My night with the girls while Ali is at the gym. A Lane Cove Library visit to returns some dvds plus Sushi Train which is always nice. Back home bedtime was easy – relatively – and Ali got her wish. She spent several weeks slogging her way through Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball. Now she wants to see the film again and see how Zaillian and Sorkin and director Bennett Miller turned hundreds of pages of dry facts and even drier statistics into something that is completely satifying and engrossing. This was my third time seeing the film and, Wow! it still Pops for me. It’s great. There’s no longer the surprise for me of how the game of baseball could have stayed the same for so long without changing; how the talent scouts lasted this long; and how an analytical approach to statistics could turn the game on its head. Now, the film has to do the work of a film, pacing, drama, mini-climaxes, valleys and climaxes, without the surprise element and it still worked. I can’t see Jaws (1975) a second-time and have it exactly the same as the first-time. Nor can I see Citizen Kane (1941) for a second-time and be more blown-away by that film than any other film I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Nor can Moneyball (2011). Second viewings of particular films, and I’m guessing for viewers of Star Wars (1977) and Titanic (1997) the second time was probably for a lot of people almost exactly the same experience as their first experience, but at some point any film is just a bunch of scenes, involving many different camera set-ups, edited together and appreciated in the context of its acting, its dialogue, its make-up, its costumes, its score, its lighting, its special effects, its continuity, its pacing, its production design and its sets, its synchonization of words with lips, its soundtrack and its direction. And a great film is when all of those things are great although, admittedly, a film can still be great when its effects, soundtrack and lip-sync aren’t perfect, or even sometimes up-to-scratch. Moneyball still ticks all the boxes and works as a complete drama, like the most simple of stories which always works so well – Cinderella – up to the point where the girl from the sewer gets engaged to the handsome prince but just before the wedding gets dumped by the prince (unfortunate) for a prettier girl (reality) who is both Miss Universe and the winner of the World Series.
The story behind the making of Moneyball as reported by journalists and reporters is fascinating. However, it is more interesting to me that my wife who would rather read the dirt-dry, drier than red earth in outback NSW, Moneyball – the (non-)page-turning book – than read that Brad Pitt and DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) both found it difficult to get their pet-films financed and produced by a studio. Their projects almost died, if what I’ve read is true, just like the millions of sperms which have the hope for finding someone interested in them, a resting place that will then give their creation the chance to produce a plant, a tree, the best case scenario being fruit, or even a human life. Hoping a sperm will find an egg has betters odds and a better chance of survival than having an idea for a movie accepted, financed, green-lit and made. With all the grubby fingers that want to be recognized and fingerprinted and identified as being associated with any given film it is a wonder that Producers get second and third chances.
The barely living body of a film that is launched but almost no one knows about or sees, or a film that is still-born, never launched, just a dead body, is a reality.
Before you write back about this lack of understanding, of me talking in these terms about people who are dead, or that creating and losing a life is a poor analogy, know that I have two brothers who were born breathing – were born alive – and lived less than seventy hours. The dead are known as Stephen and Matthew. They were conceived and produced and released and they failed at the box office. They didn’t perform. Twenty-four years ago I learned the devastating effect of having children (or siblings) who didn’t perform. The kids who were dead didn’t have to worry about achieving the pre-set goals. The kids who weren’t, did.
I’m guessing that Dances with Wolves and Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ had a strong sperm and a lot of luck and could at some point have been known as Kevin and Mel’s Folly.