Author Topic: Top 100 Club: smirnoff  (Read 6138 times)


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #140 on: February 01, 2021, 03:47:22 PM »
I didnít get the sense that he had been fired, and not sure how much of a win that is considering he is being hired back the next scene.


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #141 on: February 04, 2021, 07:17:01 AM »
Touching the Void

"When you don't know what to do, just do whatever comes next and go from there." - Miss Prothero, Moonraker's Bride

Such a simple concept; almost too simple and easily overlooked. And yet, when the magnitude is too great, this basic idea becomes everything. Underneath Joe's excruciating pain and gigantic fear, a dispassionate voice, ignoring all of the competing inputs, says, "Move." And after a brief pause, "Now, move again." The voice isn't just matter of fact, it's a matter of life and death. Of all the grand vistas and great ambitions, it all comes down to the smallest of actions - A survival technic coming from the core. Chuck Noland (Cast Away) arrives at this place as well,  "I had power over nothing. And that's when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow, I had to keep breathing, even though there was no reason to hope..."

Never underestimate simple.

Thanks for watching this one and sharing your thoughts. I like the connections you've made to it.

It's a wonderfully told story I think. Rather unique amongst the documentaries I've seen anyways, with so much effort put into recreating the events. It plays quite different to a doc relying on archival footage, slow pans over photographs and narration. Here much less imagination is required since the depiction is so intense and believable.


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #142 on: February 04, 2021, 10:03:51 AM »
I agree! It's an exhilarating way to deliver a documentary.

KOL and I have been talking about Moneyball, so will have a chat review for you soon. :)


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #143 on: February 05, 2021, 05:01:39 AM »
True COVID is not as bad, but the looting and lawlessness was over the top

I never felt the looting was over the top, quite likely the supply would have ground to a halt if the virus was progressing that quickly.

I have to agree with jdc here. The toilet paper zombies at the beginning of covid make a pretty good case looting, if the Covid had been as deadly as what existed in the movie.

Contagion (2011 Steven Soderbergh)

Well this film was ahead of the game. It got some things correct and others not. Shyster(s) profiting and not caring about the damage or deaths they cause, check. US citys/states going into hard lockdown with military border controls, nope. OTT levels of looting and lawlessness, nope. They also cranked up the vaccine creation time and release, one person jabbing themselves does not a phase 3 trial make.

Great cast and it was not shy about who it killed off

You aren't kidding... Two best actress winners dead before the halfway point. It's something I appreciated about the film as well.

Do you think COVID takes some of the edge off of this film by the fact that we're in a pandemic right now and we're all mostly managing to carry on? I remember watching this film several times prior to COVID and it always put a terrible heavy sense of dread on me precisely because of how believable I found it to be.

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #144 on: February 05, 2021, 05:43:01 AM »
I think COVID shows us that the film was on the right track, which strengthens the response to the film. Also as jdc pointed out the contagion in Contagion was a lot more virulent, so a strong reaction by the populace is not surprising.

People were doing stupid things over toilet paper, but it was not looting.


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #145 on: February 05, 2021, 09:29:55 PM »

Sandy: Well, first off, I learned that Society for American Baseball Research
is a thing. :D Do you remember your overall impression of watching the film?

KOL: Movies on sport are pretty dumb, usually. This is way above that statement.

Sandy: So a sports movie impressed you!

KOL: As it deals with things off the field it becomes watchable.

Sandy: You like to watch soccer, but not soccer movies? Do you remember what motivated you to see Moneyball?

KOL: The drama that is inherent in athletics badly translates itself to the screen. It is the same with concerts and other performances too, in a way.

Sandy: It takes a lot of skill to create a story that way. A good story, that is.

KOL: As Moneyball was highly regarded the year it came out, it was a must see of sorts. It is a very good story.

Sandy: You were willing to take your chances.

KOL: Who doesnít love an underdog?

Sandy: Agreed!

KOL: This statistical aspect of US Sports is very Interesting. Athletic achievements reduced to numbers. Soccer has been dismembered into numbers too, these last years. The numbers say a lot about the game, but nothing of the beauty of it. Is there beauty in baseball?

Sandy: I think so. There's beauty in the intricacies, the strategies, the skills.

