4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Movie Review: Moneyball, I Don't Know How She Does It, and Mysteries of Lisbon

Movie

Moneyball ****

thumbnail

A rare sports movie with a brain. Brad Pitt does perhaps his best star acting as Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics general manager who, sick of being looted of talent by big-money teams like the Yankees, opted for a “sabermetrics” approach using computers ands the adviee of a smart, chubby nerd (Jonah Hill, very good as this composite figure). The script went through much overhaul (Robin Wright’s tiny role may be a symptom of that), and Steven Soderbergh left as director, but Bennett Miller came in as more than a relief hitter. Full of nuances, always sharp about the frictions of change, finely acted, fascinated by the game but not pious, the movie has the rich adulthood of Miller’s previous work (<em>The Cruise, Capote</em>). Even sweet stuff with Pitt’s daughter is layered in without corn, and baseball is seen as a ruthless business with some magical moments and many male egos.

Find showtimes



The one baseball game given serious time in Moneyball is the Sept. 4, 2002, showdown in Oakland. Over 55,000 fans saw the Athletics blow a huge lead over Kansas City, then win on Scott Hatteberg’s homer. It extended their great winning streak to 20 games, and is now the movie’s sweet spot.

But Moneyball is not sweet. Nor is it much about the mystique and glory, the fabled field of dreams. It sticks close to Oakland’s general manager Billy Beane, a former hot prospect (raised in San Diego) who bombed in the major leagues as a player.

Brad Pitt is at the top of his own game as Beane. Cocky and often nonchalant, he is gnawed by doubts that he tries to cover by grabbing a snack or pitching a grin. When the Yankees use a money pot three times the size of Oakland’s and hire away his star talents, Beane determines to change the system (his predecessor, Sandy Alderson, had begun this process).

He opts for “sabermetrics,” a heavily computerized way of analyzing players that overrides gut hunches and conventional wisdom. The resentment of this by agents and coaches, in meetings that are bull pens of male ego, is personified by skeptical team manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The new approach is personified by Peter Brand, a young statistician based on metrics guru Bill James and Beane assistant Paul DePodesta.

As Brand, who has a portrait of Plato above his bed, Jonah Hill is virtually a Platonic form of soft, fat nerdiness. Hill’s reach beyond his comedy image rivals that of Albert Brooks in Drive. The crafty Brand sees that his system is much more than a numbers game as Beane hires, fires, inspires, and ramrods his players. Not very articulate, his temper often outruns his tact.

Baseball can have magic, as in Hatteberg’s homer. Moneyball says it is also a science and, ruthlessly, a business. Men are traded like well-paid slaves or simply sent away. The story’s bits of sugar come in the divorced Beane’s connection with his daughter (Kerris Dorsey), but this reveals an essential side of him.

The script went through many hands. The tiny appearance of Robin Wright as the girl’s mother feels like a fragment, a leftover. But director Bennett Miller is, true to form, a wizard of taste and observational nuance. He keeps a close focus on Beane and gives us a keen sense of why “moneyball” metrics have spread through baseball.

Miller has gone three times to the plate and scored each time: The Cruise (1998), a poetic elevation of the portrait documentary, starring New York dreamer Tim Levitch; Capote (2005), the most intelligently disturbing treatment of a major American writer, which won Hoffman an Oscar; and now Moneyball, a terrific, brainy sports movie. Not since Cobb, the 1994 Ty Cobb drama that could have been called Sourball, has baseball had such adulthood on screen.

Brad Pitt is so much more complex here than as the iron-butt dad in The Tree of Life. Surely some prime credit must go to Miller. The last shot of Beane, while driving, feels like a nod to Harry Dean Stanton’s poignant exit in Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas. Given Miller’s kind of talent, such an echo would be understandable.

Movie

I Don't Know How She Does It **

thumbnail

She does it all: big-deal investment planning, motherhood, husband-care, cooking, endless e-mailing, and tireless posing as chick-flick star Sarah Jessica Parker, whose charm smile could have cheered up Stalingrad in 1942. She is surrounded by prettier women, but lonely biz wiz Pierce Brosnan is drawn to go-go Parker, while her hubby Greg Kinnear frets sweetly. The gal-pals are enchanted by her, and burble to the camera about it. As a Parker vehicle the movie (much-changed from Allison Pearson’s English novel) has some plastic skill, predictable shots and laughs, and an inexcusably false scene of working class bonding through bowling.

Find showtimes

I Don’t Know How She Does It: A snack tray of zingers and fortune cookies.



