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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Keith Law: Moneyball

I’m sorta reminded of the time Effin’ Stink Lad (non-LOSH) cruised a dump on D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage because he was too close to the action.

Moneyball, the movie, is an absolute mess of a film, the type of muddled end product you’d expect from a project that took several years and went through multiple writers and directors. Even good performances by a cast of big names and some clever makeup work couldn’t save this movie, and if I hadnt been planning to review it, I would have walked out.

...Then there’s the baseball stuff, which is not good. For starters, the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn’t any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets. It’s cheap writing, and unfair to the real people being depicted. Current Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota also gets murdered in a drive-by line that depicts him as a clueless intern given the head scouting role after Beane fires Grady Fuson in April after a clubhouse argument (that never really happened). I’ll confess to laughing at the scout referring to “this Bill James bullshit,” although the A’s bought into that bullshit years before the film claims they did - and, in fact, hired Paul Depodesta three years before the movie-A’s hired Brand. (In the film, Fuson refers to Brand as “Google boy,” a term applied to Depodesta by Luddite beat writers in LA three years later.)

 

Repoz Posted: September 14, 2011 at 10:46 AM | 326 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, books, media, reviews, site news

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   301. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 14, 2011 at 10:49 PM (#3925305)
How did Law and Gleeman get to see this early? I thought it wasn't coming out until 9/23. I can see how JonW got a sneak peek. He's in the biz.
   302. zenbitz Posted: September 14, 2011 at 10:55 PM (#3925310)
Movie I was sure I was gonna hate but was quite funny:

Date Night. (Tina Fey). I actually watched this on Date Night.
   303. Dave Spiwak Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#3925314)
This is a write-up from the AV Club -- one of their writers went to a 'Saw' marathon ('Sawfest') back in 2008... as far as movie-going experiences, I always thought this was funny since some lady thought the lone audience member at a 'Saw' marthon would be an OK temporary surrogate caretaker for her teenager.

link

4:00 p.m. It begins. Apart from me, the theater is entirely empty.

...

4:13 p.m. A woman walks into the theater. I've got company. She moves into my row, which is a little odd. Okay, now she's walking right up to me. "Are you here for the whole thing?" she asks. "Uh, yes," I stammer, more unnerved by her presence than anything onscreen. It turns out her teenage son and a group of his friends are in the lobby, but the staff won't admit them without an adult guardian. Will I come up front and vouch for them so a bunch of 16-year-olds can sit through 10 hours of sadism and gore? Sure, why not?
   304. OsunaSakata Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:06 PM (#3925318)
How did Law and Gleeman get to see this early? I thought it wasn't coming out until 9/23. I can see how JonW got a sneak peek. He's in the biz.


I got a free pass as a member of the local film society. There were about six rows reserved for film critics. It's pretty easy to get them with the right connections.
   305. JE (Jason) Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:22 PM (#3925327)
How did Law and Gleeman get to see this early? I thought it wasn't coming out until 9/23. I can see how JonW got a sneak peek. He's in the biz.

There were about six rows reserved for film critics. It's pretty easy to get them with the right connections.

So much for the marketing company's demand that all reviews be embargoed until the 23rd!
   306. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:34 PM (#3925331)
Look, the guy's not perfect -- we knew that way back when, thanks to that snoozefest with Tom Cruise. But Alien? Blade Runner? Gladiator? Black Hawk Down?


I wish the Ridley Scott that made the first 2 of those ... had made the last 2 as well.
   307. Danny Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:47 PM (#3925341)
Michael Lewis responds:

"Billy [Beane] called me and said Keith Law had sent him his review. I looked at it and I thought, What's he talking about?" Lewis told Moviefone earlier on Wednesday. "It's very weird that he's on this. He's intellectually dishonest, and I don't know to what purpose."

...

