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A 2011 movie directed by Bennett Miller.

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The Men Behind The Oakland A's History-Making Season

  • Sep 25, 2011
Oakland A’s fans would be right at home with “Moneyball” as they would be very familiar with the amazing historic run of the team during the 2002 baseball season. Well, I am currently a “retired” baseball fan but even I remember that record-breaking season, when an underdog team actually went on to make history. Non-Athletics fans wouldn’t be lost either since while this is indeed a film about baseball and about the A’s, the film’s focus isn’t mainly the winnings and the losses of the A’s, but rather how one man made a subtle, yet memorable mark in the way the sport is seen today.

Director Bennett Miller’s (Capote) film has been blessed with screenwriters Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and award winner Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) who had based the story on the 2003 book with the same name, so I have to admit I was a little more excited than usual when I found out this fact. The film takes the viewer to look at the game of baseball through the eyes of Billy Beane (Played by Brad Pitt), the General Manager of the A’s at the time; who was a former player who failed on his initial promise. The A’s had gotten through a near-miss season, and has been faced with their initial potential championship team being gutted by various other ball clubs; Beane is now faced with the challenge of rebuilding the A’s on a shoestring budget. By chance, he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) who believes in the philosophy that players should be picked according to their statistical results and not according to their reputation or showboating. This gives Beane the opportunity to pursue players no one else wants, since they have been labeled as baseball misfits. It is a sort of poetic justice since Peter is a baseball misfit of sorts; he has a degree in economics and yet, he convinces Billy to pick a pitcher who throws weird, a catcher with a damaged elbow and a veteran past his prime. For Billy, this may be his last second chance for personal redemption…

                         Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in "Moneyball."

                         Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in ``Moneyball.''

                         Chris Pratt as Scott Hatteberg in ``Moneyball.''

“Moneyball” isn’t a movie that focuses on the history making season; rather it is the story behind that story. There is something more to its narrative, and while it may be something we’ve heard of before, it is no less engaging because of the way the story has been told. The film has themes about regret, about opportunities, perceptions, habits, unspoken contempt and what might have been. Much of the film occurs in the administrative offices, and the drama between Beane, the baseball staff, the new players, and the support staff takes central focus. Yes, this film is about baseball, but it barely shows any baseball games. In a way, it is a test of wills, as Beane develops estranged relationships with talent scouts and most especially with the ball club’s coach (Played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) and how the two stubbornly butt heads to get things going the way they believe should be. It is also how Beane changes the perception of the game, as he and Peter show the drama in mathematics.

                   Brad Pitt as Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as Peter Brand in ``Moneyball.''

                  Brad Pitt and Kerris Dorsey in "Moneyball."

It was quite effective really. I mean the premise behind the film is very simple but it draws out a lot of emotion behind each scene. To get the viewer to be more attached to Beane, we see flashbacks from his past as a ball player; this helps the viewer understand what is going through his mind at that very moment. Miller keeps the shots simple; they made some scenes appear a little dry and yet, it feels real. He uses the camera to emphasize, and to get attention, rather than just stay put and examine. I also liked the way Miller brings the Beane character into a more meditative and fretful role; Pitt does step into the shoes of the movie’s hero, but someone who doesn‘t see himself as a hero. He does quite well, but I have to say that it was "Beane being portrayed by Pitt", rather than Pitt becoming the character (unlike Jaime Fox in "Ray"  and Sean Penn in "Milk"). In many ways, the character was very apprehensive in the results of his decisions (noteworthy scenes are when Billy doesn‘t even watch any A‘s game) and it speaks a lot for the character. Yes, Beane is a caricature in the way the character is drawn out as a general manager, but he is given more time to be human around his daughter (Kathryn Morris). Beane becomes that man who is tender and loving while in the workplace, he plays that unattached administrative manager. 

                       Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Moneyball."

                      Director Bennett Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman on the set of "Moneyball."

The script and the direction may have taken much of the film’s burden, but supporting role kudos would have to go to Jonah Hill. I mean, he certainly embodies that quiet, and meaningful role since Brand obviously had everything to gain in this A’s season. Hill plays the character with an uncomfortable mood, almost uncertain, and yet the more he gets into character, the more the viewer becomes comfortable along with him. Robin Wright Penn was a little underused as Beane’s ex-wife, but I guess I could understand why, as the script needed to focus on Hill and Pitt, but there was a missed opportunity to flesh out the “true” Beane character. True, the script isn’t as polished as I would’ve hoped given its strong first half, the last act felt a little too neat and perhaps it did have some narrative showboating in mind to add an exclamation point.

So, once you see “Moneyball”, please do not be confused that it is a story about baseball, but rather it is the story ‘around’ the game of baseball. It is all about taking chances, and how one can perceive winning. It is not how the A’s season played out, but rather how it played out. It is a story of transformations, and how changes can mean a place in history. Like I said before, old habits die hard, but new ideas often become ignored….anywhere in this life.

