How about a Brad Pitt-themed movie review post today? It’s Tuesday. Why not?

You can also read these and many other of my film reviews over on my Film page.

“Moneyball”: Looooo-hoooooved it! I am a fan of the baseball movie, I will admit. My husband may be shocked to know that, for most of my life, I loved all things baseball. I loved watching my brother play Little League. I loved eating candy from the concession stand. I loved collecting baseball cards {and where are those cards, little brother?}. I loved that crappy, crisp, broken, stale stick of gum inside a pack of Top Deck baseball cards. I loved the Oakland A’s {more specifically, my Jose Canseco poster in middle school}. I loved Don Mattingly. I love the movie “Bull Durham” to bits. I. loved. boys. who. played. baseball. Especially pitchers. But they always broke my heart. They should come with some kind of warning label. And then I met my husband, the ultimate frisbee player who used to be…a swimmer. I breathed a sigh of relief and said goodbye to all things baseball-related.

What brings me back to the baseball film again and again is the nostalgia it evokes, both for me, personally, and also for a time when the game was just somehow different. I was leery of this film only because it is a true story, and baseball isn’t always what I’d built it up to be, growing up. Enter Brad Pitt {who I also love and used to have a poster of in my dorm room; remember his hair in “Legends of the Fall”? Exactly. If that man cries, I cry. And don’t get me started on my “I <3 Brad Pitt” t-shirt I had in college. It disappeared in my freshman dorm, and I have never been the same.}. He plays Billy Beane, general manager of the A’s. Things aren’t looking good, and the franchise just doesn’t have much money compared to certain east coast powerhouses. Now enter Jonah Hill, a big time statistics dude who turns the whole game into numbers. Together, they start getting players no one thinks are any good because his character just looks at it all mathematically, which was revolutionary. Hill and Pitt have amazing chemistry, but the scene-stealer for me is one of my favorite, most versatile actors: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. His character opposes Pitt at every turn and sometimes gets  hopping mad. It’s very entertaining! The movie also has a parallel thread of Pitt, his daughter and his ex, played by Robin Wright {formerly Penn}. This part really tugs at the heart strings.

I hands-down recommend this movie, if you haven’t seen it yet. It made me love baseball again for roughly two hours, and it showed that Brad Pitt’s still got it, as if we ever doubted him.

“The Tree of Life”: This movie could not be more different than the other Brad Pitt movie, “Moneyball,” released in the same year. I fell asleep at parts, and my husband and I talked of turning it off. I think we finally fast-forwarded through the weird parts, just to get to the story. It has two very different things going on, though I suppose they are connected in a very artistic way that I noticed but just didn’t enjoy. On one hand, there’s the story of the tumultuous childhood of our main character, played by the ever-awesome Sean Penn. In this part of the movie, we see flashbacks to his time growing up under the thumb of his authoritarian, hot-headed, intimidating dad, played by Brad Pitt with a flat-top haircut. He looked so mean and was so. very. mean. He really had it out for just one of his three sons, his oldest, which is the younger Sean Penn. If he let a screen door slam, Pitt’s character would make him go back and close it quietly, not once, but one hundred times. The poor kid’s saving grace was his mom, played by the delightfully talented Jessica Chastain of “The Help.” You could surmise that her character just stayed with Pitt’s character because it was the 1950’s and she didn’t have a lot of options, and also because she didn’t want him to ever be alone with her boys.

Nothing about this movie felt good.

The other vein of the movie, which took up huge chunks of time in the middle of our sort-of-story line, was an epic visual of the creation of the world, complete with Bible verses, dinosaurs, and quite the symphony. For like twenty minutes at a time. I know I should be mature and analyze its connection with the film, but, really? I was just left going, “What the heck?!” It was very Dali-esque, with lots of clouds, some sort of heaven, and our characters appearing at times to send off one of the sons who died as a teenager.

I may be a film teacher and movie-lover, but this film was just too much for me. I can appreciate the vision that went into the cinematography, but I don’t think it translated well at all for the average American movie goer who is used to a clear plot line.

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