"I don't understand why he goes from being -- when I interviewed Keith Law, and I did, at length -- he was so nasty about scouts and scouting culture and the stupidity of baseball insiders. He was the reductio ad absurdum of the person who was the smarty pants who had been brought into the game and was smarter than everybody else. He alienated people. And now he's casting himself as someone who sees the value of the old school. I can't see where this is all heading and why. But I learned from experience that the best thing to do is ignore it, because it goes away."
   308. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:48 PM (#3925342)
I will lose all credibility for saying this, but one movie that dramatically exceeded expectations was The Girl Next Door. It was funny. And moving. Elisha Cuthbert is hot. Timothy Olyphant is a great likable villain. Perfect for what it was.

Forgot about this movie but I remember liking it. I think it introduced me to "Pressure."
   309. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:54 PM (#3925345)
Ooooh, fight, fight, fight!

Keith Law responds (same link):

UPDATE: The back-and-forth continues! Responding via Twitter, Law writes "Except he didn't trash my review. He trashed me - the standard ad hominem when you can't address the arguments on the table."
   310. Lassus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:11 AM (#3925355)
But Alien? Blade Runner? Gladiator? Black Hawk Down?

I remember renting Black Rain about 1000 years ago and thinking I might have had some kind of embolism while I was renting it that made me think it was done by the same guy who had done Aliens and Blade Runner. That film was the worst piece of trash I have ever seen.
   311. asdf1234 Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:26 AM (#3925358)
Keith Law is a Mamet character made flesh.
   312. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:36 AM (#3925363)
I think Law has lost his mind I think his ad hominen argument might work if only he wasn't so hypocrital about it he's been trashes others motives rather than addressing their arguments

Of course I haven't seen the film he may be wholly right about the film but the way he's been responding to his critics is not the way to do it I don't think
   313. Danny Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:47 AM (#3925369)
Billy [Beane] called me and said Keith Law had sent him his review.

Did Eli send you that?
Mm-hmm. He always sends me his clippings.
What for?
I think he just likes the encouragement.
   314. Something Other Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:05 AM (#3925442)
Good thread.

I would have walked out of this, if I could, but I was being paid to project it.

Trust me: Nine bucks an hour ain't enough.
The tagline, "IT'S A LIVE-ACTION RUGRATS!!!" wasn't enough to alert you to call in sick?

I would have walked out of Pulp Fiction (Hell I would have run), but I was with a woman and couldn't desert her. After the movie she asked if I liked the movie and I said no, she said she wished I'd said something because she hated it and wanted to leave too.

You didn't like Pulp Fiction? That's in my top ten movies of all time!
Am I the only one who thinks Pulp Fiction is a pretty good, albeit seriously flawed movie--in other words, nothing special--with some very good bits (the diner scene, the playing with time, the early scene with Travolta and Jackson in the apartment) and plenty of things that didn't work (everything with Willis's girlfriend, a lot of the Travolta-Thurman business [waaaay too long])?

Have you ever been the ONLY person watching a movie?
Fairly often--there was a cheap 12plex not far from where I lived, I was going through a bad spell after a relationship was ending, and I went to movies six nights a week. (Which seemed reasonable--after all, spending a couple of hours a night in front of the time when you need distracting is pretty ordinary.) The 12plex was in the process of going out of business, and I was routinely the only person watching a given movie. One night the pretty ticket seller took the seat behind me in an otherwise empty theater and we wound up getting.... involved, and dating for a while. So, yeah, I've got some pretty good memories of the empty theater experience.

I remember cutting class with some friends in high school and seeing Fear, starring a pre-credible Mark Wahlberg and pre-fame Reese Witherspoon. It was the middle of the day on a weekday during the school year, so we had the theater to ourselves and MSTK3 the whole thing. It was a blast.

