Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball, your LiC pick of the week

A couple of people have noted that they find the Weekend Forecast to be too snarky. It’s true that tends to be my fallback attitude for movies I haven’t seen for which I’m not in the target demo or that otherwise look terrible, but I don’t think that’s generally the case for movies I actually know something about whether I like them or not. I could just ignore the movies I’m not interested in or I could write about them without injecting my own knee jerk opinion, but then this would be a different blog. Maybe it would be better, but it wouldn’t be mine. I considered changing up this week and just leaving out the family tearjerker about the wounded dolphin, or the genuinely shitty looking action movie with Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, or the other one with the hunky blandness from Twilight, or the other other one with that guy from 300, but I ultimately I decided to do what I always do. Your opinions on the subject are welcome either way.

  • Moneyball. If you’re willing to accept that the underdog true-story behind this movie is a little exaggerated (and who isn’t?), this could well be the movie you want to see this weekend. It’s based on the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game) which theorizes that the small-market Oakland Athletics were able to field a winning team in the early 2000s because their unconventional general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) relied on new stats-based methods of player analysis that allowed him to find players who would help him win without costing a lot of money. Just don’t tell that to Oakland pitchers Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder or Barry Zito who aren’t really a part of this story despite being the nucleus of one of the most amazing starting rotations in baseball history and a huge key to the team’s success. Of course, if you’re not a baseball nerd, you couldn’t care less about any of that. In fact, if you’re not a baseball nerd, the story I’ve described sounds really boring! Here’s the thing though: accurate or not, what we have here is a story of uplift about a group of outcasts who find a way to win against the odds by going against convention. It surely has a sharp and funny script by Aaron Sorkin and a trio of winning performances by Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Despite my skepticism surrounding the real life story, I have to admit that just might be all I need. Anyway, critics seem to dig it. (Wide)

  • Weekend. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but most gay-themed movies kind of suck. Not all of them of course, Milk and A Single Man are a couple of good recent mainstream examples, but they’re the exception. I don’t know why, but there it is. Rumor has it though that this British drama, revolving simply around an affair between two men, is another huge exception to the rule. It opened at SXSW last in March 2011 to great acclaim and has been lighting up the festival circuit ever since. (NY)
  • Pearl Jam Twenty. Self described as “the definitive portrait of Pearl Jam,” Cameron Crowe’s documentary account of the band’s history is “carved from over 1,200 hours of rarely-seen and never-before seen footage spanning the band’s career.” (NY Wed 9/12)
  • Thunder Soul. The official blurb: “Presented by Jamie Foxx, Thunder Soul follows the extraordinary alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band, who return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old “Prof,” their beloved band leader who broke the color barrier and transformed the school’s struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s.” (Limited)
  • Machine Gun Preacher. Marc Forster (Stranger than Fiction, The Kite Runner) directs Gerard Butler (300) in this true story of a former drug-dealing biker who finds God then heads to war-torn Sudan to rescue the children who have been forced into the military. Michelle Monaghan co-stars. Here’s your cheesy tagline: “Hope is the greatest weapon of all.” (Wide)
  • Killer Elite. The thing about this action thriller starring Jason Statham as an ex-special forces guy who must rescue his mentor Robert De Niro from Clive Owen and his evil underground military is I just can’t get around Clive Owen’s horrible ‘stache. He needs a t-shirt that says “Mustache Rides: 25 cents” (Wide)
  • Dolphin Tale. Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr. and Kris Kristofferson star in this true-story-inspired family flick about an injured dolphin rescued with a prosthetic tail. (Wide)
  • Abduction. Handsome meatbag Taylor Lautner learns the hard way that his parents aren’t really his parents and that evil men are out to kill him! Maria Bello, Alfred Molina and Lily Collins co-star. Man, what happened to John Singleton?  (Wide)
  • Limelight. Documentary about Peter Gatien, the legendary king of the New York club scene in the ’70s and ’80s who was eventually brought down by tax problems and other legal troubles. (Limited)
  • Puncture. Chris Evans (Captain America) stars as a drug addicted personal injury lawyer whose latest case uncovers a conspiracy involving a major pharmaceutical company. Vinessa Shaw co-stars. (Limited)
  • Mardi Gras: Spring Break. If drunk chicks flashing their tits and open container laws are your idea of a dream holiday, then this is probably the comedy for you. Seriously though: Carmen Electra is the best they could do? She was a thing like 15 years ago, right? Was Shannon Tweed busy or something? (Limited)

11 Responses to “Weekend Forecast: Play ball!”

  1. Yes the critics have weighed in decisively with MONEYBALL, a film I saw in sneak preview during the winter, courtesy of one of our mutual friends at Awards Daily, who provided Lucille and I with tickets. At the time I reported in favorably with a 4 of 5 rating for the work-in-progress print, but I have a sneaky suspicion it will be better yet on second viewing (which at Lucille’s request will be later tonight at my Edgewater multiplex) I really didn’t have any issue with the exageration you broach, as the film had so much to offer in the way of fun, humor and terrific performances. It’s truthfully one of the best baseball themed movies, and another feather in Bennett Miller’s cap.

