Moneyball Merit, Pitt’s Compassion

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill sat for a q & a last night with Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger after a screening of Moneyball at Sony Studios. I’m not ignoring what they said or the still-potent pleasures of the film, but the standout moment was Pitt’s gentle handling of a strange, inappropriate confession from a gloomy guy in the left-front row who said he’d been feeling depressed and was “contemplating suicide.” Everybody in the room whispered “what the fuck?” but Pitt took it in stride and offered a nice brotherly reply.


Brad Pitt at Sony’s Cary Grant theatre following last night’s Moneyball q &a.

Here’s a super-dark YouTube clip with decent audio of the depressed guy. (It starts at the 42-second mark.) Cool-hand Pitt delivered a common-sense riff about the up-and-down-ness of things, and in a relaxed, no-big-deal sort of way. He gave the guy a little “chin up” and “I know it’s tough but it’ll get better.” The sound system was really echo-y so it’s hard to hear much but Pitt said that “life is cyclical…when you’re up and you’re up and when you’re down you’re down…it is tough, man…it’s tough…but man, it’s cyclical.”

After the discussion broke Pitt was mobbed by fans (mostly women) looking for photos and a word or two, but Pitt went over to the sad guy (whose depression, I gather, was over job and money prospects) and talked with him a bit more.

The Pitt-Hill discussion followed a 6:30 pm showing of Bennett Miller‘s Moneyball, which — yes, we need to do this once again — is still easily, absolutely and obviously the best film of the year so far, or is at least tied for that distinction alongside The Descendants.

It’s so much finer and smarter and more skillfully directed, written and performed than all the late-arriving Best Picture twirlybirds (especially and definitely including War Horse and The Artist and Hugo) that…I don’t want to get out the hammer but is there something in the water or what? The Artist, a bright shimmering bauble and a charming, silver-toned curio, is a hotter Best Picture contender than effing Moneyball? An almost comically schmaltzy, old-time manipulative Steven Spielberg horse film deserves more Best Picture love? Are we all living inside the Truman Show dome? If so, would it be okay if I become a heroin addict?


Pitt, Hill, Karger.

I realize, of course, that Moneyball doesn’t deliver conventional satisfactions (no big win at the end, no Natural-style home run, no cute dog) but it’s so amazingly singular and patient and wise and masterful. The fact that Miller allows the soundtrack to go utterly silent on several occasions is awesome in itself. Unlike other sports films and their standard strategems, it probably takes a couple of viewings to really get what Moneyball is throwing.

Plus it contains Pitt’s finest performance of his career and the best swaggering-movie-star performance in a long while. George Clooney doesn’t “swagger” as Matt King in The Descendants — he’s playing an anxious, grief-struck dad who settles into a tough situation and comes out of it in a stronger, slightly less selfish, more father-like place. Pitt’s Billy Beane is also besieged and uncertain, but he’s a little more of a kick to hang with. So perhaps he’s a notch or two ahead of Clooney…maybe.

And 28 year-old Hill slips into a new realm or membrane of some kind. His Peter Brand character is mostly about analytical brainpower, but he’s a guy who loves to stay out of things. His greatest comfort is blending in with the walls and the furniture. The pleasure of Hill’s performance is in the silences, the unspoken stuff, the stillnesses, the looks of terror and trepidation. It’s a major growth-spurt role, and absolutely deserving of Best Supporting Actor honors, partly because Hill’s decision not to do just raunchy comedies like Get Him To The Greek and The Sitter represents the best instinct or impulse that an actor can have, which is to move up the ladder by growing his or her game.

Here‘s the mp3 but good luck with understanding it due to an echo effect caused by the Sony tech guys. Pitt, Hill and Karger’s voices were audible to those in the first few rows, but their amplified voices came out of a pair of speakers in the rear which created a delayed-echo effect. Pitt would say “I’d like-like to give-give credit-credit to Bennett-Bennett Miller-Miller,” etc. Plus the mikes didn’t work half the time. (Pitt threw his to the ground.) Plus there was no light on the trio so you couldn’t really see much.

I’m sorry but the Sony tech guys get a failing grade and five demerits each. If I was their boss I would ream their ass.

35 thoughts on “Moneyball Merit, Pitt’s Compassion

  1. Dammit, CAME IN HERE TO MAKE THE SAME JOKE.

    Guess it’s no longer a joke, but a fact.

    I wonder though: would having even a BONAFIDE MOVIE STAR cheering Lex up in public be enough to cheer him up?

  2. Is every post from now until the end of February going to include a gratuitous War Horse slam? If so, others among us might also contemplate suicide.

  3. Yeah, he would probably get pissed that it was Pitt who said it. Rich, good looking, movie star, head of hair, and married to superstar Jolie. Jonah Hill would have had more of an impact.

  4. BTW, funny how Wells is almost always negative and disparaging about Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino, and yet the Rod Luries and Bennett Millers of the world are just aces. Bet the “movie gods” have a good laugh when they come here.

  5. yeah, I bet the guy was actually depressed about the thriving career of Spielberg. Is there any subject into which you can’t inject a War Horse insult?

