Brad and Jonah

All this time I’ve been presuming that the big Moneyball dynamic would be between Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. And maybe it will be in the actual film. But in this just-out teaser it’s between Pitt and Jonah Hill. You can feel the almost Martin-and-Lewis-like rapport. Pitt is the energy guy with the rap and the set-up, and Hill (pre-weight-loss) delivers the punchline.

Sony/Columbia will open Moneyball — directed by Bennett Miller, written by Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin and Steven Zaillian, and produced by Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca and Rachael Horovitz — on 9.23.

48 thoughts on “Brad and Jonah

  1. Pjm on said:

    When is Brad Pitt going to get that sack of marbles out of his mouth!? And what is with actors who keep their mouths open all the time? Can you imagine Clark Gable with his mouth hanging open in each scene? Between him and Hill, I can barely understand a word they say. Didn’t they use to give actors diction lessons? Time to bring that idea back…

    As for the film – another sack of sports cliches. Exactly what distinguishes this story from “Major League” or “The Natural” or “The Rookie”? More Aaron Sorkin-written scenes of people sitting around a table saying incredibly clever things.

  2. You know what? I spend countless hours a day among people who massacre the English language on a regular basis. And they are outnumbered by the people who can’t seem to come up with an adjective other than “awesome” to describe something positive.

    Between those two groups of people, I’ll take all the Aaron Sorkin-written scenes of people sitting around a table saying incredibly clever things that I can get.

  3. God the shit fumes coming off those talking head “hosts” are infuriating… How do people watch those shows?

  4. Brad Pitt is the greatest jaw actor of all time. This may have something to do with the marbles in his mouth. He’s toned down on the hands thing lately too, so now it’s just all jaw flexing. Got pretty intense in TREE OF LIFE, which I should say he was great in.

  5. “Can you imagine Clark Gable with his mouth hanging open in each scene?”

    It’s official– the Motion Picture and Television Fund Country House has WiFi.

  6. “Exactly what distinguishes this story from ‘Major League’ or ‘The Natural’ or ‘The Rookie’?”

    Well, for one thing, the A’s haven’t really won anything yet.

  7. Doesn’t the fairer sex need a bone? In less than 48 hours this trailer will be recut with a closeup scene of Pitt looking longingly with regret into Robin Wright’s eyes.

  8. I don’t recall ever seeing a trailer that featured an Academy Award winner (who wasn’t playing a mute) that, whenever they cut to them, the actor didn’t say a word.

  9. Saw a screener of this back in early May – the majority of the movie is Pitt grimacing alone, and some of Pitt/Hill. PSH was in it for less than 10 minutes.

  10. Is Pjm the same guy who was saying that no modern actors have recognizable voices, and they’re all shit? He sounds like the oldest man in the world.

    Disco is right: Pitt’s Jaw deserves some sort of award for the one-two punch of Basterds/Tree of Life. Some serious jaw and chin acting going on there.

    I miss his hand thing, though. Taran Killam did a pretty good impression of it on SNL. Kind of like a soft air-karate chop. He uses it when he’s explaining something to someone, and also to point. It’s his own version of Harrison Ford’s finger of doom.

  11. I didn’t realize Paul DePodesta got them to change his character’s name to “Peter Brand” — DePodesta is slim and good-looking (was orig to be played by Demitri Martin) and clearly didn’t like the casting of Hill, while Billy Beane gets to look like Pitt.

  12. This will be the first Brad Pitt film that does better in the united States than overseas.

    But, fuck all if it doesn’t seem like a great film – and i can not stand baseball. Sorkin. Miller. Pitt. Hoffman. One of the films I am absolutely excited to see.

  13. I guess it works in movieland to depict the pre-Bean A’s as a hapless, bumbling, Bad News Bears-like bunch of goofballs. No, they weren’t winning rings left and right, but they weren’t exactly a single A team, either.

    And what the fuck with “Nancy”? Is she the result of harvesting protein strands from the synthetic viscera of Mary Hart?

  14. Love the Friday Night Lights vibe in the second half of the trailer.

    It looks great. Pitt has been on awesome run lately.

  15. As much as I am looking forward to the movie, the biggest problem with “Moneyball” is that it only gets you so far. Look at how many great players Beane and the A’s had ten years ago: Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Giambi, Long, Damon, Tejada, Chavez, Isringhausen, Koch… and where did it get them? 102 wins and a quick trip to the showers thanks to the Yankees. A young, cheap team doesn’t get you a championship. You need a couple of veterans to keep the kids focused and inspired… just as the A’s had during their late 80s run. Welch, Stewart, Moore, Honeycutt, Eckersley, McGwire, Lansford, Weiss, Canseco, Gallego, Henderson and Henderson, Parker… a good mix of vets and kids. That’s what wins you championships!

