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Old October 10 2011, 04:29 AM   #765
CaptainCanada
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Location: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Re: Movies Seen in 2011

Philip Seymour Hoffman double-bill.


140. Dumbo (A-)
141. Smiles of a Summer Night (A)
142. The Ides of March (B)

Not a great movie, but a good one. It's rather like Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck in that the trailer pitches it as much more dramatic than it actually is; Clooney's dramatic instincts on his own projects tend to be fairly low-key. As the reviews have noted, there's nothing new here in terms of message, though to be honest I'm not sure whether there's much new to be offered about the moral nature of modern political campaigns. It's a dirty business, and everyone knows it. Anyway, the film's a solid piece of adult-oriented filmmaking. It has a great cast who all do good work, including another strong Ryan Gosling performance this year. The cast standout is really Evan Rachel Wood, whose role contains the most surprises if you're only watching the advertising; if anyone here deserves awards consideration, it's her. The director himself is also very good in his big scene at the end.

143. Moneyball (A-)

Baseball bores me to tears as a spectator sport (as do, well, most spectator sports other than hockey), but this was a very good movie. Capote, Bennett Miller's previous movie, I thought had an admirable level of craft but was too antiseptic to fully succeed. Here I think he strikes a much better balance; it never becomes sentimental, but the human element really comes across. Particularly given that this is a movie about statistics supplanting "common sense" baseball tactics, the balance of statistics versus sentiment is especially important. Soderbergh was originally going to direct this, and it'd be interesting to see how he approached it, but I think Miller's style is a pretty good fit with Soderbergh. Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillan's screenplay does a great job of making a movie that is basically about statistics interesting to watch; fittingly, given the subject-matter, the actual players are only seen in glimpses and none have real arcs, but the bits we see of them are very effective. Brad Pitt gives a great lead performance, backed up nicely by Jonah Hill in a supporting role considerably more understated than then norm. The final message about succeeding in changing the game but not personally winning the big prize is nicely bittersweet (and taken from real life, so I suppose they really couldn't approach it another way).
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