Archive for September, 2011
Based on a true story Moneyball is the story of the Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and the challenge he faced in 2001 when three of his top players were traded to baseball teams with much deeper pockets. To field a winning ball team on such a limited budget seemed the impossible– that is until Beane met Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a financial and statistics guru. Together Brand and Beane reshaped the Oakland A’s into a statistically winning team. But, with years of beliefs and tradition influencing coaches, trainers, and the game itself, the big question remains how will the team do? Given the fact that if you follow baseball at all, there’s a good chance you already know how the film ends, the good news is, it’s still a fun and sometimes suspenseful ride getting there. The dynamics between Pitt and Hill come across as genuine, and as a pleasant break for the often type cast “goof ball” Hill. Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Manager Art Howe is pleasant but despiseable addition as well. Will the film stand the test of time as well as other classic sports films, it’s hard to say. In the meantime, Moneyball is certainly an interesting historical watermark and look at what a financial beast the game has become. Admittedly, the film does begin to feel a bit long as things start to wrap up, but it’s not majorly offensive in its length. A solid matinee for the family. Moneyball is rated PG-13.
A screenwriter out of Hollywood named David (James Marsden) and his wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) decide to move back to her tiny hometown in the deep South. The hope is that David will get the peace and quiet he needs to finish a screenplay he’s slaving over. But, when the couple hires a crew of locals to repair their barn trouble begins to brew– the foreman on the job, Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard), is Amy’s old flame. As the strain between the locals and the couple grows David remains optimistic but that will have to change if he expects to make it out of town alive. A remake of the 1971 classic with plenty of homage moments to the original only this time with a ridiculously beefcakey cast. Meanwhile, the implied psychological trauma, and unspoken glances leave a large portion of this modern screenplay open to interpretation, the real question is, will you want to give the story that much thought after the fact? Let me answer that one for you, probably not. For a suspense/thriller the gore department also shows up for the party, maybe not so surprising, but something to mull over, after all, who doesn’t love a full on bear trap teasing your limbs? In short, even though you know where the story is headed, there are a few moments that will still make you jump, but the whole thing just doesn’t play out strong enough to necessitate theatre ticket costs, maybe a matinee or rental. Straw Dogs is rated R.
A nameless stunt driver (Ryan Gosling), living in Hollywood, and moonlighting as a getaway driver for extra income bites off an unexpected chunk that might be too big to swallow in an attempt to help out his attractive neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). Meanwhile, friend and mentor Shannon (Bryan Cranston) attempts to set things straight with local mobsters Bernie (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman). Once the stage is set and millions of stolen dollars are in play it’s anybody’s guess who’ll live to tell the tale. Stylistic though and through, Drive is an interesting mix of European directing, a Western story, and the sensibilities of a classic Eastern samurai showdown. That being said this is probably going to be a tough sell to the masses. In particular, the debatable direction of Gosling comes across as either monotone or brilliant depending on what you want to see. And, with a mix of pulp grindhouse violence tempered with a wicked undertowing silence the film makes for one of the most memorable and tense low speed car chases I’ve ever seen; some of the most graphic beatings in a non-horror film; and, a shakedown in a strip club that’ll actually keep your eyes off the girls and on the action instead, yeah I was a bit surprised about that one too. Then there’s the score, most of which is okay, but I’ll be quick to point out I think I threw up in my mouth a little with the main “hero theme,” a pop songy thing that comes back several times, each time a little worse than the first. All told, I think we’ve got an art house flick that might be best as a rental later. Drive is rated R.