Pitt’s charm, swagger can’t save under-written ‘Moneyball’
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill star in “Moneyball.”
★★ 1/2 (out of four)
2011, Dir. Bennett Miller, U.S., PG-13
“Moneyball” is rated PG-13 for profanity.
- New films
Director: Shawn Levy.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly.
The plot: A boxing drama set in the near-future where
2,000-pound humanoid robots do battle.
Genre: Comedy, drama.
‘The Ides of March’
Director: George Clooney.
Starring: Paul Giamatti, George Clooney.
The plot: An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential
candidate gets crash course on dirty politics.
- Film roundup
★★★★ (out of four)
“Drive” is such a film, and in what surely must be a miracle, it
has not been abandoned on the arthouse circuit. On the contrary, it
is playing in multiplexes across the U.S., and as of press time was
the second-highest grossing film in general release (behind the
re-release of “The Lion King,” naturally). To see a film of this
caliber performing so well in wide release is inspiring, and goes
to show that there is in fact a demand for this kind of thing among
“mainstream” audiences. Studios should take note — and give
director Nicolas Winding Refn (winner of the best director award at
this year’s Cannes Film Festival) the money and creative control to
do absolutely whatever the hell he wants from this point
A fast-paced procedural documenting the likely effects of a new
worldwide epidemic, the film has all the hallmarks of a
sophisticated Soderbergh production: a gritty feel and urgent tone;
plenty of jump-cuts and carefully edited montages; a sprawling cast
of A-list actors in modest supporting roles, etc. But also present
is the odd and unsettling remoteness that Soderbergh typically
displays when he’s in studio mode. Everything is so precisely
staged, each camera angle and edit so obviously and meticulously
tweaked, that Soderbergh’s true filmmaking voice often seems in
danger of disappearing into an abyss of overly polished,
“Red State” is an especially surprising and most welcome
game-changer for Kevin Smith, who has built a career out of
straight comedies predicated on crude sex and fart jokes. The film
represents a giant leap forward for him as a filmmaker, and is
indeed the only Smith film that suggests any interest in actual
cinematic technique. I was initially skeptical when he claimed that
producing and distributing the movie himself allowed him the
opportunity to deliver the visionary, uncompromising, totally
kick-ass horror flick he intended to make, free from the studio
interference that allegedly ruined several of his previous works.
Yet it appears there’s something to these claims, and upon seeing
the film it is clear that Smith has intentionally bucked every
genre convention and audience expectation imaginable. He fought the
system, and he’s come out on top.
Posted: Friday, September 30, 2011 7:54 am
Updated: 9:04 am, Fri Sep 30, 2011.
The unrivaled cinematic high provided by “Drive” was fun while
it lasted, but now it’s time to start the long, hard slog toward
awards season. The period between the end of summer and the
beginning of Oscar season proper is typically a bit of a dumping
ground populated by not-quite-ready-for-primetime also-rans, but
there are still some promising titles on the horizon.
Next week we’ll look at the cancer dramedy “50/50” (I’m a sucker
for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, what can I say?), followed by the George
Clooney-directed political-intrigue thriller “The Ides of March”
and the (perhaps unnecessary) remake of “The Thing.” Until then,
just keep loading up on horror flicks in preparation for Halloween.
And see “Drive.”
Friday, September 30, 2011 7:54 am.
Updated: 9:04 am.