Moneyball: Manager of a baseball team, with limited budget, puts together a winning team by focusing not on a player’s ability to play the whole game, but on his ability to do one thing well—get results in a way that counts—all worked out by computers. Not bad, though I can’t say I cared about it much. It’s based on a book by Michael Lewis, but obviously had to be stripped down to a single story. It wasn’t so obvious that a “composite” character, a very young stats expert who’d been educated in Yale’s economics department, had to be made up for Jonah Hill. The human interest becomes aging . . . or maybe specifically aging in a very youth-oriented career like baseball, where everybody except the very best hits a point where he just can’t keep up, and the very best get old eventually . . . or maybe overcoming the bias in nature and society against aging (like other defects) through science and careful management . . . or something. At one point the script was in the hands of Aaron Sorkin, and it shows in the main character’s sense of victimhood, especially at the beginning, and in the way getting sports right is made to stand in for beating all the forces of economic injustice and stupidity.
Sorkin really ought to be left to be an auteur, and to direct his own writing. I can’t say I loved Studio 60 or The Newsroom (the first episode, which I saw when it had been put up for free online), but they were better than the commercial hash that’s been made of the script he started with here.
Crazy, Stupid, Love: A fine comedy, not quite a date movie (the main characters are too old, and it’s mostly too depressing). When it works, it’s good, but it doesn’t quite work, kind of a lot of the time. The first part of the movie is too invested in the idea that the Steve Carell character is a schlub (at most he’s ordinary), and in what it would take to make him into a womanizer with exquisite taste (a kind of taste that would only work in a few cities on either Coast), for the inevitable reversal towards the end of the movie to be reasonable. It’s not entirely “realistic,” as opposed to “poetic,” in the sense that a lot of mileage is gotten out of scenes like a guy standing in the rain, staring into space, for minutes at the time, with no discussion or explanation later of what he was thinking about. A different kind of movie would talk it to death.
I was disturbed a few days after I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love, when I saw what I thought was a picture of Emma Stone, the ingénue of the picture, and it turned out to be Kate Middleton. Whether you think that’s weird will probably depend on whether or not you think Ryan Gosling looks a little like Prince William. Why would anyone do that intentionally? I have no idea.