September 25, 2011 3 Comments

Baseball…Moneyball….Baseball….what defines the essence of America’s sport?  How it should be played? What makes it work—that is HOW does a team WIN?)  Such history forms the backdrop of the gripping story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics and general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) who redefined the parameters used to sculpt a winning team.  This is a wonderful movie about the guts of baseball, but has larger applications (who would have thought that a baseball movie would have implications about the essence and applicability of disciplinces such as psychoanalysis?).  Beane was a general manager of the financially challenged Oakland Athletics struggling in a league where super teams such as the New York Yankess and the Boston Red Socks seemed to purchase their places in baseball history?  Beane began to use various baseball metrics (with the assistance of a Yale-trained economist-baseball nerd played sweetly by Jonah Hill) to construct a hypothetical team within the financial limits of the team…if this sounds ho-hum boring it’s because the drama constructed by director Bennet Miller as the A’s race to overcome a losing record and (in fact) set the record for consecutive wins in a single season is poorly communicated in this review….Winsome Pitt and portly Jonah Hill click well on screen…Beane was in fact a REAL baseball player who never managed to realize his potential..Brad Pitt does a touching job of communicating the pathos of Beane’s own history…Philip Seymour Hoffman is the A’s manager, struggling to comprehend and adapt to the “new method”….Beane’s personal story is romanticized a bit..his decision at the end of the film(no need for spoiler alert, because I’m not revealing it) is a bit superficial given the trail provided for us as we try to understand the complexity of the man…Still it’s about BASEBALL…the Tigers are in the playoffs (what metrics did they use?)…this is a Must See Movie of the Fall!  Batter Up!    Jolyn Wagner


Must See Movie of the Week
3 Comments to “Moneyball”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    Yep, this one’s a hit! The acting by Pitt and Hill and the girl who plays Pitt’s daughter is excellent. It’s not clear that the use of the new baseball metric was the secret to the A’s success since Beane traded Carlos Pena to the Tigers and Jeremy Giambi (Jason’s little brother) to Philly. But weren’t they selected by the new method? Also, in one scene Beane blows a fuse in the locker room and uses a baseball bat not in the standard way! That seemed like old fashioned ass kicking!

    Many of us have thought at some point that we would become major league ball players, even if the dream ended in Little League! Then after striking out with the bases loaded or covering the wrong base, our dream turned to dust. Billy had great promise, but he never really made it as a player. OK, try your hand at philosophy…er, being a general manager! Maybe he’ll find success there, or did he?

    David Justice was married to Hallie Berry at one point. He could hit, but I think he also hit her! That scene with him in the batting cage makes me want to get back in there, too! Damn! I could’ve been a contender!

  2. Jolyn Welsh Wagner says:

    I agree that Beane’s baseball metrics were necessary but not sufficient to explain his team’s amazing season….the film is subtle about these interventions(Beane’s trading away Little Brother Giambi regardless of his metrics and his ability to “win over” David Justice) probably because they blurr the distintion between the old ways(gut reactions and less “meaningful” stats etc) and the new…but, hey, that’s life or baseball….there’s alot of nonverbal communication between Beane and Peter(Jonah Hill) which lends a sense of sincerity and reality to the film….here’s a question for those who do visit the ballpark and see the film….WHY was Beane sobbing?(sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t seen it yet)…and was the 2002 season inevitable given the method applied or just baseball magic???? Jolyn Wagner

  3. I saw and enjoyed this film and could enjoy it again and say thanks for these commentaries. Right or wrong, I remind you it’s a comedy. Poignant moments echo the theme of the nomadic professionals–pack your bags I’ve bought you from . . . you’ve been traded, ______ can help you with the details . . . is that all? uh, yes. And the Hill character–Pete?–is a palatable mental ubermensch supergeek in a film surrounded by films about the magic pill that removes your depression and jacks up your IQ by a factor of three–limitless, rise of planet of the apes, others I believe adding up to a choir, a Rocky for the decade in the sense of a daydream against feelings of inadequacy–is is Einstein or Churchill or someone else who says, “He has a great deal to be modest about” regarding a modest colleague? Oh that pill, oh that Yale edjamacation–a touching film with the Beane daughter the reviewer does us a service by calling our attenton to her. Is it fair to say she’s the point of view of the film, the true judge of value whose feelings matter? And that the impact of the unsophisticated ending, the voice message, results from it’s emotional honesty?

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