Over a week removed from Russia, and I think I’ve recovered enough at last (physically, at least; the psychological and emotional damage remains) to start updating on a regular basis again. You can expect the long-awaited second half of my Coolest Actors list soon, along with some commentary on the latest big news from the Academy. But for now, the easy stuff. Trailers!
Errol Morris is quite possibly my favorite documentarian of all time. His debut film, “Gates of Heaven,” a quirky observational film about a pet cemetery, is one of the most unexpectedly poignant movies you’ll ever see. With “The Thin Blue Line,” he successfully proved that a Texas convict, Randall Dale Adams, had been sentenced to the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit (as a result of the film, the case was reviewed and Adams released from prison). His recent work like “The Fog of War” and “Standard Operating Procedure” has proven that he’s the savviest, most incisive interviewer in the business; in contrast to the more abrasive style of Michael Moore and his ilk, Morris is interested in what people have to say for themselves, even (or perhaps especially) those that society has labelled as villains. His ingenious invention, the Interrotron, allows Morris’ subjects to speak directly to him and to the camera at the same time, resulting, I think, in a level of emotional authenticity unmatched by traditional interviewing methods. So, any new film by Morris is sure to pique my interest, especially when he’s tackling such a bizarrely fascinating topic as the “Mormon sex in chains case.” When compared to Robert McNamara and the Abu Ghraib perpetrators, Joyce McKinney seems like a positively benign subject, but she certainly seems just as enigmatic.
I’m going to try to get over the ridiculousness of Brad Pitt playing Billy Beane and look at the good in this trailer. Witty dialogue from Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian – good. Excellent supporting cast, including Jonah Hill in non-Apatow mode, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright and Chris Pratt – good. A story that’s inspirational and uplifting but can’t get too over the top (spoiler alert that’s not really a spoiler because it’s based on history: despite their successes, Oakland never actually won the World Series) – good. A movie based on sabermetrics – good if you’re a baseball geek like me.
But did I mention how absurd it is that Brad Pitt is playing Billy Beane?