  6. “It’s so much finer and smarter and more skillfully directed, written and performed than all the late-arriving Best Picture twirlybirds (especially and definitely including War Horse and The Artist and Hugo)…”

    “…so amazingly singular and patient and wise and masterful.”

    Wow. This is just getting silly now.

  7. I haven’t seen Moneyball, but I’d much rather Pitt’s Oscar buzz be for Tree of Life. Despite what I think of the movie, he was great.

  8. That depressed guy was probably none other than our own LexG. Am I right, people? I knew he went to these screenings but I – what? Oh shit.

    Nevermind.

    And Pitt’s performance, while great, was better in Tree of Life.

    And “Budd” Durden… thanks for the laugh. Nice.

    And I guess it’s official now… “Moneyball” is this year’s “Social Network”/”Zodiac”. That is, Jeffrey’s baby. “all competitors SUCK!”

  9. Like a good soldier, Jeff is going down with the Moneyball ship, but he is torpedoing every other film in his wake before going under.

    Consult the Gold Derby, Jeff…Moneyball is sinking like a stone…it is on the bubble for a nomination, much less a win in Best Picture.

  10. If it were me, which it wouldn’t be, because most anyone who asks a question at a Q and A is an automatic asshole, especially people who grab a mic with self-serving look-at-me/read-my-script bullshit… But if it had been, I’d have had some goddamn showmanship, unlike this mumbling, stuttering, get-to-the-point motherfucker.

    But nice and generous as Pitt’s answer is, face the facts… it DOESN’T get better, THIS DUDE’S life probably isn’t cyclical, there isn’t gonna be a some GIANT PAYDAY for 99% of “us” in this life… Real easy for a genetically-blessed multimillionaire to say “chin up, it gets better,” but some people have hair loss and heart conditions, impotence or emotional problems, disfigurements and horrible jobs, debt that they’ll never pay off, EVER… It’s NOT gonna get better for most people, it’s just that most people stop trying and try like hell to fool themselves into believing they’re okay with their lower station in life… Not everybody’s dream is gonna come true, and taking it wider, this whole culture of IT GETS BETTER where (to quote one of Pitt’s movies) everyone is this special snowflake isn’t doing anybody any good…

    Ah, fuck it, I don’t even wanna rehash this tired shit for the EIGHT ZILLIONTH fucking time, it’s the same shit, but whoever this douche hogging the mike is, I’m pretty sure he’s never gonna be BRAD PITT or Jonah Hill or Bennett Miller… But what does a guy like that (ie, me) DO? A guy who’d get up and say I’M GONNA KILL MYSELF IF I’M NOT A DIRECTOR/ACTOR/STAR is NOT going to be happy working an accounting job the rest of his life… NOT gonna be happy marrying an Asian chick who needs a green card… There’s not one thing on this planet that would make some people happy other than FAME AND MONEY, and if you’re not going to achieve those two things, ever, it’s pretty hard to be won over by “buck up, champ, your time will come.”

    Most people’s “time” never comes. They just settle and pretend they’re happy. Fame and money and sex are the only things worth striving for in this world, and fuck EVERYTHING ELSE.

  11. Lex- bro youre the best

    The only thing I would add is once you hit your mid 40′s you can’t even pretend to be happy.

    Surgery without health insurance was my tipping point

    now 4 years later other parts of the old bod are breakin down and the day is comin when they’ll be takin me away again

    Fuck it I say

    The only thing that’ll make me happy is when the world will go full on ROAD WARRIOR!

  12. “And I guess it’s official now… “Moneyball” is this year’s “Social Network”/”Zodiac”. That is, Jeffrey’s baby. ‘all competitors SUCK!’”

    We’ve joked for years about “The Poland Curse”… is it time to start referring to “The Wells Curse”? Poland picks absolute no-shots, Wells picks the proverbial second-place finishers?

  13. If the depressed guy was 20 years younger, Brad would have had Angie adopt him.

    Sadly, Lex doesnt fit their adoption profile either.

  14. “Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, which — yes, we need to do this once again — is still easily, absolutely and obviously the best film of the year so far”

    I’m a “Tree of Life” devotee, so “Moneyball” is my #2 this year, but I’m totally with you on the film. It would top so many other years for me.

  15. LOOK AT PITT’S GODLIKE HAIR.

    He’s not quite up to Cruise Hair, Bridges/Russell Hair, or 2001-era heroin’d out Phil Anselmo as THE GREATEST HAIR EVER, but isn’t Pitt like 48 or something? What is it like to have ACTUAL THICK HAIR ON YOUR HEAD into one’s 30s and 40s? That’s reason enough to commit suicide right there.

    Hey, Brad, my fucked-up hair loss isn’t CYCLICAL… That shit’s never coming back, and AT BEST CASE, I could get the BOSLEY and have it lasered into the scalp, but when you get that you have to rock that TOM ARNOLD/ROBIN WILLIAMS look the entire rest of your life…

    And again, Pitt’s a cool dude and didn’t have to humor this pathetic tool whatsoever, but some people really CAN’T SEE their lives EVER getting any better.