KOL: I guess there is a lot that an untrained eye misses. I have tried to watch a few games on television but it is kinda boring.

Sandy: haha! Thatís what I think of watching golf. I spent a lot of time on a ball field as a youth. There's something about having occupied that kind of space that makes it more personal. I donít feel ďromanticĒ about football, or golf.

KOL: What do you enjoy the most about it?

Sandy: Playing it, I liked hitting and taking care of first base. I wasn't a great thrower, or runner. Average. I liked the challenge of it, being outside and feeling capable. What did you like most about playing soccer?

KOL: I was not great at soccer, but I loved playing it. The communal feeling of achieving something together was the main thing for me. That is the real value. Had I played baseball I guess I would have ended up in the outfield. To be a menacing pitcher would have been cool, though.

Sandy: That is a good fantasy! I was never cool enough to be pitcher, nor accurate enough.

KOL: I think that my ball handling is too weak to be a good pitcher. What did you think of the real footage being played interspersed in the movie?

Sandy: When Soderburgh was attached to the project it was going to be a type of documentary. I like that they kept in a little of that element.

KOL: The clips of real events strengthen the movie as a whole. Docs are more interesting than biopics generally speaking.

Sandy: Then I can see why you liked that aspect of the movie. It took me a little while to notice it. Perhaps because I wasn't expecting it and wasnít paying close attention to the faces.

Lennart: Do you have a top five sports movies list? Can we talk about Jonah Hill? 

Sandy: Sure! According to Netflix's History of Swear Words, Hill is the most sweary actor of them all, beating out Samuel Jackson and Al Pacino.

KOL: Wow is he that foul mouthed?! I never knew. I have heard that Keira Knightley is very good at swearing.

Sandy: Really?! I never knew that either. :D I'm not a good swearer. I got started too late in life and it doesn't sound right coming from me.

KOL: I guess I could teach you a thing or two. I can deliver furnace if I need to.

Sandy: Ha! That is a saying I've never heard. I like it. Does it mean the words are heated?

KOL: I donít know if it is a saying. But yes, I can get heated. In northern Europe, the swearing has to do with god and the devil. While in southern Europe, the Latin countries, it is much more about sexuality. I can combine them both handily!

Sandy: Ha! I bet! What is devil in Swedish?

KOL: The devil is djšvulen.

Sandy: That's a mouthful. Three syllables for a swear word takes higher skill!

KOL: :D Bergman used to say he was tormented by his devils. Back to Jonah. He seems to appear in a lot of dismissible movies, but I like him a lot. Which are Jonah Hillís best scripts?

Sandy: Iíve only seen a few of his movies: I Heart Huckabees, Superbad, Evan Almighty.

KOL: Hill kind of always seems to be like a nerd in some way or another, but I think that he usually delivers. I think that he is an underrated actor. I also feel that Huckabees is an underrated movie. In Moneyball, his character was a little more serious than usual, but I think that he was solid. Brad Pitt was good too. These two pushed the movie forward.

Sandy: Since Hill is seen as a certain kind of character, Peter came as a new look for him. If Pitt and Hill were replaced with unknowns, would they have kept your interest?

KOL: Yes, in a way the characters are not that interesting in this story. It is the way the numbers are brought in the picture that is important. I like this approach a lot. Making the unmeasurable measurable.

Sandy: A little like Queenís Gambit? Allowing for non chess players to be able to follow?

KOL: Well, yes and no.

Sandy: Tell me more.

KOL: I think Moneyball demystifies the ballgame as it picks it apart and weighs it's aspects on a scale, While The Queenís Gambit tells us very little about the essence of chess.

Sandy: Ah, yes, but both keep me involved. Each in their own way.

KOL: I liked that series as it empowered a female in a male universe, but it was not very believable. The chess world is more ruthless, I think.

Sandy: and less romantic and stylized. Does reducing baseball down to numbers take away the romance of it?

KOL: Yes, I think so.

Sandy: And yet Jonahís character, the one who was the most invested in the numbers, seemed romantic about the game still.

KOL: I have nothing much to be romantic about with regards to baseball though.

Sandy: How about soccer?

KOL: Well, the approach is used in soccer too now days.

