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Originally published September 22, 2011 at 6:09 AM | Page modified September 22, 2011 at 6:09 AM

Scarecrow Video recommendations for "Moneyball"

This week sees the release of a really interesting and unusual film, one that straddles a couple of different genres. "Moneyball" tells the story of Billy Beane (as played by Brad Pitt), the general manager of baseball's Oakland Athletics. With his franchise strapped for cash and competing with far wealthier teams for talented and often expensive players, Beane famously used a system of statistical analysis called "sabermetrics" to build a winning team on a budget. It's one part underdog sports story and one part docudrama, and well worth your time (at least, if you haven't seen "Drive" yet).

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This week sees the release of a really interesting and unusual film, one that straddles a couple of different genres. "Moneyball" tells the story of Billy Beane (as played by Brad Pitt), the general manager of baseball's Oakland Athletics. With his franchise strapped for cash and competing with far wealthier teams for talented and often expensive players, Beane famously used a system of statistical analysis called "sabermetrics" to build a winning team on a budget. It's one part underdog sports story and one part docudrama, and well worth your time (at least, if you haven't seen "Drive" yet).

"Moneyball" was directed by Bennett Miller, whose last film was the well-liked biopic "Capote." But originally the film was to be helmed by Steven Soderbergh. For some reason, the studio got cold feet at the last minute and made some personnel changes. Soderbergh would still have been an interesting choice. He's got several somewhat similar films under his belt, like "Erin Brockovich," "Traffic," or the currently-in-theaters "Contagion"; precise but never dry melodramas based on unusual true stories or contemporary issues.

You definitely want to check out Soderbergh's "The Informant," starring Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre A true story, Whiteacre was an executive at a food processing conglomerate who, almost inexplicably, attempted to cover up his own embezzlement by exposing a massive price-fixing scheme, which of course was a little more complicated than he anticipated. It didn't help that Whiteacre was suffering from an extreme and untreated case of bipolar disorder.

For more of a straight documentary, you might want to pick up "Freakonomics," which we've recommended before. In this case it's relevant to "Moneyball" in that it examines the mathematic and statistical principles behind such diverse concepts as paying children to get good grades in school or a bribery scandal in the world of Sumo wrestling.

But maybe you just want a good baseball movie. One about a bunch of misfit, cheapo players just trying to play the game while the head office worries about the numbers. So when's the last time you watched "Major League"? Get on that.




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