    I’m 39. I’m 240-some pounds, bald, I have the booze neck of Hank Hill… I’m not gonna go back to OPEN MIC and take the LA comedy circuit by storm… Not gonna sell a screenplay, because who would read it? (NOBODY)…. Can’t get headshots because there’s no way to shoot my head that doesn’t make me look like my scalp is totally eroded and repulsive…

    All I can do is keep working DESK JOBS as I have for SIXTEEN YEARS STRAIGHT with no time off, no industry contacts, no time to audition or write, having to be on call for clients and meeting DEADLINES and working in an office where some long talker will tell me about his chili recipe for six goddamn minutes when I just wanna heat up my Lean Cuisine.

    That’s not living… That’s FUCKING HELL, watching your body die and looks fade and money go down the toilet, watching your debt swell from a thousand or so to TENS OF THOUSANDS which you’ll NEVER pay back, borrowing money from ex wives and your mom like you’re two fucking years old… Having your parents say YOU SHOULD GET OUT OF LA, as if I’d be OH SO FUCKING HAPPY working at a bookstore in Youngstown, Ohio, where I’d still be ugly and bald in an era where everyone’s hit the gym since age 12.

    LIFE FUCKING SUCKS, it’s not CYCLICAL, it’s ALWAYS SHITTY and depressing and you go on and on but it never gets any better, you just get unhappier and your cock stops working and you don’t know if it doesn’t work because it doesn’t work, or because you haven’t been within sixteen yards of a woman since 2002 or a NEW WOMAN in two decades.

    Guys like Pitt– hell, fuck it, GUYS LIKE WELLS HIMSELF– don’t have JOBS, don’t work in OFFICES, don’t have bills and debts that they’re nowhere near paying off, don’t have exes and obligations and DIRECT DEPOSIT and FIGHTS OVER THE AIR CONDITIONING WITH THE ANEMIC HIPSTER MOTHERFUCKER IN THE RUN DMC SHIRT you have to share an office with and can’t eat at your desk because there’s no white noise and you sound like a pig at a trough just trying to delicately eat your terrible Italian BMT while Elsewhere crashes your browser 60 fucking times just trying to make this point.

  16. Years ago Esquire did a profile of Woody Allen, in which the writer reported that he and Woody were walking in Manhattan and came upon an Hispanic couple having a violent argument in a parked car. Woody stuck his head into the car and calmed down the strangers.

  17. I remember when this site used to be so much fun to drop in on. Lots of insightful commentary, interesting takes on different subjects and a certain – albeit conditional – amount of respect for others views. But it’s slowly deteriorated into something, while not sinister, more akin to a circus atmosphere.

    I don’t post very often, but I feel compelled to today. During the course of the past year HE has become the LexG show and everyone seems to love to discuss the bi-polar psychosis of the balding, self-hating fart. It’s like a fucking Kardashian show and such a waste of talent to read over and over the analysis of this pathetic little man. I don’t know Lex and if he’s really as completely and totally fucked up as he makes out – and isn’t just spewing it for attention – then too bad for him, I hope he gets himself help like myself and others here have done during the course of managing their lives and environment. But it isn’t therapy to log on and post about how awful life is. Once it gets to that point then just do it man. It’s so tiring to bring up the comments for a post about a specific movie or director or function or general observatons about “FILM” and see that at least half the time it becomes rants and discussions about some middle aged loser who keeps threatening to kill himself while trying to convince everyone else how awful breathing is.

    This is so much more than depressing. Intelligent, thoughtful discussion and interaction is what most of us – I think – are looking for, but it’s no longer found here at HE.

    And yes, I know I’m falling right into this sewer by posting this, but it’ll be the last. I just had to vent. I love when the different arguments and discussions about “FILM” take place and very rarely it can still be found here, but very, VERY rarely anymore. So sad.

    Jeff, you’re topics are great most of the time but when a discussion about a Q and A or the sound levels in a particular theater or the sights and sounds of a film festival becomes a thread on Lex wanting to kill himself because he can’t pick up a teenager selling popcorn at the movies because he’s a fat loser with no future, then I think I’ve had enough.

    I HAVE to believe I’m not the only one who feels this way – maybe I am.

    Jeff, in the words of Ron Burgundy “stay classy”.

    Lex, in the words of Barnes from Platoon “do it”.

  18. >The Descendants and Moneyball …. I’m glad that we have Hollywood-Elsewhere to help us push the edge of cinema.

    It’s not just about pushing the edge of cinema, particularly where Oscars are concerned. There’s something to be said for good, solid, smart narrative entertainment, both of which Moneyball and The Descendants deliver in spades.

  19. Gotta agree with the peanut guy. Been reading JW since the late 90s, and would like to see more movie stuff & less drama & angst.

    In 2007 at the age of 40, I walked 500 miles on the Camino Frances trail in Spain to reevaluate my life. I was an Xian when I started, an agnostic when I finished, and am now an atheist.

    In short, you either change your stars or accept them. and I say that as an aging bald chap who misses youth, but doesn’t miss being young.

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