Sandy: Then less romantic now?

KOL: hmm, you got me there a little! Soccer now days is decidedly less romantic because of the money involved. Itís insane. But at a lower level it still is a beautiful game.

Sandy: I donít follow salaries, or stats, but sitting in Wrigley Field with the sights, sounds and smells, itís pretty romantic. Probably how you would feel at a soccer game. To call something beautiful, that goes way beyond numbers.

KOL: When I romanticize football, I more think of the smell in the locker room and such than the stands.

Sandy: Iíd rather smell popcorn than sweat. :D

KOL: Good point! The romantic aspect is the heart and grit of the players. The liniment smell.

Sandy: Ah, the pain, blood, sweat and tears.

KOL: Yes, that also is why this story was interesting. It lost steam when the athletics was on their roll. The buildup was what reigned me in.

Sandy: Thatís right, you like an underdog story.

KOL: Exactly, when they ceased being underdogs the allure faded. We ought to say that Brad Pitt was splendid.

Sandy: I Agree

KOL: And that Philip Seymour Hoffman felt under used.

Sandy: Agree again! I kept expecting him be a bigger presence in the film. I wonder if some of his scenes were left on the editing floor.

KOL: Maybe it was just the character of his that was marginal. I kinda felt that the parts on Brad Pitt's marriage were slowing the movie down.

Sandy: It's as if they didn't have time to really delve into it, so let it be a little half hearted. I don't know how to fix that. There's a lot of story telling going on... You asked me what my top 5 sports movies are. This is what Iíve come up with.

Field of Dreams
League of Their Own
Pride of the Yankees
Breaking Away

How about you?

KOL: My top 5 sport movies are:

Stars and the Water Carriers
A Sunday in Hell: Paris-Roubaix 1976

Two docs by the Danish director JÝrgen Leth. They both are somewhat poetic while also deeply serious and I have a hard time to choose between them.

When We Were Kings

Both are in my Top 100.

Fever Pitch. The 1997 one with Colin Firth.

Sandy: You have a baseball movie on your list?!

KOL: I have not! it was about soccer originally. The Farrelly brothers' remake is a baseball version of it.

Sandy: Oh! haha! I didn't realize that was a remake. I should have known you would have chosen a soccer film over a baseball one!

KOL: I guess that i should watch that one eventually. The original source is a novel by Nick Hornby who is an Arsenal fan, so it is pretty autobiographical. Colin Firth is good in the lead.

Sandy: I'd like to see it! Would you like to tell me about the Leth docs?

KOL: I love that we both have cycling movies on our lists. Leth is a Danish film maker and, I think, an author as well. The two docs on my list are lyrical and philosophical considerations on the nature of cycling and they try to get the essence of the sport; man's urge to reach beyond himself in a way.

Sandy: After watching Touching the Void, I was intrigued in how a documentary can be more. Your docs seem like they strive for that.

KOL: I think they do.

Sandy: I'll look into them.
KOL: When We Were Kings is about Mohammad Ali. Boxing seems to be one of the sports best suited for the silver screen

Sandy: I almost put Rocky on my list, but I haven't seen it in a very long time.

KOL: Do you think Warrior is better than Rocky?

Sandy: I cried a lot more in it. :) I don't remember crying at all in Rocky... Honestly, I don't see a lot of sports movies.

KOL: Me neither. I liked Creed a bit. Contemporary Sylvester Stallone often has a teddy bear quality that i easily fall for.

Sandy: My kids like Creed, but I haven't seen it yet. Again, I'm not the best person to be making a top 5 sports movie list.

KOL: That's why it is fun to do lists like these.

Sandy: :D


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #146 on: February 22, 2021, 05:16:38 AM »
Hey you both, I'm glad to see you both took the time to check out Moneyball. I enjoyed reading your reactions to it and the resulting discussion. I don't know quite where to jump in so I started typing some thoughts on the film as they came to mind.

"Would you have drafted me in the first round?"
"After I left you looked me up on your computer. Would you have drafted me in the first round?"
"Yeah I did. You were a good player."
"Cut the crap, man. Would you have drafted me in the first round?"
"I'd have taken you in the 9th round, no signing bonus."

