Sunday, October 02, 2011

"Moneyball" (2011) - Movie Review

Almost all the time I have the regret of not having a perfect reply or a conversation or the right scenario set up for a likable outcome in decisions and results in my day to day events as it does in film scripts. Before you say the obvious and what you think, I am aware of that and despite that you wish as you always wish for the impossible. A transition, transformation or epiphany comes through a process of accumulation and assimilation of events and thoughts in actual life. Decisions made, mistakes redeemed and simply moving on happens like that and when a film reminds that and provides that in the end, you feel part of the movie and the merging of it with your life makes the experience, an experience. “Moneyball” provides that with a scene in the end when Billy Beane played by Brad Pitt has to make a decision.

I know the skeletal of the baseball game. I have the faintest idea of the teams, players, lingoes and everything that makes that game like any other sport to have a passionate, fanatic and entertaining fans. That might amplify the experience of “Moneyball” but it does not diminish the core fundamental of the film. Oakland Athletics are small team playing in a sport that is dictated by cash like any other sports. Billy Beane is the GM of the team begging like any other person in that situation would want, more money to spend and get some star players he just lost. He sits at the table with old boys putting forth their replacements providing their own projections than a facilitation for better players. Along with Billy we realize that he is sitting in a prehistoric era. Now we know but Billy amongst the crowd realizes it when he sees the game in the eye and extracts the brutality of it. Money wins, the game is unfair in coming to terms of having a fair advantage of building a team with others. He has to go back to the cave and come back with a computer to make miracle.

Brad Pitt is an actor who consistently surprises and has thoroughly branded himself. A brand of high expectations when he chooses a film to participate. He has consistently delivered and here he does it again. This is the kind of actor the film industry needs. You see these similar characteristic in Edward Norton, Christian Bale and now Ryan Gosling. Pitt out here was in the danger being mummified like Tom Cruise but he tore through it to create an identity beyond his looks. He goes for roles that clearly has an opportunity to see more sides of him. Here he is Billy Beane, subdued, calculated and as normal as you and me. His spur of anger is even methodical wherein it is unlike the character but you can empathize with the man.

Directed by Bennett Miller, it is a film I would greatly like for to be done for the game of cricket. I hope some aspiring film maker reads this and dig this gold mine of a territory for plethora of films to be made. The behind the scene of cricket would be nothing short of a crazy drama to riveting entertainment to a bloody thriller as the game is such that. Miller out here is out for a serene experience of a film in the most nerve wracking position the main players were in for. Beane is desperate for out of the box thinking and mainly seeing through it successfully. He reflects on his life where he got recruited right out of high school by the New York Mets to jump over education at Stanford on full scholarship. We understand that he as every one of us needs a win but Miller is not for the win as Beane.

There is something more than a game or a trophy or a record. Every avenue in the existence of the world needs an invention and a revolution. Here it is through the statistical analysis of putting a team together. It seems so simple and obvious that it surprises me that they never resorted to this idea in first place. The post game analysis for any sport goes into great detail on minute dissection and they do not use the same for selecting players? I think the politics goes deeper than the numbers.

“Moneyball” has Jonah Hill as Peter Brand, the key man Beane hires to believe in this methodology. The methodology of having objectivity over subjectivity. Hill unlike his all other roles comes off clean, shy but regardless charming. This pudgy guy with an economics degree from Yale adores the mathematics of the game than the game itself. His scenes with Brad Pitt are constructed with a chemistry that does not undermine his performance nor does boast Pitt’s. Seeing “Moneyball” I was reminded by another terrific backstage sports film “The Damned United” which eyes on a man blinded by his ego and there again is another pudgy man as his right hand man helping him to see come out of the fiasco in the end. Beane is though has his way of dealing things. He sees this as a business of play and the players are investments that will be cut off as the need arises. He stays away from them to make the firing process painless but it never is.

You can tell a film is being done with great professionalism and care when the supporting characters, every one of them get their screen time with great importance and precision. Philip Seymour Hoffman has nothing to prove but he does dutifully the role of Art Lowe as the coach unwilling to believe in Beane’s method and suggestion. Then is Chris Pratt as Scott Hatteberg wondering what this second chance is all about and is in fear of failing it. The small roles in one scene is all enough. Robin Wright as Beane’s ex-wife Sharon, Casey played with maturity and adorability by Kerris Dorsey and several others which you have to see. The writing is by Steve Zailian followed by Aaron Sorkin while the original story was formulated by Stan Chervin based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. It is not uncommon to see several re-writes of a script and here the conversations and actions are casual in the seriousness. It is a director’s film and the writers sees through that it stays that way.

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