Search Results for: Bennett Miller

Foxcatcher Wrestles with Emotions

At one point in Bennett Miller’s poignant and powerful Foxcatcher, John du Pont declares the importance of a coach, “A coach is a father, a coach is a mentor, a coach has great power on an athlete’s life”. While these words definitely sum up what your typical coach/athlete relationship is like, this film does more than enough to separate itself from the traditional sports drama. In this moment, this quote really sums up du Pont’s greatest delusion. Foxcatcher is a chilling tale of people hoping for greatness. They desire to be heroes, winners, and champions, but in the end no matter how much they give they feel like it will never be their best. This constant feeling of failure looms large for du Pont and his athlete, Mark Schultz, and it is ultimately the start of their own self-hatred. Led by terrific performances by the three leads Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, Bennett Miller has created one of the best films of the year that shows you the pain of two disturbed and lost individuals.

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher, which is based on true events, follows the unlikely relationship between Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler, Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), and the multi-millionaire heir to the du Pont estate, John du Pont (Steve Carell). When John du Pont invites Mark to his estate in order to offer him the chance to prepare and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Mark eagerly accepts the offer. The two develop a special relationship that is driven by the need to win. Mark hopes to step out of his brother’s (Mark Ruffalo) shadow, and du Pont is motivated by wanting to be respected by all, especially his disapproving mother. However, their relationship soon turns toxic and not even winning Gold can prevent a tragic outcome.

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Moneyball

The 2011 film, Moneyball, follows  the genernal manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), as he tries to rebuild his team. After a disappointing lost to the New York Yankees in the 2001 postseason, and then losing key free agents in the offseason. Billy was at a crossroads in his career. Feeling that his team and the other small market teams were at a disadvantage against the big market teams, Billy wanted a new approach in a sport that is 143 years old. In comes Yale graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) as the assistant general manager. Together they adopt the moneyball approach. This radical approach uses statistics that are overlooked. Beane and Brand begin to find players that are cheap and undervalued. With this method, they are trying to put a competitive team on the field for the new season. Accomplish this and forever change the game, or fail and make a mockery out of the sport.

Brad Pitt in Moneyball

This was one of my favorite movies of 2011, and instantly became one of my favorite sports movie of all time. I love this movie for many reasons. One of the main reason is because of Brad Pitt’s acting. He is perfect in this role, and gives his best performance of his career. Billy Beane is a smart and clever man, but has been meet with defeat and failures his whole life. There are scenes in the movie where you can just look in Pitt’s eyes to see the hurt that is there. Beane’s emotions in this movie go through so many ups and downs, and Pitt plays it with consistency and thoughtfulness.  The movie rests on Pitt’s shoulders, and he hits a home run, but he also gets some nice support from the cast. Jonah Hill turns in a very nice performance, as does Philip Seymour Hoffman. Another great aspect of this movie is the screenplay. The creative writing team could have easily focused the movie more on the individual players, and made the movie more about the games. However, they take you inside the game, and behind the doors. This approach is a breath of fresh air, and revives the sports genre. They allow the audience to see that baseball is more than just grow men trying to hit a ball with a bat. The movie shows that this is a very smart and challenging game. Remember, this is the only sport or job where a player can fail 7 out of 10 times, and still be considered great. But above all this movies shows that baseball is a cutthroat business. There are going to be ups, there are going to be downs, and there might be some back stabbing, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is wining the last game of the season. There are some minor flaws in this movie. For example they do not mention three extremely important pitchers for the A’s, and at times they give way too much credit to Billy Beane and the moneyball approach; however, this does not take away from the greatness of the movie.

Although this movie is definitely intended for the die hard baseball fans out there, I recommend this movie to everyone. Yes, the movie is filled with baseball jargon and terminology, but the screenplay is fast paced, clever, and smart. In many ways this is the Social Network of baseball movies. There are also some universal themes that everyone can relate to. From the fear of failure to believing in yourself. This movie will leave you cheering and wishing that there is going to be extra innings so you can enjoy it a little longer.

Momeyball was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The cast included Brad Pitt (Tree of Live), Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Chris Pratt (Parks & Rec), and Robin Wright (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). It was written by Aaron Sorkin ( Social Network) and Steven Zaillian (Gangs of New York). It was directed by Bennett Miller (Capote).

3.5 out of 4 stars

– By Louie Coruzzolo

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