Moneyball is easy to admire, a bit more difficult to love. That’s because the film, like its central character (well played by Brad Pitt), keeps its emotions in check so much of the time. It should be no shock that the film is intelligent and well-made, considering the source material (a book by financial writer Michael Lewis, who also authored The Blind Side), the screenwriters (Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin), and the director (stage veteran Bennett Miller, whose first film was Capote). What’s somewhat surprising is how engrossing a story about—
Far be it for me to contradict the Cannes Film Festival jury, or some critics who saw The Tree of Life there and sang its praises to the skies, but I respectfully disagree. I would never dismiss the film out of hand—it has too many beautiful passages, conveying the conflicting emotions of childhood—but I think its reach exceeds its grasp. One can applaud Terrence Malick for attempting something as bold as a picture that ruminates on the place of mankind in nature and the history of the universe. But even an ambitious artist has to be judged on results, not intentions. I couldn’t connect the “big bang,” or the interaction of dinosaurs, with the life of a family in 1950s Texas, and frankly, I found the shots of protozoa, flowing water, and the cosmos itself to be beautiful but—
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