why people might go.
As to the "what about the movie?!?" portion of this review -
So, Billy Beane hires Peter, an economics wiz from Yale (and apparent Baseball Fanatic) to help him put together a team that doesn't completely suck on a shoestring budget. And that's what they do. In a tremendous overkill type way.
* I dislike Jonah Hill in virtually all of his movies. When I saw him in this movie, I realized that I had been wrong. It was the characters in his other movies that I hated. Jonah Hill himself is (apparently) a fine actor and was brilliant in this role as a high-functioning geek (FYI: High-functioning geeks are much like high-functioning sociopaths but with fewer manners and with less of the complete lack of morality).
* Brad Pitt was also amazing. He was not in anyway heart-throb-y, which made him all the more heart-throb-y in my book. I mean, how can you not like a guy who turns down a bajillion dollars because he is loyal to his loser-ish team and because he doesn't want to leave the state that houses his daughter? Nice, right? Yah. I thought so as well.
* Amazing acting by supporting roles, not the least of which being the greatly missed Philip Seymour Hoffman.
* Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy fame also makes an appearance as Scott Hatteberg in one of the more touching scenes in the movies. Here again, was an example where I was surprised by the depth of a performance by an actor I had pretty much written off as a character actor, mainly put in to movies for laughs. My bad on that one, Chris. Oh, and Jonah. You both rocked it in this movie. In serious roles, yet. Kudos.
* The amazingly talented Robin Wright has not had luck in finding movie or roles that best display her talents, and this was another one. Brilliant movie but she was under-used as the ex-wife of Billy Beane.
* Music soundtrack not the best. An amusing song (fictionally authored) by Billy Beane's daughter aside. On the other hand, this wasn't a movie where the soundtrack was pivotal (unlike say, in any superhero movie made, ever), so I give it a pass.
*Not a lot of baseball players stretching on screen, which was kind of a let down for me since this was, in fact, a *baseball* movie. And, as mentioned previously, one of the two reasons I go to games in the first place. Hmmm.....
All-in-all an excellent film. Great for sports-lovers and sports-meh-ers alike. As to the rating (for those who are sensitive to those things), there are some obscenities which is why this is PG13, but it was in keeping with the locker-room setting of the movie and so entirely appropriate. At no point did I roll my eyes and say 'Ah! The f-bomb. That must indicate the character is tough / angry / hungry / under 25, etc.' I have a pet peeve about gratuitous swearing being used in place of actual dialog. That was not the case in this movie.
It is impossible to cite specific indivduals for the excellence of this film because the collaborative efect is so spectacular that one almost fails to notice. This film is based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis (Norton & C0) but then, in a moment of brilliance, by executive producer, Scott Rudin, the screenplay was as mentioned, written by Aaron Sorkin and the remarkable Steven Zaillan. The screenplay is flawless and one can tell that there was very little- if any- improvised lines in the filming. There is a musical fluidity to the speach and soundtrack that line up flawless;ly, almost as if the two playwrites and fim composer, Mychael Danna, were all in one brain with a clear view off the final edit. The score is spectacular and Danna is not the only one responsible. The entire music department- including and additional composer- has created a musical masterpiece to sync with all else.
Christopher Tellefsen's film editing is so beautiful, masterful and- yes, as the film teaches us- manipulative that even the most rugged 55 year old man will find a lump in his throat at times. But Bennett Miller, director, gets the credit for it all as the man with the final say and the man who, along with the written word, pulled these moving and remarkable performances out of some remarkable veteran actors. Brad Pitt has established himself as a serious actor here, though had he not been so remarkably attractive and half naked in "Thelma and Louise" the world would have seen it there. As a fourty-four year old man, divorced with a 13 year old daughter we see the sincere emotions that tug at the inside of his soul. He has a passion for baseball and at age 18 gave up a Scholarship at Stanord to sign with The New York Mets; a first draft pick that lasted only one season. Now he is the General Manager o the Oakland A's during the 2002 season and it is his intent to change baseball. He does this with the help of the very gifted actor, Jonah Hall by using statistical data to create a low budget baseball club, something for which everyone thinks is insane, particularly the team manager, played by the legend Phillip Seymour hofman in yet another dazling character performance. Pitt plays Billy Beane, a man pulled in many directions: baseball, his past, and his undying devotion to his daughter (expertly played by the miraculous Kerris Dorsey who twice in the film exhibts a singer-singwriter talent for her father perfformed by her without the use of studio fixing or embelishment- a true talent.) who, it turns out, delivers the most remarkable wisdom that the film offers. Her acting is something we haven;t sen from a 13 year old since Jpodie Foster did "Taxi Driver." This credit is indeed shared with Miller's direction, who clearly explained many adult and kid situations rather than the Hollywood tradition of cute, crying wide eyes children. In fact, the scenes between her and Pitt are some of the films most powerful. Still, I must mention Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Brent Jennings and- in a small but powerful performance, Diane Behrens, first amazing us in 1989 wit the film adaptation of Bob Woodward's "Wired." Her time on screen is so short; she has few lines and all in flashback memory (she plays Beane's mother) but what this woman conveys with her face and eyes is on a par with Meryl Streep.Arliss Howard, as the owner of the Boston red Sox, gives a remarkable eight minute performance filmed on location at Fenway Park-doing character work unlike anything he's done before.
Most of us take the Director of Photography for granted, but, as with "Out Of Africa" this is one where we must pause. Wally Pfister has created a myriad of images that capture bnoth granduer and subtlety using angles, lighting, weather, composition in ways that are rarely seen on film.
All of these elements, and many many more, come together to create a masterpiece of film. It will entertain and move you with one watch. That won't satisfy you. You will return, as most people do with Sorkin's writing, and you will begin to notice details in every department that you had;t seen previously. In an era when most of what Hollywood is producing is mindless special effect fantasy and Comic Book dreck, this is more exciting, more moving and more artistic than any film I have seen this decade.
At this price, buy the thing. No matter what. For baseball fans this will be a vertible orgasmic event- better than the 86 world series.
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