Category Archives: Sport

Review: Moneyball

Is there a mathematical formula that explains life, the universe, everything? Who knows … but Moneyball would have you believe there is one for playing baseball. I like this kind of “true story”, it’s human, it’s not overly dramatic in the Hollywood sense, but it has real heart and a strong story. This is a film that tells us we are always getting it wrong, and we need a bit of perspective to bring it all into focus.

In 2001 the Oakland A’s (payroll: $39 million) were defeated by the New York Yankees (payroll: $140 million) in an elimination match. It was a hard loss for the Oakland A’s General manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) who was about to have his team gutted because he could no longer afford the players. So what did he do? He turned to Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an expert in a field known as “sabermatricians” (the search for an objective knowledge about baseball) to find a new way to buy players who could win him a championship.

Brand proposes the Oakland A’s need to worry purely about certain statistical attributes of players on the market such as on base percentage (how often a batter reaches base) in order to pick a team that mathematically will win a championship. As a result Beane is able to find a slew of players rejected by other clubs for various reasons that will get him to his magic numbers. At first it’s a disaster, but as Beane and Brand get their head around what they are doing they start to make waves across the baseball world.

Moneyball can almost feel like a documentary at times, it feels like the characters are real, as if it was all filmed live. Credit has to go to Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as well as the rest of the support cast which includes Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, who all play their parts with a grounded sense of realism. You won’t walk away thinking “Oscar” but you’ll feel they were genuine and honest, which is important in this kind of story.

Perhaps the Director gets a little to tangled up in this honesty as the film drags on in moments of introspection and understated drama. The pace really isn’t for everyone and you can be excused for feeling the film is about half an hour longer than it should be. Regardless, the film is about seeing the world through a different lens and it’s style, while conventional, is adequate to achieve this.

I’d heard the original screenplay called for real life interviews of the people involved, but I am glad the final version didn’t go this far. There is a chance this film is too like a documentary with not enough of the drama and humour an audience would expect. It’s definitely subtle and demands an attentive audience, so I wouldn’t recommend this for a Saturday night popcorn flick.

Further reading has cast a shadow over whether reality was as this film would have us believe, but the message seemed to be the same. In a world where sports is increasingly dominated by money and the only measure of success is winning, Moneyball reminds us that winning isn’t everything, and a champion team will aways beat a team of champions. I left the cinema wanting to know more, and that is about the best praise you can give a “true story”.

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Filed under Drama, Film Reviews, Sport

Review: Driven

One normally does not expect much from a Stallone film, this one actually delivers more than a few suprising moments. Firstly you have to realise this is a racing film, an average one at that, so if you don’t like racing perhaps this is not your cup of tea, but other aspects make it worth a look.

I never thought a film written by Stallone could have a few original interpretations of the old sports rival story. For starters, the tradition bad guy is not a bad guy, he even ends up getting the girl. The good guy is at some points more of a litte brat than anything else, and the wise man (Stallone himself) is actually just a good bloke who really does have something good to say. Overall the characters and their interactions is above average for these kinds of average stylish action films… and stylish it is.

The camera work in parts is original and fresh, the use of computer generated images was worth a shot but it is by no mean refined. Some of the action works quite well whilst the rest ends up a little over the top. The fast paced film gives you no chance to slow down and this helps in making you feel the pressure the young rookie is feeling. There is also one aspect that I call tunnel vision (block everything out) that looks good and has some hidden “real life” implications, which if you want to find, they are hidden quite well by stallone through many sub-texts.

The film, like all of these films, falls down about two thirds of the way through. The car chase in the city is what lost it, followed shortly by a massively overdone car crash and then followed by the final race with at times felt too “created”. Then the end was a little dissapointing too, suddenly in one frame the entire cast becomes enlightend and everyone is happy! BORING! we all know real life is not so!

Overall this film is worth a look if you truly do not want to have a burden placed on your mind, it is fast, neat and at time very good but it won’t overload your system with anything besides entertainment. If your in the mood for an action film with a bit of s difference, than Stallones effort is worth a look!

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Filed under Action, Drama, Film Reviews, Sport