The Ides of March (2011)

This is only the second movie directed by George Clooney that I’ve seen, and despite being underwhelmed by Leatherheads, I am now excited to go back into his vault and see what else he has done. Clooney keeps a great pace as the story unfolds and he does an excellent job at making you like the characters when you’re supposed to and hate them when they’ve let you down.

The Ides Of March is one of those rare films where each and every character is a complete asshole as some point during the plot. The only other movie where this comes to mind is The Good Girl from 2002, but Ides is far from being a black comedies. This is also the first time I’ve seen a movie starring Ryan Gosling, which at first made me think, “I really can’t stand him,” only for it to turn out that I really wasn’t supposed to like his character.

I highly recommend this film for anyone who likes political thrillers or revenge flicks.

Moneyball (2011)

Moneyball was definitely on my short list of films to see, but the overwhelming “you have to see it” that I’d been hearing really served to push it further down my list. Having nothing but time to kill on a JetBlue flight, I finally succumbed to Moneyball.

It really is a great film, fully deserving of its nominations and awards, but I couldn’t help shake the feeling that it was serving the purpose of providing a sequel to The Social Network. There were many moments that tried to capture some of the maudlin tones of the 2010 Golden Globe winning drama, such as a similar use of a minimalist score, lingering shots of actors staring off-camera, and uncomfortable humor. Sharing a screenwriter and producer obviously helped to accomplish this, but the movie really does stand on its own for a number of reasons.

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill turned in performances that help you forget their talk show or personal antics. Their chemistry together is better than many on-screen romantic couples. Phillip Seymour Hoffman creates a great non-villain character while still evoking your sympathy. Editing and pacing of the second and third acts of the film really kept the movie interesting at a point where it could’ve lagged.

Generally, I would recommend this movie without hesitation to anyone whether they’re a sports fan or not. It’s an incredibly engaging look at a subject that could’ve been an overlooked, hourlong documentary on ESPN.

April 7th, 2011: Boogie Nights (1997)

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