  16. Looks like the studio did the right thing in stepping back and getting Sorkin to rework the script and bringing in Miller. Sodergerh’s semi-documentary version may well have turned out to be a good film but not the money maker this will likely be.

  17. If you’ve read the book (or any of the script versions floating around), it’s clear the dynamic duo is Beane/DePodesta (or now, Beane/Brand): they’re the absolute central focus of the story. Hoffman, playing the role of Art Howe, is a relatively minor character.

  18. That looks GREAT, even worth sitting through Mark Steines rambling about Pitt’s family to get to the trailer. What is that mid-trailer blues-rock song they use everywhere? Kind of sick of that, though at least they avoided using that HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW? song that’s been used in every single sports movie, action movie and bro commercial for the last eight months…

    Though I’m kind of cracking up that Bennett Miller apparently went to the Tony Scott School of How to Light Night Games in Movies– like pitch-dark on the field in some of those shots, as if Gordon Willis was shooting the second game of a double-header in a darkened cellar, instead of under the 10 zillion watt flood lighting that renders night games brighter than day.

    Only major RED FLAG: Did I see that fat guy who’s married to Anna Faris in there as a ballplayer? WHY does that guy have an A-list career? I guess he was funny in “Wanted,” but in general that dude’s a Josh Gad-level nuisance, WAY too cocky for being a total schlub version of Shawn Hatosy.

    By the way, Pitt’s “jaw acting” is just that, like Liev Schreiber, he always, ALWAYS looks like he has a dip in. Schreiber’s I think is just his natural jawline, but ever since “Don’t you conden-scend to ME, man” in “True Romance,” Pitt has always looked like he has a Skoal bandit in his lower lip. He should cruise into every movie packing the can like Travolta did in “Basic.”

  19. This shows a lot of promise. A lot to love here — baseball (real and its effect on “fantasy”), the story, the book it was based on, the screenwriters. Not crazy about some of the casting, but that usually doesn’t make or break a movie for me, anyway.

    I do get the feeling, however, that Soderbergh could end up being the difference between this being a great film and merely a very interesting one. Pretty bummed when he left this project.

    And yeah — totally with bildeaux on these so-called ET hosts (wherefort art thou, Mary Hart?). I could barely even make it through the 50 seconds of this forced, depersonalized, vacuous, cue-carded banter setting up this trailer.

    “Mark, where in the world are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?”

    Hey Nancy, who in their right mind gives a good FUCK?

  20. “What is that mid-trailer blues-rock song they use everywhere?”

    Black Keys – Howlin’ for You. Overexposed to be sure, but good band (and Akron-representin’!).

    I was actually expecting much, much worse when I heard the first couple bars — the intro is nearly indistinguishable from Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part Two” (talk about tired!).

  21. “fat guy who’s married to Anna Faris”

    What, Chris Pratt? I’m sure I’ll get 350 words in response about how he’s JUST NOT FUNNY. But right now he’s one of the best things on one of the best shows on television. Okay, have at it.

  22. Remember these two reviews (one written by a guy I’ve heard from & trust as far as it goes) that I posted last March:

    http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/2011/03/what_happened_w_4.php

    That guy I know who often see films months in advance caught a version of Bennett Miller‘s Moneyball (Sony, 9.23) last night, and…well, here he is:

    “‘I loved it, and I didn’t expect to. It’s a baseball-from-the-business-angle movie, for goodness sake, and to be honest on my way over I was asking myself, ‘why am i even going?’ But this film is a triumph of storytelling, editing and a little bit of star power.

    “I gather the story is more or less the same as the one in the Michael Lewis book, so there shouldn’t be any news about the plot. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the onetime general manager of the Oakland Athletics who created a moderately hot team through shrewd analysis and a “sabermetric” approach (whatever that means) to scouting players, etc.

    “Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman give the two biggest supporting performances. Robin Wright, Kathryn Morris and Tammy Blanchard have the lead female parts.

    “Pitt is great in a non-Oscar-bait role — a renegade tough-love hardass at work, and laser-twinkling as an estranged dad. Hill is fantastic as a number-crunching nobody, and is really wonderful underplaying everything. And the baseball scenes…honestly, you won’t know if you’re seeing archival footage or recreations, and the guys playing the players…! For the most part you don’t know if you’re watching amateur actors play real ballplayers or vice versa, but it totally works.”