The obvious but effective tactic of I Don’t Know How She Does It is to place Sarah Jessica Parker among younger and (let’s be plain) prettier women. Thin as an x-ray, she tirelessly outshines the other fems by drive, pluck, and a smile that could have cheered up Stalingrad during World War II. The SJP model for 2011 is named Kate Reddy, which evokes Helen Reddy, whose big song hit was “I Am Woman.”

Kate is a supermom and rising star of banking finance, a rather slippery hook for comedy in these mad-at-big-money times. While juggling two kids and a nicely accommodating hubby (Greg Kinnear), traveling frequently, eradicating lice, cooking, cell-phoning, emailing, PowerPointing, and teleconferencing, she also wows the rich but lonely wiz of biz, Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), whose virile name leads to a suspensefully delayed penis joke.

Kate’s gal-pals mostly talk about her, with awe and praise and chuckling delight. Douglas McGrath directed as if taking brisk notes from Kate, who is always making lists. There are perky graphics, balloons, and parties. On a trip to Cleveland, Jack and Kate bond with regular, salt-of-life folk by bowling. Once banker Jack nails some strikes, they think he is fabulous (one can safely assume that Michael Moore was not a consultant for this picture).

The script is a snack tray of zingers and fortune cookies, like this one from Kate: “Having a two-year-old boy is like being a movie star in a world without critics.” Which is fairly amusing if you know that Allison Pearson, Welsh writer of the source novel, is married to New Yorker movie critic Anthony Lane. Her book has been altered into a shrine for SJP as a force of female nature, more engaging (if no less commercial) than in Sex and the City 2.

Movie

Mysteries of Lisbon ****

thumbnail

Over four hours of the last great achievement of prolific, Chilean-born master Raúl Ruiz (the Euro-TV version has six hours). A flowing tapestry of stories set in 19th century Portugal, from a classic novel, it involves mostly a young boy, a priest and a dense, Catholic, convulsing society that (like Visconti’s <em>The Leopard</em>) remains on the artistic side of operatic melodrama. There are experimental, form-bending touches typical of Ruiz’s huge body of work, and if you settle into its rhythms, you will be swept along by both the story and his imagination.

Find showtimes

Mysteries of Lisbon: Old-fashioned succulence.

Raúl Ruiz, who died at 70 on Aug. 19, made over 100 movies. Some are lost, many were poorly distributed, and I have seen few. The Chilean-born, often TV-funded auteur was almost as driven by the muse of narrative abundance as Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s titan of polyphonic prose. Ruiz was an experimenter who, as scholarly critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, was able to “combine some aspect of the laboratory and the playpen.”

Mysteries of Lisbon has sustained power for 266 minutes, flowing like spun silk from the classic Portuguese novel by Camilo Castelo Branco (adapted by Ruiz and Carlos Saboga). At first daunting, the length becomes absorbing. I would willingly sit through the six-hour TV version, subtitles permitting. The trimmer edition is at the Ken Cinema, Sept. 23-29.

The axis of the plot (measly word) is the joined fate of a sensitive orphan and a supportive priest. In the 19th Century, the boy’s story is the starter for skillfully laced and layered stories and historical events. They revolve (as in Tolstoy, Stendhal, Flaubert) around the mystery of human character. Confusion is kept minimal by lucid acting, by serenely beautiful settings shot deep-focus in long takes, and by such blithe touches as a paper puppet theater and paintings that mutate. Old-fashioned succulence feels very freshly alive.

San Diego Film Festival

For years I have written about the San Diego Film Festival downtown, not expansively but with a desire to call some attention. I have attended sporadically. Packed screenings for local debut talents, James Woods vamping a crowd with his barn-burner personality, and William Shatner holding forth proudly for his small film, stand out in memory.

Founding director Robin Laatz, husband Karl Kozak (head programmer), and their devoted supporters have kept the event going. Their fest celebrates its tenth anniversary, Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. Most of it happens at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, at Fifth and G.

The usual down-take on the SDFF has been that it shows mostly indies and neophytes with faint commercial prospects and very few international or auteur works. Also, that it’s a party fiesta, bound to Gaslamp Quarter interests and the zeal to wine, dine, and shmooze (truth be told, that also factors heavily at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, etc.).

Opening this year with 50/50, which opens commercially just two days later, the SDFF is dedicated to letting hopeful filmmakers find a screen and a responsive audience. It does so in an enjoyable, very San Diegan way. Before the spree (films, workshops, awards, panels, and parties) the site to visit is sdff.org.