Referring to Shooty's #95 and speaking of Reese Witherspoon, I did not expect to enjoy Legally Blonde as much as I did. Sure, it's formulaic as hell but she was just an absolute joy to watch.
Yup--startled me too. Unexpectedly pleasant: GalaxyQuest, Knocked Up, The 13 episode tv series Day Break; Paul Blart: Mall Cop (I know--but I'd never seen the actor in anything before, and there was no profanity or brutal murders. A surprisingly sweet, gentle comedy); 2004 Dawn of the Dead; The Bourne Identity.

Law:
The film also relies on some pretty gross misrepresentations or oversimplifications of the business. The idea of a GM getting on a plane and flying two thirds of the way across the country to meet another GM to discuss a trade for a left-handed reliever is so absurd that it should set off alarm bells in even the casual fan. Do you really think that GMs only talk trades in person?
A trivial complaint, and the last sentence is a non sequitur. Were I a casual fan, sure, I might think that, since even a LOOGY can pull down several million a year, a GM might spend some hours on a plane to try to push the deal through. People fly all the time with much, much less at stake. At any rate, if this is the kind of thing you're going to ##### about, you simply don't understand film.

Btw, what's up with "comedies" where there are a lot of killings? Knight and Day wasn't anything special to being with, but its decent moments were undercut by, what, thirty deaths in the first twenty minutes?
   315. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:26 AM (#3925454)
Keith Law is a Mamet character made flesh.


This means there is nothing recognizably human about Keith Law, which is probably your point. But, man, that's a mean comment.

A trivial complaint, and the last sentence is a non sequitur. Were I a casual fan, sure, I might think that, since even a LOOGY can pull down several million a year, a GM might spend some hours on a plane to try to push the deal through. People fly all the time with much, much less at stake. At any rate, if this is the kind of thing you're going to ##### about, you simply don't understand film.


Completely agree. I mean this is pretty basic stuff about how films need to make some things more gripping and dramatic than they would be in real life. A lot of the correspondence between general managers happens over the phone, in emails (I'd guess), and those are not especially cinematic modes of communication.
   316. smileyy Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:38 AM (#3925461)
Pulp Fiction is one of those movies that's great if you saw it when it was released. It was groundbreaking. Years later movies have either abused the film concepts Pulp Fiction popularized, or done them better. Either way, it makes Pulp Fiction seem cliche or pale in comparison.

Clerks and Mallrats also fit this mold.
   317. Tuque Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:45 AM (#3925468)
one movie that dramatically exceeded expectations was The Girl Next Door.

I just watched that movie the night before last. I wouldn't say it was good, but it was surprisingly charming at parts.

Another movie like that was Easy A. I liked that. It wasn't good, exactly, but it was fun, and likeable, and Emma Stone is one of those young actresses who is not only hot but also has the ability to come off as smart and self-aware.

Lindsay Lohan had that ability too, though, so who knows what that means.
   318. Ephus Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:49 AM (#3925472)
Saw River's Edge with no idea of what to expect. It blew me away. Ione Skye is the Jeff Stone of actresses.
   319. Something Other Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:13 AM (#3925489)
Look, the guy's not perfect -- we knew that way back when, thanks to that snoozefest with Tom Cruise. But Alien? Blade Runner? Gladiator? Black Hawk Down?



I wish the Ridley Scott that made the first 2 of those ... had made the last 2 as well.
Yup. #### happens, and it's very, very tough to be as creative in your fifties and on as you were before then. Some forms of art reward age, but they're often solo or fairly solo endeavors: architecture, painting, and few others. Especially in something like film, where creating is so intimately involved with so many other people, and you have to be out and around 72+ hours a week, if you lose much energy or pull your career is in real trouble. Stamina is actually extremely important to most directors short of the ones who have complete control over the process and can cover their shortcomings, but those are few in number.

Ever been to a crappy comedy where there's just that one guy who laughs at every scene on his own? Always wondered what it's like to be that guy.
Don't know, but I went to a live theater performance of Romeo and Juliet. One of the company's actors, who didn't have a part in the play, sat next to me during intermission, then laughed uproariously during all the most painful parts, including the death scenes. We nearly had a fistfight. What a moron.