    “The producers are Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca and Rachel Horovitz. The script was originally written by Stan Chervin. Stephen J. Rivele, Steven Zallian and Christopher Wilkinson wrote drafts under previous director Steven Soderbergh, or so I’m given to understand. Aaron Sorkin rewrote everyone when Miller took over for Soderbergh.

    “Update: Another HE reader was there also and has this to say:

    “Sports films are almost never really ‘about’ sports. They always have a primary, more traditionally cinematic concern on their mind: a relationship on the rocks or a budding romance, the rise of the downtrodden or the triumphant return of the forgotten or discarded. Even the notion of the big game being won is a well-trodden, pedestrian conceit that serves as the usual metaphor for the final challenge a protagonist or team must face.

    Moneyball may well be the first sports film not seen through the prism of a romance a la Bull Durham, a character drama a la The Blind Side, a tragedy a la Brian’s Song, or a comedy a la Major League. Rather, it is the first of its kind: a sports film seen through the prism of sports.

    “The plot concerns Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) the general manager of the Oakland A’s, a team that has just lost several of their star players going into their 2002 season. After hiring a Yale-educated economics genius named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Beane comes up with a completely new way of drafting players using a complex method of number crunching and statistical analysis. Beane and Brand figure out that by hiring certain players who are under-valued by the league, they can mathematically improve their chances of getting players on base, thus scoring more wins. Given the process’ completely experimental nature, Beane faces constant pushback by colleagues and must struggle to see his theories through to fruition.

    “Pitt and Hill both turn in great performances, with Hill in particular killing every scene he’s in. The dough that’s settling into Pitt’s angelic features serve him well here, giving him the feel of a beat-up man cutting a path through exhaustion and frustration.

    “Director Bennett Miller, writers Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, and Sony Pictures have gone ahead and come up with something truly unique and special. Moneyball has little concern for things like drama, character arcs, or third-act thrills. There are elements of each of these things to be found in the film, but it is first and foremost a movie about baseball, about the intricacies of sports and statistics, and how a passion and deep understanding of the minutia can lead one down the possible path to victory.

    “But the victory at the end of said tunnel matters less than the process of digging through the numbers and dealing with the politics to get there. Oddly enough, a film that comes to mind when thinking about Moneyball is David Fincher’s marvelous Zodiac. The films share DNA in their obsession with obsession, a fixation on the moment-to-moment procedure of things. Moneyball is not as good a film as Zodiac, but the similarities are there.

    “Miller’s direction is subtle, leaning heavily towards clean frames and smooth steadicam movements, letting the dialogue and information pitching to take center stage. It’s hard to know where most of Moneyball’s dialogue comes from, but it doesn’t feel completely like an Aaron Sorkin screenplay and comes off more as something from Zaillian. Certain scenes feel very Sorkin-esque however (such as one where Billy sits in a room before his cadre of scouts and hilariously announces the new direction the team will be taking). The film is very well written in terms of presenting large quantities of information in a way that’s digestible, but it’s not a script filled with ‘big scenes’ or ‘powerful moments.

    “Rather, it’s largely a distillation of the very things the characters are pouring through: data and theories. The filmmakers seem to have purposely avoided doing the clich√©d moments we’ve come to expect from sports films, such as the “big locker room speech.” Just when Moneyball seems to be heading in such a direction, it boldly takes a left turn and refuses to pander to genre expectation, a move that should be applauded from a creative standpoint.

    “Contradictorily, the very things that make Moneyball special also present problems. Its deep, deep focus comes at the expense of traditionally satisfying moments. There’s very little tension present, and the story is low on drama. Granted, this is intentional by the filmmakers, but does result in a feeling that the stakes are not as high as they could be. Moneyball is always interesting, but rarely gripping. It also feels a little flabby in its current iteration, and could use some trimming.

    “Flaws aside, Moneyball is ultimately a very special studio release. Uniquely nerdy, obsessively wonky, and yet still compelling and engaging, it’s a rarity: a baseball film rife with inside baseball and proud of it. It’s a movie that becomes about itself: the filmmaking on display feels as experimental (for a big studio film) as the one taken on by the characters. In spite of the niche-like nature of its focus, Moneyball is well made enough to be appreciated by anyone that digs original filmmaking, and it’s not afraid to take a chance. Kudos to the filmmakers and Sony for taking a risk.”

  23. If MB is even half as good as Zodiac, I will be positively elated.

    Having said that, I feel like I almost need to hear that reviewer’s take on the latter film because the following passage doesn’t sound anything like Fincher’s 2007 masterpiece that I know and love:

    Moneyball is always interesting, but rarely gripping. It also feels a little flabby in its current iteration, and could use some trimming.”

