Monday, January 30, 2012

Beer & Star Wars

What's the point of having a blog if I don't shamelessly promote myself on a regular basis??? Here's a quick painting I did for an art show in Sarasota, "Beer & Star Wars." The piece didn't sell, but that's okay, 'cause I wanted to keep it, anyways. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why I Love Moneyball....and Cinema, In General

Baseball, in my opinion, is one of the most boring sports in the world. To still call it, "The Nation's Past Time" in the 21st-century realm is an antiquated, nostalgic phrase that hasn't been modernized to take into account thousands of cable channels, on-demand movies, high-def 3-D flat-screen televisions that play effects-laden films, and copious amounts of the freakiest free porn accessible on your home computer.
Add to that the exorbitant number of baseball films that have already been done, and done well, might I add, and you wonder why an executive would even RISK making something like Moneyball.
But then you watch it, and it reminds you that, with every theme out there, there's a million different stories that can be told about it. Not only that, but this one had a combination of talent that, in a way, was accumulated together probably in the same respect and approach that the General Manager (and main character of Moneyball), Billy Beane, put together his Oakland A's.
Adapted from a the real-life story of Billy's ordeal of building a winning team with a fraction of the budget that a big-time team like the New York Yankees had, screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin put together a story that both humanizes and intrigues the viewer about something that, from a very literal interpretation, was a very dry and statistical analysis of how players were recruited. But from a larger perspective, the story is about fighting and breaking the reins of convention; it's about taking bold risks; it's about how money overwhelmingly influences victory; but most importantly, it's about challenging the status quo, as well as people who call themselves "professionals", and asking the hard and honest questions of why do they do things the way they do. Zaillian and Sorkin are wonderful yins to each other's yangs. I ADORE Sorkin, and truly feel, pound-for-pound, he holds the Lifetime Achievement award for creating whip-fire dialogue, snappy dynamics, and clever banter with all his characters. That being said, you can also see his imprint on a script from a mile away. With Zaillian credited as the main screenwriter, you can see how there was added a more realistic and grounded foundation that added a more acceptable sense of tone, and added the intensity of the drama of watching a man make VERY risky and bold approaches to decision-making, and getting punched in the face mercilessly, both in the professional and social realm, when he did so.
From that same perspective of taking risks, using director Bennett Miller was a bold choice to combine with an A-Lister like Brad Pitt. They guy only has two other movies under his belt, one being Capote, which, although a critical success from a critic's point of view, financially didn't make huge waves (it did, however, make enough domestically by awards season to justify its small art-house budget, and eventually quadrupled the amount it cost to make it) Bennett Miller understands how to build drama, how to add a cinematic quality to the voyeurism of watching the industry from the inside, instead of from the bleachers.
He also recruited a spectacular sound editor that knew how to set mood just from the crisp crack of the ball on a bat, to even the complete absence of sound in scenarios that really would, at that time, probably be so epic, everything around you would seem to go silent.
This movie exhibits to me everything that I LOVE about cinema. It takes an overdone genre, and makes it fresh again. It challenges convention. It grabs your eyeballs, and won't let go until the credits. It folds you into the story, and takes you for the ride. It forces you to think of a bigger idea. Most cinema is just a fun ride, a temporary reprieve, and break from redundancy. Then you have movies like this, and it just reminds you of the power art really CAN have on a viewer. So please go see this and enjoy it as much as I did!