pen rainbow

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Monday—The Movie Corner: Moneyball

my A's teeshirt
Reviewing the 84th Academy Award nominated movies for 2012 (live on Sunday, February 26, 7e, 4p)

MONEYBALL — Based on the 2003 novel by Michael Lewis, Moneyball:  The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.  

IMDB Official Trailer

Michael Lewis also wrote, The Blind Side, Evolution of a Game (2006), a treatise on football, which was also made into an Academy Award nominated movie.
★  Happy ending
★  Suspenseful
★  Nobody dies
★  Based on a true story

It's nice to see that there are some very watchable movies nominated in the Best Picture category this year.  Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, is required viewing for anyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.  And, if you don't live in the Bay Area, go see it anyway because it's a great movie, and you won't regret paying for the price of a ticket.

Seriously, you have to go see it because it's about one of our own, Billy Beane, the current general manager of the Oakland A's.  It's also about A's baseball, which is something that any red-blooded Bay Area suburbanite holds sacred.  Going to an A's game is like being let out for recess when you were a kid.  It's safe, fun, and wonderfully uncomplicated.

On the other hand, putting together a major league baseball team is a sophisticated, complex procedure involving player productivity, player appeal, economic projections, multimillion dollar salaries, and ironclad budgets.  That's what this movie is about.  It is based on the true story of the A's 2002 season and the unconventional way in which an economic model of player valuation developed by a young and inexperienced Yale economics graduate was used to build a winning team out of mediocre talent and relative unknowns.

•  Brad Pitt — Actor in a leading role
•  Jonah Hill — Actor in a supporting role
•  Best Picture
•  Film editing — Christopher Tellefson
•  Sound mixing — Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick
•  Writing — Adapted screenplay by Steven Zaillian, who received an Oscar in 1994 for Schlindler's List, and the golden fingered, Aaron Sorkin, who also penned screenplays for The Social Network (2010) and Charlie Wilson's War (2007); Story by Stan Chervin 

Think of Brad Pitt without Angelina Jolie and all of their kids.  Think of Jonah Hill in anything other than a raunchy comedy.  Both actors are intense and soft-spoken with undertones of natural humor, and all of these qualities combine to make their performances extremely appealing as a duo.  As actors, they are able to deliver just enough professional distance between the characters to shift the focus off of them and onto the central story, which is about major league baseball.

Consummate character actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, exudes obstinance and experience as team manager, Art Howe.  

Bennet Miller's subtle direction defines the powerfully serious and very personal side of professional baseball.

Also worth a mention is the hauntingly repetitive and beautiful theme song from the movie, This Will Destroy You - The Mighty Rio Grande.  Don't ask me about the title.

Moneyball was released last September, so it is no longer playing in theaters, but it is now out on DVD HD ($12.99 from Amazon), or you can rent it on Amazon Instant Video ($3.99).  Some theaters may be replaying it as an Oscar nominated movie, and you can check the fandango site to see if it is playing in your area.  Just enter your zip code.

It's also available through Comcast xfinity On Demand, so check your listings.  iTunes Movies also has it for $4.99 in HD (click Preview in iTunes).  Just google Moneyball for other viewing options.

With six nominations this year, you can count on this movie receiving an Oscar, so don't miss it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tuesday's Cupboard — Crockpot Shoyu Pork Roast

This dish will make your hosue smell heavenly!
Easy & delicious!  An oldie, but a guaranteed goodie.    
Serve this with jasmine rice and lightly steamed baby carrots, baby bok choy & sugar snap peas.  I sometimes find a similar veggie mixture in the prepackaged vegetable section.  

For the meat & potatoes crowd, serve it with baked potatoes and a fresh green salad.  The au jus is absolutely to die for, and the meat is like pulled pork.  

From the Grace Cooperative Preschool Cookbook, 1987.  This is a Hawaiian recipe from one of the preschool moms named, Gale.  

Cooking time:  4 hours on high, depending on the size of the roast that you use.

