If you’re not a baseball fan and you’ve never watched Moneyball because of that, here’s a great piece of news: it’s not really a baseball film; it’s a film about economics. Wait. No. That doesn’t make it sound more exciting. Moneyball by Michael Lewis is a book that changed the way baseball is viewed by fans and baseball personnel. It attempted to explain how the Oakland A’s, a team with a payroll a fraction of the size of, say, the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers, is consistently in contention for a spot in the World Series. The answer is: they don’t sign players or people; they sign numbers.
The Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane became the disciple of a formula that looks for players who simply get on base. Getting on base produces runs; runs produce wins. Moneyball is the story of his crusade to change how baseball is run, and only Michael Lewis, who is the best writer on economic matters to people who have no understanding of economics (hi), and Aaron Sorkin, who can make any subject compelling and fun, could have put together a movie version of that crusade that is riveting. It’s one of Brad Pitt’s best performances, as Beane fighting the entirety of the A’s to make his vision work, and one of the film’s best scenes comes before things start to click and he stumbles upon an upbeat locker room after another loss that Beane knows he’s going to have to answer for to everyone.
Last night, at The Video Game Awards, Universal Studios released the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. As near as I can gather, some time has passed from the first film and Isla Nublar-turns out-is a volcano (that’s poor geological planning), and a team is dispatched to the island to save the dinosaurs while a political fight rages over whether these dinosaurs have the right to live. At the center of that fight, and the thing I’m most looking forward to about this film, is the return of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm.
I was not a huge fan of Jurassic World (you can read my review here), but I will readily admit of the other options, it is by far the best sequel to Jurassic Park. The fifth film in the series has a better director in J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, A Monster Calls, Finding Neverland), but the script is still written by Jurassic World’s Colin Treverrow, and the script was one of the biggest problems in that film. We’ve seen dinosaurs now. The ones in Jurassic Park still hold up going into the film’s 25th anniversary next year. What’s missing is a good story, and as cool as it is to see dinos, I’m hoping there’s more to it than I’m seeing in trailer #1. Oh, and I WILL require more misadventures of the world’s worst geneticist: Dr. Henry Wu. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens June 22, 2018. More below from Coming Soon. Continue reading Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailer #1 (2018) “Life Finds a Way.”
How do you pick just one scene from this film (you can read my full Guardians 2 review here)? While most sequels go bigger, Guardians 2 actually is a much smaller, character-driven film. With this being the last time to see Peter Quill and company before The Infinity War, director James Gunn I think wisely decided to slow it down a little (for the Guardians, graded on a curve) and give you time with each character. They’re going to be as integral to the war as The Avengers and we’ve had at least four or five films with even the junior members, but only two with the Guardians.
The film is a non-stop funny machine. It’s line after line after gag after gag, and while I think the first film is a hair better, I think this film is funnier. Yondu (Michael Rooker) joined the Guardians in film #2, and the awesomeness of his whistle-controlled arrow of death was unleashed in a way that you wouldn’t have even thought possible. He and Rocket destroying a ship with it is my highlight, but I’m not going to deprive you of the best of Baby Groot (to be only topped by sullen teenage Groot in the credits) and Drax (Dave Bautista continues to amaze me; he OWNS this role and clearly has so much fun playing him). Get your MCU hats on! Issue #17 is out this weekend!
After Kathryn Bigelow gets Detroit out this week, following The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, the woman really needs to mellow out and make a movie about animated ducks or something. She is possibly the most INTENSE director about unflinchingly taking on controversial, contemporary issues working today, and my first sentence was flippant, because we need someone doing that. Hollywood doesn’t really finance many message pictures anymore, any issue pictures, and that’s what Bigelow brings to the table.
Zero Dark Thirty is a controversial movie for a lot of reasons, not the least of which the graphic torture depicted (which happened), but also because it was made so soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden. The “War of Terror” is so frustrating because it isn’t traditional warfare. Our enemies don’t wear uniforms, adhere to a country, or even a single doctrine. It’s more a war against a sick madness and how do you fight that? The hunt for bin Laden was so important to Americans because he was the face. He was the uniform, the symbol, the figurehead. There are a lot of powerful scenes in the film but I like this meeting at the beginning with Mark Strong (tremendously underrated actor) painting the picture of frustration of the American people that this man had eluded the largest manhunt in history for a decade and sets the stage for everything to come.
It’s hard to believe, but 2017 is halfway over, and what a strange year it has been so far at the movies. Defying the traditional movie calendar, February and March provided blockbusters and surprises, while May and June (were it not for Guardians Vol. 2
and Wonder Woman
) would have been a bleak cinematic wasteland. More than ever, the international box office has supplanted the U.S. as the measure of a film’s success. For an example you need look no farther than The Fate of the Furious
. The eighth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise made a respectable $225.4 million at home, but a whopping $1.013 billion overseas. Whatever a film’s gross, its long-term legacy lies in its quality, and we’ve already had some fantastic movies. Here are my top five:
Continue reading Top 5 Films of 2017 at the Midpoint