Play Ball At the Movies!

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Moneyball

Just because “Moneyball” centers around the sport of baseball don’t be fooled into thinking this is a “sports movie.” For sure there are lots of jocks hanging out in the locker room in various stages of undress and lots of clips of games with players swatting homeruns and more than enough scenes where paper cups are spat into from the seemingly required wad of chewing tobacco of those involved in the game on and off the field.

Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) struggles to build a competitive baseball franchise. With little monies at his disposal, the accepted strategy of scouts and trainers sitting around the table touting not only a player’s physical skills, but said player’s dollar worth, Beane reaches the conclusion that with limited funds his organization will never be able to compete with the big market teams.

Beane latches on to a computer nerd, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) who spends no time in athletic pursuits and all his time formulating statistics that may or may not prove revolutionary to America’s favorite pastime.

There’s sufficient butting of heads in the boardroom as well as the locker room and Beane takes great risks with little support. Will his and Brand’s computer calculations payoff?

When Pitt started out in the business he was a stunningly beautiful actor (remember “Thelma & Louise”?) who had that indefinable quality, “star power.” Over the years he has developed into an accomplished talent and “Moneyball”, though sometimes slow of pace (like a homerun trot around the bases), allows him to develop this role beyond the obvious surface qualities.

“Moneyball” is a far cry from “The Natural” or “Field of Dreams” or even “The Pride of the Yankees”, but over the years the game has changed and so have the movies. One’s not better than the other, just different.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

I never had a job. I always played baseball.” Satchel Paige

Remember back in the day when players suited up because they loved the game and would play for five dollars a day? Remember back in the day when there were no asterisks besides statistics indicating steroid use, mostly because they didn’t bother with statistics? Remember back in the day when going to see a game didn’t require being frisked going through the gate and the players would sign autographs for nothing?

“The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” will help old-timers remember and youngsters learn how fun the game of baseball could be. Set in the late 1930’s, Billy Dee Williams as the star pitcher, Bingo, and James Earl Jones as the slugger Leon Carter form a team of talented players to barnstorm the countryside.

Reminiscent of the Negro Leagues that flourished before baseball teams were integrated, the Traveling All-Stars learned early on that baseball should be entertainment as well as sport. The racial tension of the times is realistically portrayed and director John Badham incorporated actual situations recorded in newspapers in telling the story.

Richard Pryor (as a black player trying to pass as Cuban so he’ll be considered for the Majors) reminds us in every scene what an extraordinary comedic talent he was.

We can learn from watching movies. We can learn from watching sports. “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” let’s us do both and have a good time while we’re at it.

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt.Dance like nobody’s watching.” Satchel Paige

They Came to Play

OK, so “They Came to Play” is not about baseball, not even close. But the competitive spirit is universal and you don’t have to be a musician to become enamored with the documentary, “They Came to Play.”

Experiencing the spirit of rivalry, sensing the joy the competitors ooze when talking about what playing the piano means to them, and realizing that dreams don’t need to be squashed by aging are more than enough reasons to interest even those with little or no musical ear.

The Fifth International Van Cliburn Competition for Amateurs was held in Fort Worth, Texas in 2008 and more than 75 pianists came from around the world to compete. Most reality television shows aimed at the youth market have an age cut-off of well below thirty. This competition has a cut-off as well, but in reverse. Contestants must be at least 35 years of age!

Doctor, lawyer, dental hygienist, jewelry salesman, tennis pro, scientist, and teacher are only a few of the career paths taken by these “musicians at heart.” Each is given a specified amount of time to perform a selection of their choosing which makes “They Came to Play” that much more entertaining.

Tension mounts as the first 50 are eliminated, leaving 25 to perform another selection. The final six pianists vie for the $3000 grand prize.

Director Alex Rotaru allowed time for the players to express themselves away from the keyboard as well as on the concert stage. What a treat to see, and hear, individuals doing what they love to do for no other reason than sheer joy.


Source by Rebecca Redshaw

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