Reviewed in listings: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Dolphin Tale, Love Crime, Restless.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Cavalier Mobile Home owners vs. the rest of the neighborhood

Barbara Villasenor convinced to re-erect fire lane gate
Next Article

Cavalcade marks the earlier U.S.-Mexican borders

700 cowboys ride the hills behind Rosarito
Movie

Moneyball ****

thumbnail

A rare sports movie with a brain. Brad Pitt does perhaps his best star acting as Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics general manager who, sick of being looted of talent by big-money teams like the Yankees, opted for a “sabermetrics” approach using computers ands the adviee of a smart, chubby nerd (Jonah Hill, very good as this composite figure). The script went through much overhaul (Robin Wright’s tiny role may be a symptom of that), and Steven Soderbergh left as director, but Bennett Miller came in as more than a relief hitter. Full of nuances, always sharp about the frictions of change, finely acted, fascinated by the game but not pious, the movie has the rich adulthood of Miller’s previous work (<em>The Cruise, Capote</em>). Even sweet stuff with Pitt’s daughter is layered in without corn, and baseball is seen as a ruthless business with some magical moments and many male egos.

Find showtimes



The one baseball game given serious time in Moneyball is the Sept. 4, 2002, showdown in Oakland. Over 55,000 fans saw the Athletics blow a huge lead over Kansas City, then win on Scott Hatteberg’s homer. It extended their great winning streak to 20 games, and is now the movie’s sweet spot.

But Moneyball is not sweet. Nor is it much about the mystique and glory, the fabled field of dreams. It sticks close to Oakland’s general manager Billy Beane, a former hot prospect (raised in San Diego) who bombed in the major leagues as a player.

Brad Pitt is at the top of his own game as Beane. Cocky and often nonchalant, he is gnawed by doubts that he tries to cover by grabbing a snack or pitching a grin. When the Yankees use a money pot three times the size of Oakland’s and hire away his star talents, Beane determines to change the system (his predecessor, Sandy Alderson, had begun this process).

He opts for “sabermetrics,” a heavily computerized way of analyzing players that overrides gut hunches and conventional wisdom. The resentment of this by agents and coaches, in meetings that are bull pens of male ego, is personified by skeptical team manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The new approach is personified by Peter Brand, a young statistician based on metrics guru Bill James and Beane assistant Paul DePodesta.

As Brand, who has a portrait of Plato above his bed, Jonah Hill is virtually a Platonic form of soft, fat nerdiness. Hill’s reach beyond his comedy image rivals that of Albert Brooks in Drive. The crafty Brand sees that his system is much more than a numbers game as Beane hires, fires, inspires, and ramrods his players. Not very articulate, his temper often outruns his tact.

Baseball can have magic, as in Hatteberg’s homer. Moneyball says it is also a science and, ruthlessly, a business. Men are traded like well-paid slaves or simply sent away. The story’s bits of sugar come in the divorced Beane’s connection with his daughter (Kerris Dorsey), but this reveals an essential side of him.

The script went through many hands. The tiny appearance of Robin Wright as the girl’s mother feels like a fragment, a leftover. But director Bennett Miller is, true to form, a wizard of taste and observational nuance. He keeps a close focus on Beane and gives us a keen sense of why “moneyball” metrics have spread through baseball.

Miller has gone three times to the plate and scored each time: The Cruise (1998), a poetic elevation of the portrait documentary, starring New York dreamer Tim Levitch; Capote (2005), the most intelligently disturbing treatment of a major American writer, which won Hoffman an Oscar; and now Moneyball, a terrific, brainy sports movie. Not since Cobb, the 1994 Ty Cobb drama that could have been called Sourball, has baseball had such adulthood on screen.

Brad Pitt is so much more complex here than as the iron-butt dad in The Tree of Life. Surely some prime credit must go to Miller. The last shot of Beane, while driving, feels like a nod to Harry Dean Stanton’s poignant exit in Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas. Given Miller’s kind of talent, such an echo would be understandable.

Movie

I Don't Know How She Does It **

thumbnail

She does it all: big-deal investment planning, motherhood, husband-care, cooking, endless e-mailing, and tireless posing as chick-flick star Sarah Jessica Parker, whose charm smile could have cheered up Stalingrad in 1942. She is surrounded by prettier women, but lonely biz wiz Pierce Brosnan is drawn to go-go Parker, while her hubby Greg Kinnear frets sweetly. The gal-pals are enchanted by her, and burble to the camera about it. As a Parker vehicle the movie (much-changed from Allison Pearson’s English novel) has some plastic skill, predictable shots and laughs, and an inexcusably false scene of working class bonding through bowling.

Find showtimes

I Don’t Know How She Does It: A snack tray of zingers and fortune cookies.



The obvious but effective tactic of I Don’t Know How She Does It is to place Sarah Jessica Parker among younger and (let’s be plain) prettier women. Thin as an x-ray, she tirelessly outshines the other fems by drive, pluck, and a smile that could have cheered up Stalingrad during World War II. The SJP model for 2011 is named Kate Reddy, which evokes Helen Reddy, whose big song hit was “I Am Woman.”

