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Friday, October 28, 2011

Moneyball

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?" muses Brad Pitt as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in Moneyball. And it's a truth. Baseball has translated onscreen to more good movies than bad ones. And this is a great one.

Moneyball is mostly a business story. The book, to be blunt, focused on analytics. But writer Aaron Sorkin, who made business dealings exciting in The Social Network, has no trouble bringing drama to the dealings of baseball.  In fact, you not only get a good business story, you also get everything you want out of a passionate baseball movie.  Except you don't get that traditional, corny ending.  For my money, Moneyball is one of the best films of 2011.

Simply put: Out of the park

Award potential:  Picture, Screenplay, Actor Brad Pitt (Oscars).  Probably too early in the season for Academy to remember a remarkable supporting performance by Jonah Hill.

The Ten Buck Review:  Worth ten bucks.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Ides of March

Last year's bestselling book, Game Change, gave us enlightening, provocative, fly-on-the-wall insight into the 2008 Presidential campaign. The Ides of March, which similarly focuses on a campaign team and the days before a heavily contested Ohio Presidential primary, has no such revelations. Unless, of course, you are shocked that Washington is a corrupt place.

Ides is not an important film.  Once you realize that, you can enjoy it as a political thriller.  The cast is fantastic to watch. Clooney, Hoffman and Giamatti hold your attention every second they are on screen. And your root for Gosling  even as his character darkens. Watching these four banter on screen (with a bag of popcorn in hand) makes up for the fairly predictable story.

Simply put: Actor's showcase

Award potential:  The actors will be rewarded more than the film.  Gosling (Oscar, Globes).  Clooney, Hoffman and Giamatti have potential nods in the supporting category but they've all had better material.

The Ten Buck Review:  Worth ten bucks.  (Twenty with popcorn and drink)







Thursday, October 6, 2011

Drive

Ryan Gosling, hot off of his memorable roles in Crazy, Stupid Love and Blue Valentine plays a driver for hire.  He's a stunt driver for movies by day and a getaway car driver by night.

He's a modern day Steve McQueen and the opening chase pulls you in fast.  

But after that stylish opener,  the whole story gets too familiar. Boy meets girl, (a lovely one played by Casey Mulligan), boy gets in too deep with the girl, boy gets in too deep with the bad guys and pretty soon, everyone gets in too deep with guns. And of course, there is a bag of money. By the end it was like any tv show and I was ready to drive home fast.

SImply Put: Downshift

Award Potential: None. But gives points towards Rosling's Ides of March nomination

Ten Buck Review:  Worth 2 bucks. (Rent it to watch instead of a CBS procedural)

Midnight In Paris


Woody Allen, has found a credible blend of whimsy and wisdom with Midnight In Paris. The central story revolves around an American writer's (Owen Wilson) great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better.

The city is shot beautifully and the script is full of wit.  I loved the whole package. For those who've been waiting to fully enjoy a Woody Allen film (or an Owen Wilson one), this is a dream.

Simply Put: Charming

Award Potential: comedy picture, director, screenplay and actor (globes) long shot picture, screenplay (academy awards)

Ten Buck Review: Worth 10 bucks