Moneyball gave me a needed a break from subtlety
To make a very sweeping (and perhaps unfair) generalization, if you want to make sure your movie gets the highest grades, you’d better avoid anything that resembles to traditional storytelling, make it as hard as possible to penetrate and leave it open for all sorts of interpretations.
I’m just like any other blogger in this aspect. The unsophisticated box office hits are few and far between on my top list of 2011. Sure, I liked Harry Potter and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But they’re outnumbered by the indie style orgies in subtlety with titles such as Martha Marcy May Marlene, Shame and Oslo, August 31st (not to mention Of Gods and Men, where you get to study monks in deep contemplation for two hours. I loved it. But gosh, it was subtle.)
Subtlety is good. Subtlety is fine. But do you know what? Sometimes I feel that I can’t take anymore. It chokes me. It drains the fun out of the movie going experience. I’m craving for something that will give me a bit of entertainment and escape for a couple of hours.
Sometimes I don’t want a movie that requires me to watch it several times or read essays about it just to get a reasonable appreciation and understanding of it. I just want something I can grasp instantly without for that sake being dumb, stereotypical and pointless.
I must have been in exactly that spot when I watched Moneyball last week.
My lack of interest for baseball
My expectations were moderate. I had been vaguely interested in seeing it for a while, more because I wanted to catch up with the talked-about-movies from 2011 than because I really thought I would have any interest in it. After all it was a movie about baseball, a sport I know nothing about and have no interest in whatsoever. Since it’s about hitting balls with a bat, returning the ball as quickly as possible and running between bases, it resembles to the Swedish game “brännboll”, a game that was designed to humiliate people like me. I could never hit the ball as we played it at school, not even if I used the alternative flat “girl” bat, which looked like a board. After the mandatory three tried I had to admit my defeat and walk to the first base with my head hanging in shame.
An entire movie that takes place in sport grounds, locker rooms and meeting rooms for sport clubs, a movie that circles around a sport manager who decided to use a data based system to choose which players to acquire for his team, a film that is centred around a bat-and-ball game, could that really work for me.
It totally could.
Yes, the movie is quite traditionally crafted. I could predict exactly what curve the protagonist would lead, how long his problems would last, when the curve would start to turn up, how long that phase would last and how he then would get a new bump in the road and how the curve would end. I could have drawn it on a paper before start and it would have matched that exactly when we came to an end.
But just because you know how a story will lead, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the ride. I know exactly how Vivaldi’s Four Season’s runs and I still enjoy listening to different versions of it.
High quality crowd pleaser
A reviewer at IMDb called Moneyball a “high quality crowd pleaser” and I think he’s right.
There’s quality everywhere – in the direction, in the cinematography, in the script and in the acting. Brad Pitt as the manager and Jonah Hill as his geeky assistant are both solid.
The label “crowd pleaser” bugs me a little. I was pleased, yes, but who wants to be one in the “crowd”? Not me.
But the fact remains: With many other moviegoers, I totally loved Moneyball.
Sometimes I need a break from subtlety. This movie it came for me in the time when I most needed it and I devoured it and I left the theatre happy “just-seen-an-enjoyable-movie” smile on my face. I was on a high.
It was as if I had a well needed reset of my system, cleansing it from subtleness bordering to complete boredom. And now I’m ready for what 2012 will bring to me. A lot of subtlety, I guess, but hopefully also a few good crowd pleasers to just enjoy.
Moneyball (Bennett Miller, US, 2011) My rating: 4/5