Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

26 September 2011

The Romantic in Me

Bennett Miller's Moneyball is just superb. It will be one of my favorite films of the year. It would be easy to say that Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian's script is really the showcase here, but that is simply not the case. The script is, without question, excellent. No debate there. It's smart writing that constantly reminds us that baseball is nothing we should be romanticizing. It's a numbers game, and everything behind the scenes is numbers. Romance, the film says, is for the fans.

Except that the film also allows us to romanticize baseball... and how can we not? That amazing crack as the bat hits the ball. It's just electrifying. And the film reminds us that not everything is numbers. Sure, a lot of it can be numbers, but some of it is just heart, pouring everything you have into something you care about. I bought this stuff hook, line, and sinker. But, then, maybe I'm just a romantic.

Brad Pitt is excellent, as usual, and probably deserves an Oscar nomination for the movie. And the supporting cast is uniformly good, including a toned-down Jonah Hill who demonstrates excellent timing. The big supporting standout for me is Parks & Recreation's Chris Pratt, who plays a first-baseman who's scared of the ball. I loved his performance. He has this innocent, nervous quality that just shines. He's wonderful.

And then there's the direction. Miller's work here is just outstanding. He has the ability to make scenes in offices and cubicles just as compelling as what happens out on the field, and he does this thing where he lets our imaginations run away, letting us get fully invested into the game, praying that everything works out. Then he'll remind us that what we've just watched was just a game, no big deal at all. I've never seen a film this in love with baseball and also this able to take a detached look at baseball. It's just an excellent film. One of my favorites of the year, for sure, and it's only September!

Anyway, go.