I had such a tremendously satisfying experience at the cinema the other day, alone, just me and a toffee nut latte at my favorite AMC in downtown Chi-town. There was no sex, no violence, no romance. But Danielle, those are the essential ingredients to a good American film, how can this possibly be good? Because of Aaron fucking Sorkin people! Writing. Story-telling. A good film, television show and of course any form of literature require stellar composition. Many of us were transfixed by a film about Facebook because of Aaron Sorkin’s remarkable ability to tell a story through compelling dialogue. And while the Social Network also had the directorial stylings of Mr. David Fincher and the soul-stirring, story driving tones of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score, Moneyball develops and succeeds on good writing and good acting alone. I was spellbound, felt like I didn’t breathe or blink, until the very end. I loved every second, held my pee to the brink of infection and it was worth it. Whether you love or hate baseball, this is a must see. Let’s get this out of the way. Brad Pitt is only getting better, getting sexier, my god that bottom lip, I get angry being forced to stare at that masterpiece for longer than an hour. And of course the world is cruel and men get older and they somehow get hotter. That’s why there are almost zero female pedophiles. Women, for the most part, like men, not boys. Men, as we know, like barely legal looking hairless, fatless drones. Anyway, I’m not bitter. So yeah, still want to bone Brad, just incase that wasn’t clear. Mainly, he is becoming a better and better actor. You know he must have been one of the first Hollywood tried to Colin Farrell or Ben Affleck, meaning forcibly turning great character actors and writers into leading men. Of course they all are leading men due to their charisma and sex appeal, but for a few years they were all forced down the SWAT/Forces of Nature/ Meet Joe Black path and I’m so glad all three of those men are back this decade with some high brow quality shit. I’ll take In Bruges, The Town, and Inglorious fricken Basterds any damn day of the week. Since Fight Club (any of my fellow ladies and gay fellows remember his pants in that movie? I dream about those weekly.), he’s only gotten better, choosing interesting films and challenging himself as an artist. Despite his excessive level of fame and affinity for adding children to his family he seems to be generous, smart and giving the world the gift of his talent.
Ok, back on track, promise. Brad McHottenstein stars as the Oakland Athletics (A’s for those completely ignorant of baseball) general manager, and former player, Billy Beane. A promising talent right out of high school, Billy made the difficult decision to decline his opportunity at Stanford to go play professional baseball for the New York Mets (boo). We see how that decision affects his life as the story of the 2002 A’s season unfolds. And that decision now drives him as a GM and as a father with each choice he makes throughout the film. The plot develops and weaves together so seamlessly, without effort, leaving you emotionally involved without explanation. And let me just point out, this movie is not melodramatic. It piques your interest by giving you such rich characters to pull for and the dialogue between them is just eargasms. Couple that with telling a true story about a great underdog and how that tale made history and subsequently changed the game of baseball and you’re hooked, or at least I was. I will not regurgitate the important details of the story. It’s true so it’s out there already as a book, a thousand articles in Sports Illustrated and the like, but the telling of this story through film gives it the life and attention it deserves. I’m pumped, enlivened, want to spread the word. Go see it!
You cannot argue with 95% on Rottentomatoes and yet people still have the most appalling attention span. They need something to explode, blood to splatter, a boob to pop out, or some seriously extreme emotion from a character in order to be entertained. I understand and resonate with the need to escape reality. I love a good action flick, but still the best are beyond Michael Bay’s puny scope. We need a story, we need to be drawn into something, invest in a character, be curious what will happen next and concerned for the outcome. This movie gave me a raging writing boner. I was simply blown away, almost bummed out because Sorkin is such a maniacal genius, similar to many unmatched artists out there, whose skill level and creative brilliance cannot be fully fathomed, replicated, understood or ever reached. I just resort to being inspired, fueled to learn and become better at whatever minor level I’m achieving at the moment. My point is the majority of credible opinions out there completely vouch for this film and slowly the American public is as well. If you’ve yet to give it a chance or are still unsure of it’s worthiness, give it your first or second shot. I cannot wait to see this film again.
Besides diehard New Yorkers, and I love NYC, don’t get me wrong, I’ll live on that tiny island again someday, but beyond those with an actual reason to root for the Yankees, it’s commonplace to hate them and everything they stand for. The richest, most spoiled, ego-ridden team wins, again, how fun for the rest of us. Of course the Yankees aren’t alone, less than a handful of other teams are on that list as well. I won’t bore you with my opinions on the salary cap issue, steroids, or why this country has slowly lost its respect for what may be our best past-time. Just like this film requires maturity, intelligence, patience, and strategy, baseball does as well. Other faster-paced sports and games do, of course, but there’s something magical about baseball. The decision of one, during one moment, has a ripple effect on the rest, in a subsequent moment, as opposed to all needing to perform together in the same breath, the individual is a pivotal part of the sequence to success, just like a film. It’s no coincidence some of the people I respect the most love this game, even through it’s ugly periods. I’m slowly recovering from a football addiction and a love of hockey. I still watch and enjoy, but I don’t predicate my mood or invest any emotions in the outcome. It satisfies my ADD need for action every 8 seconds, for perpetual movement and change, but similar to nonstop explosion heavy movies, I prefer a game and a story to unfold at a thoughtful, intelligent pace, major conflicts and solutions arriving at the right moment, often unpredictably with pleasant surprises throughout.
I’ll simply say that this film restores my faith in baseball, sports and in the American dream. The dream is not about following this very specific path known to bring a narrow scope of success (doctor, lawyer, CEO=$). The American dream is about discovering your path to happiness, as clichéd and lame as that may sound. Your path may be a big family with lots of children, spending over 100 hours a week as an investment banker, singing on stage in front of millions, playing a sport, pursuing an art-form, owning your own business, or whatever you can fathom. The dream is having the balls and the freedom to choose it and stick to it, despite the challenges, in spite of the nay-sayers, and beyond all semblance of hope. Pursuing your dream in your way, not the path of least resistance, or the road to the most attention, more money, bigger homes, a closet full of labels, and a stadium full of adoration. You pursue it because you have to, something gnaws at you to do it, regardless of financial or pragmatic implications. I see that dream and that spark in many eyes, currently burning in the love of my life and I admire how my friends just live what they love, regardless of the current or future result. I’m doing my best to responsibly follow that course as well and a movie like Moneyball keeps my hope alive.
This film is worth our attention. I believe it will provoke thought and allow a dream to bleed back into our existence. Please do yourself a favor and enjoy it, and the likes of similar quality art and sport as well. Don’t make the easy decision, remember a great quote from another fantastic baseball film, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy everybody would do it.” Let’s all commit to respecting the other’s chosen journey and being unapologetic for our own. If it imbues passion and love and hurts no one, what can be wrong?
Quality. Quality. Quality. Expect it. Give it. Receive it. Live it. Enjoy.