Bennett Miller directed the acclaimed film "Capote" in 2005. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Miller now brings his masterful but subtle touch to the sports movie genre in "Moneyball." In the process, he delivers much more than a simple baseball story.
Brad Pitt is outstanding as Billy Beane, the real life general manager of the Oakland A's in 2002. With a budget that's only one-third of the Yankees' payroll, he needs a way to compete with players who earn a lot less than superstars.
He finds a computer geek expert in economics and obscure baseball stats, played perfectly by Jonah Hill. He gives Beane the knowledge to identify low-cost players who can still make a real impact.
But it's Beane's uphill battle against old school-thinking that is the heart of the story. "Moneyball" is that rare sports film that doesn't end with a big game and a rousing victory.
It's about many different aspects of life, making tough choices and staying true to your vision of what's best. It should appeal to a wide audience beyond baseball fans and get some attention at Oscar time.
Heartthrob looks good, but acting falls flat
As the star of "Abduction," "Twilight" heartthrob Taylor Lautner is surrounded by some pretty great talent — Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina, and the unflappable Sigourney Weaver. Their job is to lend credibility to a nice-looking kid who can't act in a lame mishmash of the "Bourne" series and "Star Wars."
Lautner plays Nathan, a high school dude with perfect skin and abs. He has a crush on neighbor Karen (Lily Collins), and from the way they stare blankly beneath perfectly-groomed brows, you know they're a perfect match.
If only it wasn't Nathan's only expression. Sure, he can squeeze out a tear or two after his parents are murdered (after he finds out they're not really his parents). But mostly, he just hyperventilates to convey emotion.
Nathan and Karen are on the run from guys who want to kill him or claim to know his real father. I kept waiting for an actual abduction, but there wasn't one. Unless you count how I wound up seeing this movie.
So now we have Taylor Lautner: Action Star. Surely someone with his dramatic range is destined for great things once his voice changes. Imagine his scowl as King Lear, as Willy Loman, as Lady MacBeth. The mind reels.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.
SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.