  24. “Jesus, Phil, you scared me.”

    “Turn over.”

    “What time is it?”

    “I said turn over, Bennett.”

    “Right now?”

    “Turn over. Turn over. Turn over. How many fucking times do I have to tell you to turn over?”

    “Okay. You don’t have to yell.”

    “I’m not yelling. Don’t tell me I’m yelling. This is not yelling. You want me to yell, I’ll yell.”

    “I don’t want you to yell.”

    “Close your fucking mouth.”

    “Phil, please.”

    “Grab my arm like that one more time and I’m going to fucking break your hand.”

    “Okay, okay. There.”

    “Now don’t you fucking move.”

    “How’s the work print?”

    “What did I just say? I said close your fucking mouth and don’t move. That includes your big, fat fucking head.”

    “Phil?”

    “WHAT!?”

    “Don’t you think we should do something about Act III?”

    “Act III? Who do you think you are? Peter fucking Brook?”

    “No, it’s just…”

    “It’s just nothing, Bennett. Don’t you understand that? It’s just nothing.”

    “Phil?”

    “JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! WHAT!?!?!?”

    “I love you, Phil.”

    “Yeah, yeah. That’s great.”

    “I mean it.”

    “Open your mouth again and I’m going to take this lamp and smash all your teeth in.”

    “So touchy.”

    “SHUT UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

  25. Chris Pratt is one of the funniest parts of the funniest…nay, the best…show on television, so he’s doing alright for himself.

    As for the concept of Moneyball, (re: Edward Havens above)…winning championships isn’t really the point. Hardly any teams outside of the top 10 or so in payroll ever expect to win a championship – it’s simply a matter of survival, doing the absolute best you can when your payroll is literally 22% of the Yankees. When you’re playing against a quintuple-stacked deck, Moneyball is the best route to go.

  26. Do we know if DePodesta withdrew his name approval before or after it was announced that that blob Jonas Hill would be playing him?

  27. Seann William Scott is the poor man’s Seann William Scott. He’s so talentless that he’s not even good at his own schtick.

    Don’t hate on Pratt for perfecting it and improving it. Besides, you’re acting like Scott is the first to ever play a rather dumb big guy.

  28. They played fast and loose with a lot of the real-life details of some people, so I imagine eight script changes later (Beane went from a bachelor to married, back and forth several times) DePodesta saw no relation between his character and real life.

    I’m aboard this, but the subject matter (and not the rah-rah winning baseball stuff) seems like the sort of thing that will interest me and nine other people.

  29. “I’m aboard this, but the subject matter (and not the rah-rah winning baseball stuff) seems like the sort of thing that will interest me and nine other people.”

    Which is a good thing, right? Shouldn’t movies branch out and be about new concepts that might not have mass appeal? Maybe you’ll become interested in the subject, who knows?

    Better than another comic book movie that has the interest of 9 million.

  30. Yeah, I know you’re not gonna listen, Lex, but Parks and Recreation is an incredible show, and Chris Pratt is a huge part of it.

  31. Gee, I didn’t know making fun of some hack NBC sitcom strokeoff was like making fun of people’s first-born. SERIOUSLY, go to IMDB and read Chris Pratt’s bio on the front page, and if it doesn’t make you want to kill yourself, I have some Manhattan real estate for you. He was some dickoff living in Hawaii with his bros, and RAE DAWN CHONG came into the restaurant where he was working, he made her laugh, so she cast him as the lead in her movie, and he was all “What the hell?” and moved to LA and started booking auditions.

    FUCK this guy. I’ve lived in L.A. for 16 years, and I wouldn’t even KNOW where to go about looking for auditions. This guy’s a DOUCHE. Fuck him, fuck Parks and Rec, and ban this fat Hatosy wannabe from starring in real movies.

  32. At the risk of sounding cranky, I’ll go back to the nursing home if you folks would go out and see and think about some actual movies some time, instead of frothing over the garbage that’s fed to you by the studios (for whom I have written scripts, by the way).

  33. Pjm, this thread should’ve closed after your first post. Right on the money.

    As much as he tries, Pitt will never be Redford. I liked him in Tree of Life, but then I think that Ledger would’ve done better.

  34. I dont know what to say. This blog is fantastic. Thats not really a really huge statement, but its all I could come up with after reading this. You know so much about this subject. So much so that you made me want to learn more about it. Your blog is my stepping stone, my friend. Thanks for the heads up on this subject.

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