1 - 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 c. of sugar
1 c. of shoyu (soy sauce)
2 T. dry mustard

3+ lbs. trimmed Boston Butt (or any other lean, boneless pork roast)

Make It!
Whisk together the first 4 ingredients.  Place pork roast into your crockpot.  Pour the sauce over it.  Set on HIGH and cook for 4 hours.  Check for doneness.  The meat should be so tender that you can cut it with a fork.

About an hour before serving, get the rice (or baked potatoes) started.  I steam mine in a rice cooker, which takes about 45 minutes for 2 cups of rice (yields 5 cups).     

Serve It!
Serve  over steamed jasmine or plain white rice.  The rich au jus is delicious ladled over a baked potato.  For a veggie side, serve steamed baby carrots, baby bok choy & sugar snap peas or a fresh green salad sprinkled with seasoned rice vinegar.

Monday—The Movie Corner: One For The Money

Save the price of a movie ticket & read the books!
One For The Money, based on the best-selling novel by Janet Evanovich

Fans of Stephanie Plum are going to be disappointed in this movie.  I've read every book in the Stephanie Plum series, and 23 minutes into the movie, I was ready to walk out.  It was just awful.

I doubt if anyone who has read the novels would think of the usually blond, graceful-like-a-swan, Katherine Heigl, to play Stephanie Plum.  I loved her in Knocked Up, and I think that she's a terrific comedic actress.  She just wasn't the right actress to play Stephanie.

Academy-award winning comedic powerhouse, Sandra Bullock, yes.  Academy-award winning Brooklyn native, Marisa Tomei, absolutely.  Friends icon, Courtney Cox, could have pulled off the physical comedy and the loser/heroine personality.  A brunette, Christina Applegate, for sure!  :::Sigh:::

Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur was a disaster.  She's too elegant for the role.  Sharp as a tack comedic master, Cloris Leachman, yes.   Quirky, off-key actress, Katherine Helmond, from SOAP and Everybody Loves Raymond, definitely.  Queen of television comedy, Carol Burnett, could have delivered Grandma Mazur to the big screen.  Crass and brutally funny, Elaine Stritch, for sure.  She'd be believable as Stephanie's free thinking, funeral parlor attending grandmother.  I do not know what happened, but these characters are so well defined in the books that it's hard to imagine how they could have been miscast.

Ranger (played by Daniel Sunjata) and Joe Morelli (played by Jason O'Mara) are just as disappointing, well maybe moreso than the rest.  I'll admit that I was really looking forward to seeing the screen versions of these two characters.  In the books, there is a strong animal chemistry between Stephanie and the two main men in her life.  Ranger's nickname is Batman because he is an ex-Special Services military guy with a mysterious background.  In the movie, Ranger comes off more like a brother, and Joe...well, I didn't get it.

Dwayne Johnson would have been a better fit for Ranger.  Kirk Acevedo, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican/Chinese descent, who played detective Luisito Calderon in the TV series, Prime Suspect, would have been excellent.  Brooklyn native, Nick Santino…hello, perfect-amundo!  For Joe, native New Yorker, Jon Abrahams, would have been interesting or Prison Break series actor, Wentworth Miller, if he could do a Jersey accent.

They did manage to get one character perfectly cast with Sherri Shepherd in the role of Lula, Stephanie's BFF and assistant bounty hunter.  Unfortunately, she has about 3 lines in the whole movie, and they totally missed the opportunity to utilize this wonderful comedic talent as Stephanie's sidekick.  "Disappointing" is putting it mildly.  "Heartbreaking" is a more like it.

Worth it?
For die-hard fans, is it worth the price of a movie ticket?  It would be worth it only if you want to see what a disaster this movie really is.  But, I have to warn you.  This movie is actually boring.  I know, it's hard to imagine how a Stephanie Plum novel could be made into a boring movie, but they managed to do it with a script that is amateurish and disjointed, in fact embarrassing at times.

I really wanted this to be a good movie.  The books are great, but the movie will piss off fans and anyone who paid full price for a ticket.  It should be retitled, One for the Waste of Your Money.