Battleship looks like Navy versus Aliens, and they just used the title to jumpstart the ad campaign. It also looks... not very interesting. Taylor Kitsch (horrible name for an actor) doesn't have a lot of dramatic weight. Good for tv, but he just doesn't seem like leading man material.
   320. asdf1234 Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:23 AM (#3925555)
This means there is nothing recognizably human about Keith Law, which is probably your point.


Not to get away from bashing Law, but Mamet perfectly captures the weasel heart of humanity while noting its occasional decency (Redbelt and the Verdict come to mind). I've watched plenty of Mamet and plenty of Sorkin, and I can readily say that only one of these writers creates recognizably human characters, though Sorkin partially redeemed his career of false notes with a hilarious guest spot on 30 Rock.

Back to Keith, he's played a pretty significant role in the sabermetric and baseball communities for more than a decade now, but I have yet to understand what he brings to the table. By the time he arrived on the scene, we already had the Big Bad Baseball Annual, Joe Sheehan, and other writers-not-statisticians who could dole out the sarcasm and opprobrium for appropriate targets. Law hasn't innovated, he's not a particularly interesting or lyrical writer, and he doesn't even bring the audacity and arrogance of a Cameron to the table. Good for him that he's made a career out of throwing bombs and perpetuating the Ricciardi feud, but I have a hard time seeing him as anything more than our version of Ann Coulter minus the bestsellers. Seeing Law savage a movie made by the director of Capote is like having a high-school senior critique Henry James's literary talents. Maybe there's legitimate criticism to be had in either case, but we're not going to get it from this class of critic.

But on to the important stuff. I've walked out of two movies in my life, the first being Spawn when I was still in high school and the second the Other Boleyn Girl a couple of years back. I'm particularly proud of the latter, as it took real skill to convince my date to walk out of a Johansson/Portman historical romance and still continue the evening. Probably the high point of the dating year, there. Last week I talked myself out of walking out of Crazy, Stupid Love on the chance that barflies Carell and Gosling might start acting like characters who weren't written by Twilight-confounded preteen girls. I was in shock when I found out that this gooey disaster was by the creative team that gave us Bad Santa and the Bad News Bears remake.
   321. OsunaSakata Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:11 AM (#3925559)
I have a hard time seeing him as anything more than our version of Ann Coulter minus the bestsellers.


How does Keith Law look in a miniskirt?
   322. Rusty Priske Posted: September 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM (#3925581)
Worst Date Movie:

An ex-gf and I went to see The Accused on our first date. It was a couple of years after she had been raped.

(Aside: she knew what it was about and asked me to go with her. It wasn't stupid me who picked the movie...)
   323. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 16, 2011 at 12:10 PM (#3926738)
We need this movie and this movie.


Isn't the second one basically this?

Also people here need to really start typing the actual name of the movie they are talking about instead of 'this', when they link to imdb pages. Making people click on the link to find out wtf you are talking about is just ###### annoying as ###.
   324. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 16, 2011 at 12:23 PM (#3926743)
Battleship looks like Navy versus Aliens, and they just used the title to jumpstart the ad campaign. It also looks... not very interesting. Taylor Kitsch (horrible name for an actor) doesn't have a lot of dramatic weight. Good for tv, but he just doesn't seem like leading man material.


From the trailor it looks like Armageddon. I fully expect Liam Neeson to sacrifice himself at the end, so that the soldier boyfriend of his daughter, whom he disapproves of, survives.
   325. Rollie Fingers' moustache Posted: September 23, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#3934234)
I went with a friend to see "A Thin Red Line" and hated it. I probably should have seen at least one of Mallick's movies beforehand to know what I was getting myself into. Speaking about something different than the book, I'm sure if Law was a marine and saw this movie his head would have exploded.
   326. Rollie Fingers' moustache Posted: September 23, 2011 at 06:35 PM (#3934242)
Wonder if this movie is going to be in 3D?

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