    Yes, most gay-themed movies do suck, you are right on that. But WEEKEND is our Saturday night choice this weekend (at Broadway Bob’s insistence) and what you have reported and speculated here sounds dead-on with what I’ve researched. Ironically I must be among the few people in the world who wasn’t smitten with Linklater’s Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy collaborations, to which this film is said to be indepted to.

    I am also trying to find time slots for two previously-released films (MY AFTERNOONS WITH MARGUERITE and THE MILL AND THE CROSS) but those plans are tentative at best. Both are playing in my local art house multiplex, so the price would be right so to speak. Ha!

  2. For a brief moment I thought that the Godard “Weekend” was being released a little early (it’s showing at Film Forum early October). But nope, apparently not. I wonder if they factored that kind of confusion in when picking the title.

    Of the stuff listed here, the only movie I might take a chance on is “Machine Gun Preacher”. I more or less like what Foster did with Bond, and Butler’s made up for his miscasting in “Phantom of the Opera”. And the title is worth a gander, alone.

  3. Sam, I’m going to try really hard to let go of my ongoing issues with Moneyball and just enjoy it for what it is. I really like the cast and Sorkin has never done me wrong. Is it fair to say this is less a baseball movie than a movie about people with baseball as a backdrop?

    Bob, I don’t know what it is about Machine Gun Preacher, but it’s just telling me to run away. I know everyone hates it, but I unreservedly love Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction. I was more OK with his Bond than many people too. no opinion about Kite Runner.

    I don’t know. The tagline. The earnest good intentions…

  4. Craig, you’re probably right. I probably should stay away from this. At very best, it sounds like a true-life version of a couple of “Lost” flashbacks. This, and most of Foster’s stuff, looks like material that’s plenty of fun and worth it to watch when it reaches cable (provided it shows on a channel that does letterboxing), but isn’t quite worth the while in the theater. Still, if I was going to see something in the theater this weekend, it’d probably be either this, the De Niro/Statham/Owen thing (which looks all kinds of horrid, nevertheless) or “Chocolate Underground”, and I already saw that at an anime convention, anyway.

  5. I haven’t really watched the trailers or read the reviews, but I can’t tell if MGP wants to be an action movie or Oscar bait or something in between. I’m probably letting the general bad critical consensus convince me it’s a rental.

    Besides Moneyball, I’m probably most likely to catch Killer Elite even though it looks kind of terrible. I might be in the mood for a silly action flick.

  6. “Is it fair to say this is less a baseball movie than a movie about people with baseball as a backdrop?”

    Yes, I would say absolutely to that Craig.

  7. I think it’s going to be very popular an I think we’re looking at a viable Oscar candidate, the movie itself and/or Pitt’s performance

  8. The only draw “Moneyball” has for me is the Sorkin script. Other than that… I dunno. Probably right about the Oscar stuff, though I still think it’s a little early for that (then again, the awards-season is like any other holiday build-up– it keeps getting earlier and earlier).

  9. I am looking forward to Moneyball. After The Social Network (should I remind everyone that it was just a film about the creation of Facebook before Fincher and Sorkin jumped on board) I think I’ll restrain myself from doubting A.S. for the time being.

    Machine Gun Preacher also sounds okay. I will watch it at some point but probably when it comes on DVD. Doubt that it’ll be worth the admission.

    P.S. I loved Stranger Than Fiction. Didn’t know that people mostly hated it until you mentioned it, Craig. It’s strange because it’s such and inspired and different film. Can’t really imagine why would anyone not like it!

  10. “Moustache rides: 25 cents”

    hahahahahaha

    I’ll be in Tulsa. The hotel where I’m staying also happens to be hosting the first Tulsa International Film Festival (true coincidence). I think it’s mainly small stuff and how-to seminars, but if anyone sees anything on the lineup that I shouldn’t miss, holler. http://tulsaiff.festivalgenius.com/2011/films

    Other than that, Drive and Moneyball are both possibilities, in that order.

  11. I don’t know Piro, maybe people were just expecting a typical Will Ferrell comedy?

    JB, at a glance the only film I recognize is the poetry slam doc Louder than a Bomb which I heard was very good.

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