Archive for the ‘Phillip Seymour Hoffman’ Category

MOVIE: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

April 25, 2012

I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I find Tom Cruise action movies incredibly entertaining.  Well, okay, I’m a little embarrassed to admit it.  But not so embarrassed I can’t take a little ribbing in the comments, so feel free to mock away.

This one, the latest in the Mission: Impossible series, is nowhere near as good as the previous installation of this series (the one with Philip Seymour Hoffman), but it’s still a good time.  The mission is a little on the dull side — they’re trying to stop a crazy guy who wants to blow up a nuclear bomb to sort of “reboot” the world — but it moved along at a decent enough clip, with plenty of one-liners and awesome gadgetry to make it more fun.  The problem with the story, from my perspective, is that the villain is usually the make-it-or-break-it part of a film like this, and “crazy” is not nearly as fun as “evil,” if you ask me.  (In terms of “evil” villains, by the way, I like “evil scientists” the best.)

Simon Pegg is back and enjoyable as always, though half the funny lines he delivered are funny lines I’ve heard 10,000 times in action movies.  But this one also saw the addition of Jeremy Renner to the team, his character left with just enough mystery to suggest he might be a permanent addition to the series (oh, that would be nice!).  I dig.

Worth a rental for sure.  I’ll probably see it again with my mom, by the way, as she’s also a fan of Tom Cruise action flicks.  And yeah, we liked Knight and Day  with Cameron Diaz too.  You can’t make me feel dumb for it, either.  Though I have no doubt you will try.  GO AHEAD.  MAKE MY DAY.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Action, Spy
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Ving Rhames, Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson

MOVIE: Moneyball (2011)

January 26, 2012

Any fan of baseball will find plenty to like about this film, which is based on a non-fiction book of the same title by Michael Lewis, who also wrote the book the film The Blind Side was based on.  It’s about ex-ballplayer Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland As, and how he, along with a kid named Paul DePodesta (fresh out of Harvard with a degree in economics), completely revolutionized the way baseball teams pick players.

Unless you love the game, though (or are a serious math nerd, I suppose), I’m afraid you won’t get much out of Moneyball, despite the fact the writer and director tried extremely hard to give it a broader appeal.  The sad news is, it was that very thing — the addition of a hammy subplot about Beane’s ex-wife and daughter — that took what might’ve been a great movie and turned it into a flick too long by at least 30 tedious minutes (all of which were absolutely insufferable dreck).

Though ultimately, this film really only succeeded for me as a teaser for the book, it’s an entertaining teaser, for the most part.  Beane (Brad Pitt) was General Manager of the Oakland As in the late 1990s when the team’s budget, already low, was slashed dramatically by its owners.  The As had long struggled to be able to afford star players, and with this latest round of payroll cuts, Beane was convinced they were doomed — unless he could figure out a way to think differently about what truly makes a winning team win.

It was right about this time Billy met Paul (Jonah Hill), a young Harvard grad working as a statistician for another team in the majors.  When that team wouldn’t trade him the players he wanted, Beane “bought” Paul instead, and as he began talking to the economist, he realized the kid had some incredible ideas about how to make a ball team successful on the cheap.  Using sabermetrics, Billy and Paul began analyzing the sport’s least valued players, and, after juggling the numbers, realized they could build a team virtually guaranteed to be a success and still stay under budget.

Naturally, the rest of the A’s scouts, owners, and managers were horrified by Beane’s proposed line-up — to them, it just looked like a team of misfits and losers.  But he pushed his ideas through, got the team he wanted, and then sat back to watch them . . . lose.  Manager Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) refused to follow Beane’s advice on the order in which to bat each player, which Paul had calculated would promote the most base hits, and the result was exactly what everybody had expected:  a miserable flop.  But as the team continued to get creamed left and right, Howe finally caved and began to do what Billy and Paul were telling him.  And, of course, the As then immediately launched themselves into a record-breaking series of wins, making it to the playoffs that same year.

The parts of this film that focus on the statistical work behind the scenes are the best parts of the picture.  Watching the ballgames was fun, of course, too.  But the addition of way too many scenes featuring Beane’s ex-wife and daughter, and the other personal struggles he was experiencing off the field, were absolutely awful.  They were trite, badly acted, and felt clumsily inserted — an afterthought clearly intended to alter the demographics for the movie’s audience and bring in more chicks.

Newsflash, filmmakers:  chicks dig baseball too.  And what’s more, we hate being pandered to.  Y’all should knock that shit off.

Nevertheless, despite this movie’s numerous weaknesses (to be honest, this is not Pitt’s best work either), I was definitely entertained and, what’s more, the film really piqued my interest in the book.  Watch for a review of that coming in the next few months.

And in the meantime, only 24 days until ball players report for Spring Training — hurrah!

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre: Drama
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop, Reed Diamond