The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, July 6-12

brad-pitt-as-billy-beane-in-moneyball-2011

Moneyball (2011)
Directed by Bennett Miller
It would be a stretch to call Miller an “auteur,” but based on his first three films, one can at the very least detect a stylistic signature: principally, a dourness of address supported by drab visuals and starkly naturalistic dialogue scenes. The solemnity worked hand-in-glove with the psychologically dark material of Capote and Foxcatcher; it’s a more awkward fit with the sports-movie uplift and attempts at humor in Moneyball, though paradoxically, that surface incompatibility is precisely what makes it easily his most interesting directorial effort to date. From the true story of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) astonishingly successful attempt in 2002 to fashion a winning baseball team on a limited budget through the economic calculations of sabermetrics, screenwriters Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (adapting Michael Lewis’s nonfiction book) dramatize clashes between haves and have-nots; intellectual control and unpredictable humanity; and even, to some extent, reason and faith. In this context, Miller’s deliberate dampening of the usual rah-rah genre expectations play like a visceral embodiment of the film’s essential ambivalence: Like Beane, he aims for emotional detachment but occasionally can’t help but exude a low-key romanticism about the sport and the people involved. Kenji Fujishima (July 9, 6:30pm at Metrograph as part of “Bennett Miller and James Toback present each other”)

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