Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team. Written by
Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
Worth admission even if you care squat about baseball
Just caught this at the Toronto Film festival. It is undoubtedly one of the higher quality dramas in 2011. At its heart is a baseball-centric docu-drama, but even folks with zero baseball knowledge/interest can enjoy and be moved by this movie.
Jonah Hill's performance in the film is phenomenal, and this may be the break that that young actor has been joshing for. His portrayal Peter Brand, a Yale Economics major and full time computer nerd is beyond believable, you practically swear that you know him personally a few days after the movie.
The role of Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, is an incredibly demanding one. While there are tons of dialog, hack arguments, display of physical rage, etc; it is the silent story telling, emotional turmoil, change-of-heart reflections, pupils-triggered catharsis, and so on that are the toughest to convey and requires a well-seasoned character actor. This is easily Brad at his widest acting range - and you see all of it in a little over two hours.
To be totally honest, I have not been tracking Philip Seymour Hoffman's acting career until this film. His portrayal of the ready-to-exit Oakland A's coach Art Howe, caught between "the for-sure old money" and the "crazy senseless new reality", convinced me that they couldn't have casted this part any better. Hoffman delivers on every single scene and you literally sweat his frustration along with him. This foil to Brad Pitt's character is actually effective enough to save several heavy- drama exchange where Brad's delivery falls slightly short of the mark.
This is an "onion" movie, constructed purposely to be entertaining on many levels. It can be watched purely as an entertaining account of modern baseball history - how player statistics became one of the most important factors determining financial success in modern baseball.
For more sentimental audience it tracks the journey of a man, forced to embrace change and disappointment as he fumble aimlessly through life etching out an unremarkable career first as a failing professional player, then small-time scout, and washed-out General Manager; only to finally wake up - and find himself becoming one of the greatest living innovator of the modern game.
Finally, for the abstract-at-heart, and those who knows or cares little about the game of baseball (like yours truly), this is a tale of an industry under irreversible change; a documentary of the conflict between innovators who brave the slings-and-arrows to map out the new ways, and the old stalwarts who goes all out to protect their crumbling turf.
At this historic moment in time, the message really hits a home-run! Other than baseball, we've recently witness similar changes and conflicts played out in public across the automobile, music distribution, movie distribution, book distribution, home computer, banking , and many other industries. Every unemployed in a vanishing industry can easily identify with the old Billy Beane, it is how Billy leverage his disappointment and experience, to turn his life around that we can all aspire to.
A worthy note is the soundtrack for the movie, grass-root simple and heartfelt, it sent me looking for the album on itunes - only to realize that the movie has not been officially released yet.
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