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.
Here’s really all you need to put things in perspective when it comes to how messed-up a decision it was to split Mockingjay into two films: if you combine them, the running time is only three minutes shorter than the extended cut of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The decision to split the films was always a pure money-grab, and it’s hard to say if Lionsgate will end up with more from two poorly-reviewed Mockingjays or the good movie that’s buried within the 260 minutes of bloat that makes up the combined mess. Simply put, the second part couldn’t fix the decision to split the movies in the first place, sapped the franchise of the rabid momentum it had and leaves another series with a flat ending. Continue reading Movie Review: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 (2015) *The Games End*
One of the things I admire about Mockingjay (the book) is the Tolkien-esque lack of a pat, happy ending. These are characters who have gone through hell and they don’t get to be normal people for the rest of their lives. Some things in life just break us. It doesn’t mean the cause wasn’t worth fighting for, but many of the fighters don’t get to enjoy the life their struggles bought. Given that the final book was already bloated into two films, the first of which was deadly boring, I’m hoping the finale can capture Collins’ wrap-up to the series. This is, though, after four years, the final Hunger Games trailer (at least until Lionsgate figures out a way to milk more movies out of the franchise somehow).
This is kind of a weird second trailer for the finale to The Hunger Games. It’s all but a giant spoiler to probably the most devastating moment in the last book, if not the series, so if you’re holding out somehow, skip this. The fourth and (probably) final Hunger Games film will release on November 20, 2015.
When last we left Ethan Hunt and his intrepid group of mission impossiblers, they had just been done an injustice by John Woo (master of the needless slo mo). Enter “The Fixer of Franchises” JJ Abrams who made the jump to the big screen in this film and blew the doors off the theater delivering some of the best action and sleight of hand sequences I’ve ever seen. The whole break-in to the Vatican is probably my favorite section of the film, but its relentless and it gave the series a place to stop if it wanted to (not so much). Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Mission Impossible III (2006) “Bridge Battle”