Recommended! [4- Out of 5 Stars]
Poster Art for "Moneyball." Poster art for "Moneyball."

The Men Behind The Oakland A's History-Making Season

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October 05, 2011
I'll probably see this on DVD since I am interested in it. Lately I haven't been in the right mood to go to the theatre and see a drama. Too much drama in real life. That and the fact that I keep getting severe headaches and our theatres are small and the speakers are loud. LOL!
October 05, 2011
I would agree with you, but lately, I am getting dragged into seeing movies. Good thing I brought some dvds along so I can watch them on certain times while I am recovering from vacation sightseeing. For some reason, I don't feel like reviewing too often these days....
October 05, 2011
You had another vacation? Lucky you. : )
October 05, 2011
still am on vacay, willl return to SF tomorrow evening....
September 25, 2011
EXCELLENT review WP, love when you write "rather it is the story behind that story".
September 25, 2011
heh. I do have my moments. But I think my review for TREE OF LIFE is much more filled with clever phrases...thanks to the thesaurus LOL!!
September 25, 2011
excellent review as always. And you're right about the story being around baseball
September 25, 2011
Thanks, Joan! I am looking forward to your review of MACHINE GUN PREACHER.
September 25, 2011
we actually didn't see it. We had a screening but it was the same night as 'Moneyball'. We're seeing 'Take Shelter' and Trespass this week and will be reviewing '50/50'
More Moneyball reviews
review by . January 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Baseball is a game of spitting, crotch scratching and often interminably long innings. Moneyball is a movie that deconstructs the myths of America’s home-style game and shows how it becomes an exemplar of big business. By the time Moneyball is over, baseball’s traditions are as quaint as long underwear, the players have become work units, and computer analysis is still unknown by the fans as they munch their expensive hot dogs, slosh beer on their neighbors and scream joyously for the …
review by . October 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Is it more surprising that a movie was made of Moneyball, Michael Lewis's great account of how Billy Beane made the A's a winning baseball team by finding undervalued players, or that it took so long to do because of Hollywood's sausage-making machinery?  Perhaps what is most surprising is that the result is really, really good.      First, this isn't really a movie about baseball (yes, that's the second time I've used that phrase today--see my review …
review by . September 25, 2011
Billy Beane won, you know. He would hate to hear anyone say that since he never picked up a Pennant, but he won. He changed the way baseball is played. Well, maybe not so much played as constructed, but his method proved to win a ton of games in the end. Most teams are emulating his model now, and as the Boston Red Sox say at the end of the movie Moneyball, those not using it are old dinosaurs. Beane's biggest foe, Joe Morgan, is an old trudging dino these days whom I could probably beat up, and …
review by . September 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is a tendency in Hollywood for their movies to have a deeper meaning. If a movie were just about zombies it may be tough to get a broad audience into the theater. So what people tend to do is add a metaphor like zombies that really stand for consumerism or lack of individuality or some B.S. like that. Or they will put in a handsome lead to attract women who may otherwise not want to see a monster movie. Moneyball has every opportunity to do these things as well and while it may touch …
review by . December 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Moneyball was one of my most anticipated movies of this year. The simple combination between Miller, Sorkin, Pitt, Hoffman, and Pfister projected the prospect of a bomb movie. The clock was ticking faster and faster and as soon as I hit the comfortable seat in my theater I decided to let myself caught in this movie's bliss. Did I get caught in that web? Ehh... not really. Sadly, I was too hyped over this project that I left in a way disappointed even though I thought the movie was …
review by . September 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A third base hit
MONEYBALL Written by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Directed by Bennett Miller Starring Brad Pitt, Johan Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman   Billy Beane: There are rich teams; there are poor teams; then there’s fifty feet of crap; and then there’s us.   These days, it seems that when it comes to conversations about the American economy, the focus is on the increasing divide between the rich and the poor. In MONEYBALL, that same gap is affecting America’s favourite …
review by . September 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Moneyball' 'Two Jews On Film' Only One Says This Hits A Home Run (Video)
   First thing I must say is...I basically know nothing about sports. I do watch the Super Bowl but only for the commercials. That said, I absolutely loved 'Money Ball'. Which goes to prove, that you don't have to be a baseball fan, to think that this film, written by Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillan and directed by Bennett Miller, is absolutely wonderful.      Brad Pitt portrays real life Baseball legend, Billy Beanne. I'm sure there are many people …
Quick Tip by . October 08, 2011
Brad Pitt leaves his pretty boy roles behind and plays up his acting chops. Overall good story and strong acting by everyone, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman. It has Oscar written all over it as a movie and for various members of the cast and crew. However, I could have done without so many cutesie kids and the lighting in the guitar store scene was more distracting than mood setting.
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (ISBN 0-393-05765-8) is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. Its focus is the team's analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team, despite Oakland's disadvantaged revenue situation. A film based on the book starring Brad Pitt was released in 2011.
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