Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Moneyball is wonderfully written, sharply directed, and features the best "movie-star" performance from Pitt in a long time (possibly ever). Hill is perfectly cast as Podesta, bringing lots of laughs to the surprisingly funny script (you can clearly see both Sorkin and Zaillian's hands all over the script), and Hill and Pitt have dynamite chemistry (the trade deadline scene was my favorite). The terrific, almost ambient score (loved the frequent Explosions in the Sky-esque guitar riff) is balanced beautifully by the numerous (and startling) moments of silence, which really help bring you into Billy Beane's psyche. In many ways it's definitely this year's The Social Network, except here, you're not watching a group of prissy ass-holes bickering over money and fame, but rather, the story of a deeply charismatic GM with a serious love for baseball who is starved for something new in the sport that he's been involved with all his life. Moneyball is right up there with the best sports movies ever made.

But...the real kicker of the night was getting the unnanounced chance to see a 10 or 15 minute sizzle reel for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It could have been shorter than that, but honestly, I totally lost track of time due to the massive levels of excitement. As the lights went down for Moneyball, the footage just started, with Christopher Plumber in close-up, talking about some dark family stuff. I'm saying to myself -- this isn't Moneyball -- nor is it the Karen-O trailer that we've all seen -- what's going on here!? And was like watching a mini-version of the final film, but not in a bad way. If it's possible, I'm even more anxious to see what Fincher has cooked up based upon what I saw tonight. I've seen the first two Swedish films (haven't read the books) and found them to be good mysteries with some great scenes and performances but nothing that was mindblowing. This movie isn't going to stretch Fincher as a filmmaker, and yeah, the material is completely within his comfort zone, but if this particular story had to be re-imagined by Hollywood, I can't think of another director for the job. In short, from what I saw tonight, the film looks INCREDIBLE, with an icy visual style that harkens back to Seven and The Game (a film I adore). Mara looks extremely intense and Craig looks appropriately weathered and intrigued by all the things going on around him. The score that was used was very TSN-esque, very low-level, almost a constant electronic humming, that then progessed and crescendoed into an explosive finale. Combined with all the dark and nasty and exciting imagery on display (snippets of lesbian sex, the infamous assault sequence, violence, car-chases, general deviancy) the reel got a huge charge out of the audience, with lots of chatter and buzzing after it was over. I think some people were perplexed as to what they were watching as it clearly wasn't a trailer, and at these free screenings, they typically don't show trailers (maybe one). And, now having seen some real footage from the film with dialogue and characters and plot points established, I guess you can't rule out the film from getting the "genre" nomination (think District 9) at the Oscars. One thing's for sure -- it's gonna make a shit-ton of money at the box office, despite the clearly hard-R that they've gone for. And I loved how after the on-screen "A Film by David Fincher" credit came up, there was a "Screenplay by Steven Zaillian" credit; not since the first trailer for Bad Boys II do I remember a trailer that gave an in-name shout-out to the writers (Shelton, Stahl, and Hancock got credited). All in all, another terrific night at the movies. This fall has been sensational so far: 50/50, Contagion, Warrior, Moneyball, and now Drive(!) this weekend, and we're not even done with September! It's gonna be a great few months coming up...

Oh, and it's worth noting the audience respone to Moneyball, which was extremely favorable. Mixed demographics, almost every seat taken, people of all ages. A huge round of applause greeted the film at the end, people laughed in all the right places, and Pitt and Hill cast a spell on the entire crowd with their back-and-forth. For a movie that's all about words and people talking, people were amazingly courteous and respectful, which is shocking, because these free screenings tend to always bring out the winners and morons. But not tonight. It might've had something to do with the fact that there were four security guards pulling people out of the theater for using phones. But I'd like to think that when a good story is being told that people are enjoying, they'll all shut the fuck up and do what they're there in the theater to do -- watch the movie. Not text their friends or chit chat or browse google every 20 mins. Moneyball is a very quiet movie at times, so it can easily be ruined by unappreciative audiences. Based on what I saw tonight, this movie will be a big hit and have terrific word of mouth. And for a sports movie that avoids almost every sports movie cliche in the book, that's saying something. Loved it.

1 comment:

DA said...

I'm going with my son to see this on Saturday. He's paying - and buying me a burger at apparently what is the BEST F-ing Burger joint on the planet. Can't wait.