Moneyball-The Movie

This film is so good, I want you to rush out and see it, even if you hate baseball, even if you’ve got no clue how many players take the field.

Do you trust me?

I guess that’s what this is about. Have I earned the ability to have you follow me blind, not because I’m being paid but because I’m searching for greatness, and it’s so rarely found.

We’ve got a lot of good in the music business. A lot of professionalism in the film industry. But very few eureka moments. Very few experiences that make us laugh and cry, that make us feel fully alive.

The Adele record is one.

And "Moneyball" is another.

See it on the big screen. The cinematography makes you think you’re seeing something important. There’s a hyper-real effect that draws your attention. And even if you know how the movie plays out, you’re thrilled to go for the ride. Kind of like riding a roller coaster. A great one is just as good the tenth time through. When the A’s are on their winning streak and Billy Beane is afraid to jinx it and they blow an eleven run lead…you start to sweat, you get anxious. It’s the essence of baseball, the essence of sports. You’re totally in the moment. You think this is the most important thing in the world.

Brad Pitt is phenomenal. He’s completely different from his breakout role in "Thelma & Louise". He’s tall. He’s a hothead. He’s the Robert Redford of our generation.

And at first you can’t see beyond Jonah Hill’s facade. But then he becomes the statistician, you see him as the Yalie who believes that numbers don’t lie, and if you don’t do your homework, you don’t win.

And speaking of believing in numbers… Almost deserving of an Academy Award as supporting actor is Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Art Howe, the manager, who believes in tradition as opposed to data. He underplays to the point of believability. He’s about making himself look good, like so many in this world. And then he gets all the credit when the man he battled deserves it.

And the scouts are crotchety and real. And the owners are smug and omnipotent, especially the Red Sox owner. His speech near the end of the movie is one of the highlights. Credit Aaron Sorkin. He wrote the best movie of last year, "The Social Network", and he’s co-written the best movie of this year, so far anyway. Sorkin manages to merge believability with speechifying. He gets the point across without having the actors appear two-dimensional. It’s almost like real people speaking.

But it’s not, it’s a film.

But when art is done right, it’s a condensation of every moment of our lives. The boredom and the excitement. The anger and the grief. The smile and the frustration.

I could make analogies to the music business. You can apply the "Moneyball" philosophy to so much in this life.

But what struck me most was Billy Beane’s line about no longer doing anything for the money. He did that once, it backfired on him. He should have taken that scholarship at Stanford, he should not have made that deal with the Mets.

Today everybody goes for the gold. The reason you win at the Olympics is to cash in. Otherwise, why train so hard?

But then what? Then you’re a living has-been.

And that’s the problem with trying to make it in sports and music. If you don’t, and you probably won’t, where will you be left?

If you’ve got no skills other than being able to pick a guitar and that doesn’t work out, you’re qualified to be a janitor, or a cashier. That’s the truth. Which is why conventionally high-risk professions like being an artist are peopled with the lower classes, when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

But now our artistic enterprises are run by MBAs, Ivy League graduates. They pay lip service to the art, but they’re really all about the money. They want the lifestyle of the rock star with none of the risk.

And that’s why there’s so much crap out there.

But this is not crap. "Moneyball" was not made by newbies, but lifers, who earned the right to do it their own way.

And it was all based on Michael Lewis’s book. Which is highly readable. That’s Lewis’s skill. Anybody can write about sports and finance but can they make it interesting, can they keep us coming back?

I had to download the book after seeing the movie, even though it’s almost a decade old. Because I needed more. Like a fan digging into the catalog of an artist he just discovered.

I don’t care to what degree the movie is accurate, to what degree statistics rule the game today. All I can say is that for two hours I was riveted, I didn’t want the movie to end.

And when it finally did finish, I turned to Felice and said:

"That’s a really good movie."

It is.

Enrich your life. Go see it.

It’s everything a film should be. Which so few today are.

It’s not about special effects. It’s not about blowing stuff up. It’s not an assault. Rather it’s a view into life, and choices. It’s about the human condition. Our best art always is.

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