Moneyball

The Reject Report

Just when you thought it was safe to station video cameras in an attempt to capture the nightly doings of some nefarious supernatural entity. Oh, those pesky ghosty things and their habits of turning innocent tea parties into screaming nightmares. That’s not based on first-hand experience, by the way. My tea party days are over. Luckily for Paramount, audiences were in the mood for chills this weekend, as Paranormal Activity 3 had a dump truck of cash backed up to its haunted house doors and unloaded. The third entry in the now-never-ending series not only trounced the competition and stunned box office analysts, its broke the records for both October opening weekend and Fall opening weekend. Both of those records were previously held by last year’s Jackass 3D, which debuted to $50.3m.

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…of the world. Maybe of the entire universe. Who knows what kind of movies or box office receipts they have in the far galaxies? Still, regardless how much money The Sands of WeepWoo makes on planet Brackle, it couldn’t have been stepped up to the how well the giant robots did this weekend. Real Steel didn’t break any box office records. Even for a robot movie, its opening was on the high end but still South of movies like A.I. Artificial Intelligence ($29.3m opening) and Robots ($36m). It did, however, have the biggest opening for a boxing film, topping Rocky IV‘s $19.9m debut from 1985. A nice sized opening like we see hear combined with how crowd-pleasing the film is could prove Real Steel to have some solid longevity.

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Animals, baseball, and animals, these latter being of the animated variety. Evidently that’s what it takes to keep four new movies from even breaking into the top 3 at the weekend box office. It was evidenced this weekend when none of the new hitters, granted none of them marquee titles that were looking to do $20m or better but new movies nonetheless, were able to take down three returning moneymakers. And one of those returners, Dolphin Tale, found its way into the #1 spot after a week of coming up behind The Lion King and Moneyball.

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides he’s going to learn history from Hollywood. After all, why not when three out of the four major releases are based on or inspired by a true story. He learns about the true history of baseball with Moneyball (and was sorely disappointed it wasn’t called Monkeyball because a movie about monkeys playing baseball would have been awesome). Then he learns all he needs to know about marine mammals and depressed children in Dolphin Tale. Finally, he faces the cadres of screaming tweenage girls to see Taylor Lautner in ABduction. That’s based on a true story, right?

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The Reject Report

Hopefully it’s not a swing and a miss for Brad Pitt and Columbia Pictures this weekend. Oh, man. Sometimes these puns just write themselves. It’s another addition of the Reject Report, and once again we have four big hitters – there I go again – vying for the top spot. A baseball drama, a Jason Statham actioner, a movie about a cute, little dolphin, and Taylor Lautner. Guess which one of these I’ll be spending the least amount of space on. Hint. It ain’t the dolphin movie. So kick back, throw on your favorite catcher’s mitt, and enjoy your weekly box office analysis. I promise we won’t initiate the in-field fly rule this week. Yeah, that one doesn’t even make any sense.

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Towards the beginning of the second act of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, Jonah Hill’s mathlete Peter Brand explains to Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane that the team he dreams of creating for the Oakland A’s is essentially “an island of misfit toys.” Peter makes this admission without irony or snark – to him, those misfits are the ones with the true potential, and Peter understands that the potential to be a winner is much more important than the (very distinct) possibly of being a loser. And yet, Moneyball is a film about being a loser, even if the losers we come to know are losers in a very particular context. Can you be a professional athlete that makes a solid six-figure paycheck and still be a loser? Can you be a popular professional sports organization with millions of dollars to spend, your own stadium, and an accomplished legacy and still be a loser? Can you be Brad Pitt and still be a loser? Yes, yes, and yes (sort of) – and not just a loser in the most literal sense (you know, someone who loses), but in the larger sense of someone who just doesn’t win. As general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy is tasked with crafting a professional baseball team with significantly less funding than the other heavy-hitting teams in their league. It’s that lack of cash that leads to a worst-case scenario play for Beane and the A’s – losing out on the American League West championship, the team […]

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It’s been six long years since director Bennett Miller‘s Capote, and he’s finally returned with a very commercial, very accessible, and very good film, Moneyball. On the surface, the awards contender looks like a simple star vehicle for Brad Pitt. On a deeper level, it’s a film about ambition, being an outsider, and striving for greatness. Clearly, that fits nicely into Miller’s wheelhouse. Although this is only the filmmaker’s third film, the themes that spark Miller’s interest are apparent. Despite Moneyball being a commercial juggernaut and his 2005 critical hit being a breakout indie, they couldn’t be more thematically similar; both films are about men searching for career success, but finding something unexpected at the end. Speaking with Miller, you get a perfect sense of why the director is drawn to these ambitious figures. Here’s what the Moneyball director had to say about ambition, the adaptation challenges of his character drama, and taking advantage of the medium he works in:

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Sports movies have always been one of the tougher genres for audiences to embrace on a mass level. This usually has a lot to do with the sport in question, and in Bennett Miller’s new film Moneyball, baseball (a uniquely American past-time) is front and center. While the film may show limited appeal at first glance, it transcends that incorrect assumption by embracing its underdog true story and successfully juggling hope, love and frustration. The main ingredient that sets apart the good sports films from the bad ones is heart. It may seem painfully obvious and simple but executing that fundamental emotion is anything but easy. It’s a skill that requires a balancing act of love and involving the audience in the sport you’re showcasing. If you get too saccharine it’s not a sports movie anymore, and if you get too technical and inside baseball (pun intended) you alienate a mainstream audience. This is where credited screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin come in. They both have an authentic flair for dialogue and Sorkin in particular just won an Oscar this year for The Social Network, another true life story that juggles many different pieces. But instead of the self-destructive Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball’s protagonist is Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. In the film he’s played with a suave swagger by the suave Brad Pitt, but this isn’t the kind of cool we’re used to from the superstar. Here he plays his cool as a false confidence that smiles on […]

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If you’re like me, then you probably don’t pay much attention to what goes on in towns outside your own. As far as I knew, the only thing Toronto had going on was gripes about Maple Leaf hockey and reminiscing about when The Kids in the Hall used to play that tiny theater down the street. But what do I know? I haven’t been there since The Ultimate Warrior pinned Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 6. Turns out they have a really awesome film festival every year. This year the events go down between September eighth and the eighteenth, and the first fifty or so films announced for the lineup have me wanting to take a trip. There are too many to discuss, but just to give you an idea of what we’re working with, let’s look at a few.

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moneyballisout

After some disagreements on the script, and no other takers, Sony has officially killed the project, and Brad Pitt is looking for something else to do.

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moneyballpittsoderbergh

Sony-owned Columbia Pictures just shut down a project starring Brad Pitt two days before it was supposed to begin filming. What the hell did Steven Soderbergh do this time?

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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