Last night friend-of-HE Nick Clement — a.k.a. “Action Man” — saw the eight- or nine-minute Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sizzle reel that Toronto critics were also shown at the Straw Dogs screening. Clement also saw Moneyball as the main attraction. He emailed his responses to both last night.
Tattoo quickie: “As the lights went down for Moneyball and light flooded the screen, the footage began with…wait…Christopher Plummer in closeup, talking about some dark family stuff? And then wham…massive excitement levels. It was like watching a mini-version of David Fincher‘s upcoming film, but not in a bad way. Now I’m even more anxious to see what Fincher has cooked up based upon what I saw tonight.
“This movie isn’t going to stretch Fincher as a filmmaker, and yeah, the material is completely within his comfort zone, but if this particular story had to be re-imagined by Hollywood, I can’t think of another director for the job. In short, from what I saw tonight, the film looks INCREDIBLE, with an icy visual style that harkens back to Seven and The Game (a film I adore).
“Rooney Mara looks extremely intense and Craig looks appropriately weathered and intrigued by all the things going on around him. The score that was used was very TSN-esque, very low-level, almost a constant electronic humming, that then progessed and crescendoed into an explosive finale. Combined with all the dark and nasty and exciting imagery on display (snippets of lesbian sex, the infamous assault sequence, violence, car chases, general deviancy) the reel got a huge charge out of the audience, with lots of chatter and buzzing after it was over.
“I think some people were perplexed as to what they were watching as it clearly wasn’t a trailer, and at these free screenings, they typically don’t show trailers (maybe one). And, now having seen some real footage from the film with dialogue and characters and plot points established, I guess you can’t rule out the film from getting a possible genre-category Best Picture nomination (think District 9) from the Academy.
“One thing’s for sure — it’s gonna make a shit-ton of money at the box office, despite the hard R they’ve obviously gone for.
“And I loved how after the on-screen ‘A Film by David Fincher’ credit came up, there was a ‘Screenplay by Steven Zaillian‘ credit; not since the first trailer for Bad Boys II do I remember a trailer that gave an in-name shout-out to the writers (Shelton, Stahl and Hancock got credited).”
Moneyball Elation: “No huge need for me to re-review as you’ve covered all the bases in your previous posts. But Moneyball is right up there among the finest sports films ever made. It’s wonderfully written, sharply directed, and features the best movie-star performance from Brad Pitt in a long time, and possibly ever.
“Jonah Hill is perfectly cast as the stats man, bringing lots of laughs to the surprisingly funny script (you can clearly see both Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian‘s hands all over the script), and Hill and Pitt have dynamite chemistry (the trade-deadline scene was my favorite). The terrific, almost ambient score (loved the frequent “Explosions in the Sky”-esque guitar riff) is balanced beautifully by the numerous (and startling) moments of silence, which really help bring you into Billy Beane‘s psyche.
“In many ways Moneyball is definitely this year’s The Social Network , except here you’re not watching a group of prissy assholes bickering over money and fame, but the story of a deeply charismatic GM with a serious love for baseball who is starved for something new in the sport that he’s been involved with all his life.
“It’s worth noting the audience response to Moneyball, which was extremely favorable. Mixed demographics, almost every seat taken, people of all ages. A huge round of applause greeted the film at the end, people laughed in all the right places, and Pitt and Hill cast a spell on the entire crowd with their back-and-forth. For a movie that’s all about words and people talking, people were amazingly courteous and respectful, which is shocking because these free screenings tend to always bring out the texters and morons. But not tonight.
“It might’ve had something to do with the fact that there were four security guards pulling people out of the theater for using phones. But I’d like to think that when a good story is being told that people are enjoying, they’ll all shut the fuck up and do what they’re there in the theater to do — watch the movie. Not text their friends or chit-chat or browse Google every 20 minutes.
“Moneyball is a very quiet movie at times, so it can easily be ruined by unappreciative audiences. But based on what I saw and felt tonight, this movie will be a big hit and have terrific word-of-mouth. And for a sports movie that avoids almost every sports movie cliche in the book, that’s saying something. I loved it.
“All in all, another splendid night at the movies. This fall has been sensational so far: 50/50, Contagion, Warrior, Moneyball and now Drive (!) this weekend, and we’re not even done with September! It’s gonna be a great few months coming up.”