Kate is a supermom and rising star of banking finance, a rather slippery hook for comedy in these mad-at-big-money times. While juggling two kids and a nicely accommodating hubby (Greg Kinnear), traveling frequently, eradicating lice, cooking, cell-phoning, emailing, PowerPointing, and teleconferencing, she also wows the rich but lonely wiz of biz, Jack Abelhammer (Pierce Brosnan), whose virile name leads to a suspensefully delayed penis joke.

Kate’s gal-pals mostly talk about her, with awe and praise and chuckling delight. Douglas McGrath directed as if taking brisk notes from Kate, who is always making lists. There are perky graphics, balloons, and parties. On a trip to Cleveland, Jack and Kate bond with regular, salt-of-life folk by bowling. Once banker Jack nails some strikes, they think he is fabulous (one can safely assume that Michael Moore was not a consultant for this picture).

The script is a snack tray of zingers and fortune cookies, like this one from Kate: “Having a two-year-old boy is like being a movie star in a world without critics.” Which is fairly amusing if you know that Allison Pearson, Welsh writer of the source novel, is married to New Yorker movie critic Anthony Lane. Her book has been altered into a shrine for SJP as a force of female nature, more engaging (if no less commercial) than in Sex and the City 2.

Movie

Mysteries of Lisbon ****

thumbnail

Over four hours of the last great achievement of prolific, Chilean-born master Raúl Ruiz (the Euro-TV version has six hours). A flowing tapestry of stories set in 19th century Portugal, from a classic novel, it involves mostly a young boy, a priest and a dense, Catholic, convulsing society that (like Visconti’s <em>The Leopard</em>) remains on the artistic side of operatic melodrama. There are experimental, form-bending touches typical of Ruiz’s huge body of work, and if you settle into its rhythms, you will be swept along by both the story and his imagination.

Find showtimes

Mysteries of Lisbon: Old-fashioned succulence.

Raúl Ruiz, who died at 70 on Aug. 19, made over 100 movies. Some are lost, many were poorly distributed, and I have seen few. The Chilean-born, often TV-funded auteur was almost as driven by the muse of narrative abundance as Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s titan of polyphonic prose. Ruiz was an experimenter who, as scholarly critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, was able to “combine some aspect of the laboratory and the playpen.”

Mysteries of Lisbon has sustained power for 266 minutes, flowing like spun silk from the classic Portuguese novel by Camilo Castelo Branco (adapted by Ruiz and Carlos Saboga). At first daunting, the length becomes absorbing. I would willingly sit through the six-hour TV version, subtitles permitting. The trimmer edition is at the Ken Cinema, Sept. 23-29.

The axis of the plot (measly word) is the joined fate of a sensitive orphan and a supportive priest. In the 19th Century, the boy’s story is the starter for skillfully laced and layered stories and historical events. They revolve (as in Tolstoy, Stendhal, Flaubert) around the mystery of human character. Confusion is kept minimal by lucid acting, by serenely beautiful settings shot deep-focus in long takes, and by such blithe touches as a paper puppet theater and paintings that mutate. Old-fashioned succulence feels very freshly alive.

San Diego Film Festival

For years I have written about the San Diego Film Festival downtown, not expansively but with a desire to call some attention. I have attended sporadically. Packed screenings for local debut talents, James Woods vamping a crowd with his barn-burner personality, and William Shatner holding forth proudly for his small film, stand out in memory.

Founding director Robin Laatz, husband Karl Kozak (head programmer), and their devoted supporters have kept the event going. Their fest celebrates its tenth anniversary, Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. Most of it happens at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, at Fifth and G.

The usual down-take on the SDFF has been that it shows mostly indies and neophytes with faint commercial prospects and very few international or auteur works. Also, that it’s a party fiesta, bound to Gaslamp Quarter interests and the zeal to wine, dine, and shmooze (truth be told, that also factors heavily at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, etc.).

Opening this year with 50/50, which opens commercially just two days later, the SDFF is dedicated to letting hopeful filmmakers find a screen and a responsive audience. It does so in an enjoyable, very San Diegan way. Before the spree (films, workshops, awards, panels, and parties) the site to visit is sdff.org.

Reviewed in listings: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Dolphin Tale, Love Crime, Restless.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Cavalier Mobile Home owners vs. the rest of the neighborhood

Barbara Villasenor convinced to re-erect fire lane gate
Next Article

State density rules squeezing Del Mar into a corner

Watermark units on Jimmy Durante Rd. will include 10 'low affordable' ones
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close