I love this scene. Billy Beane alone at his kitchen table, god knows what hour in the evening, stewing over past and present. He phones Pete, who's asleep next to a pile of papers with baseball stats on them. It's essentially a one question interview. It's not a blow to Billy's ego to hear how low Pete would have drafted him, Billy has been living with his professional failures for years, but to hear it quantified so precisely (and seemingly accurately) I think is something new, even for Billy. I like the scene because it manages to feel like Pete is not speaking with the benefit of hindsight. Jonah Hill's delivery sells that. There's a beautiful montage later which overlays archival footage of sports commentators commenting on Billy Beane at the beginning and during his disappointing career as a pro player. As you observe Billy become more and more frustrated continually striking out, you hear the narrative gradually shift to reflect his development. What begins as a "sure thing" story of a hot young prospect, morphs into a one of those inevitable "busts" that happens every year, as if anyone who follows baseball would surely have seen this exact story playing out. There's a maddening certainty these reflections. The tone of the commentators is so sure... as if months before they hadn't said the exact opposite. And when I contrast that with what Pete says to Billy, about what round in the draft he would have selected him, it such a wonderful opening up of the theme of this film. The bullshit mysticism of surrounding the sport... everyone drinking the same koolaid. And we see the rage inside Billy who himself once drank the same Kool-aid, which lead to a humiliating and frustrating failure as a professional player. Pete is the first person Billy encounters who hasn't had that drink.

I can't help but wonder, had Billy Beane been drafted in the 9th round, would he have become the player it was believe he would be. It makes me think of the story from one of Malcolm Gladwell's books about life-long, top-of-class students who go to prestigious schools and are suddenly surrounded by people on their same level. How much it messes with their heads. How often they struggle and ultimately drop out. Whereas equally qualified students that chose local schools (with less prestige but equally difficult curriculums), and were surrounded by a distribution of academic qualifications that they were familiar with, those students did much better.

Pitt's brand of rage in this film is one of my favourite things about it. I feel his bitterness when I watch it. It's such a good performance. He never takes it out on anybody, he always finds a place alone to rage or throw a chair. I love how that focused anger also focuses the storytelling. It is not about conflicts between Beane and the people around him. It is a conflict between Beane and baseball and his entire history with it. I think moments like the ones with Beane's family, and how much they want to encourage him and sympathize with him, and how he entertains their sympathy out of politeness but never really takes it seriously... it all speaks so strongly to how unique and difficult to relate to his anger is. Fortunately he finds a way to direct it into something which is positively destructive.

The romance of Hatteberg's story is well depicted I think. The movie is not really about him, he's just another player, the movie often drifts away from his story, and checks back in. The saga of his learning to play first base, and Billy's fight to get Art to actually start him at first base intstead of Pena (a problem he solves by simply trading Pena away), and then later Hatteberg being the one to hit the game winning run which helped them break the record. It's as traditional a sports movie moment as this film has, and it's wonderfully built up. But the movie soberly cuts away before the the smoke has cleared and resets the focus. The streak is, for Billy, a meaningless thing. "It's fun for the fans". It's no longer a sports movie.

I think with Billy and Pete's final scene, the movie finds just the right way to end. I love everything about this movie. I think it's a minor masterpiece. A Michael Lewis book adapted by Sorkin... I hope it's not the last time.


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Re: Top 100 Club: smirnoff
« Reply #147 on: February 22, 2021, 11:52:47 PM »
Thank you, smirnoff. I've really enjoyed reading your post. From Pete's pragmatism to Billy's bitterness, to Hatteburg's contribution to the overall story, you have a great handle on the characters. I really appreciate you delving into the reasons why this movie works so very well for you.

I'd wager that had Billy been drafted in the 9th round, he would have excelled; maybe not as a star, but certainly as a an asset to a team. The pressure of being a wunderkind would mess with mindset and performance. It's like there's nowhere to go but down. I like your analogy of a prestigious school. It's so true.

I just finished The West Wing, so am on a high of Sorkin (and his successors) speak, so too would like to see something else by him and Lewis. I got Moneyball in a bargain bin, but I think I'll keep it around so I can revisit it. Glad it was in your top 100. :)