Field of dreams
Director: Bennett Miller ( Capote) Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, Robin Wright Some figures don’t add up. And they’re the figures that count ‘‘ IT’S an unfair game,’’ says Billy Beane, general manager of perpetual baseball bridesmaids, the Oakland Athletics.
‘‘ There are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap. Then there’s us.’’
The year is 2001, and the As have just lowered their colours at the end of a hardfought World Series to the illustrious New York Yankees.
The frustration of Beane ( Brad Pitt) towards the financial inequalities rife through Major League Baseball – the Yankees’ line- up is valued at a whopping four times that of the As – takes him right to the very brink of walking away.
So with all the romance gone, is there still a place for Beane in the sport he loves?
You bet. Based on a true story, Moneyball is the inspirational tale of Billy Beane’s search for a reason to stay in baseball.
What will happen when he finds it? That’s not for me to say. But if you’re expecting a traditional, underdog- bites- back- atadversity sports movie in Moneyball, you’re going to be very surprised.
Suffice to say we’re not heading towards one of those corny endings of a triumph captured in freeze- frame.
With baseball ruled by those bearing the biggest cheque books, Beane needs to come up with a game- changing gambit fast. Those leathery old coaches and scouts – whose seasoned eyes have seen too much – are not going to be the answer.
By chance, Beane stumbles upon a questioning mind with a radically fresh take on the game: a bespectacled young stats man named Peter Brand ( Jonah Hill).
The resolutely un- athletic Yale grad reckons he has identified a crucial error in the way team playing lists are assembled.
Too much emphasis has been placed on a perception of baseballing skill, rather than its actual execution.
What if a team could be brought together on the basis of the pure statistical performance of its players?
Throwing aside more than 100 years of tradition, Beane backs Brand’s plan to the last letter.
Meanwhile, Oakland’s head coach Art Howe ( Philip Seymour Hoffman) blocks the pair’s attempted progress at every opportunity.
Adapted from the best- selling book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball issues a subtly stirring cry against the cashed- up crassness of all modern sports.
Beane and Brand might be churning through reams of data to chase a new dream for the Oakland As, but they can never be accused of doing anything by numbers.
The story of the unprecedented quest of Beane and Brand ( beautifully played by Pitt and Hill) speaks a universal truth to anyone who still wishes their favourite pastime was no more than a game.