Trouble with the Curve reviews

dws1982
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Re: Trouble with the Curve reviews

Postby dws1982 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:14 pm

If you really want to see a good example of the auteur theory and how much difference a director makes, see this. Robert Lorenz (producer and assistant director of many of Eastwood's films for the past decade) directs, using most of Eastwood's regular crew. The difference between this and an Eastwood-directed film: Night and day. Eastwood would've found a way to BS his way though this (not very good) screenplay, and probably would've come up with something fairly enjoyable. As it is, it's an unfocused mess--it's a baseball movie, when it's not Grumpy Old Men, when it's not a father-daughter drama, when it's not a romantic comedy, when it's not the anti-Moneyball--and it never comes together as anything interesting or memorable. There are some good moments, but some truly risible ones as well (where we see a flashback of why Eastwood sent Amy Adams away when she was young.) The real bottom line is that Lorenz just doesn't have the natural filmmaking ability that Eastwood has. You can dislike Eastwood, but I don't think anyone who knows anything about film would argue that he's inept. Lorenz though seems to have no clue where to place his camera at some points--one scene between Eastwood, Timberlake, and Adams at the bar is just ineptly shot, and the way it's edited is beyond jarring. (Same for the scene where Timberlake and Adams are walking down the street on their date.) It's edited by Eastwood's regulars, Cox/Roach, but you never see editing like this in an Eastwood directed film, ever. Editing in Eastwood films isn't exactly invisible, exactly (and isn't meant to be), but it's rhythmic, and there's no rhythm to the way some of these scenes are edited. Just a phony, poorly constructed movie. Eastwood, Adams, and Timberlake are fine. John Goodman is really excellent as a decent guy who tries to do right by everyone in the movie. I think Damien would've really liked that performance.

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Re: Trouble with the Curve reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:28 pm

Hollywood Reporter

Trouble with the Curve: Film Review
10:25 AM PDT 9/16/2012 by Todd McCarthy

The old pro scores with another hit right up the middle.

Clint Eastwood's first film as an actor for a director other than himself since In the Line of Fire in 1993, Trouble with the Curve is a corny, conventional and quite enjoyable father-daughter reconciliation story set mostly in the minor league baseball world of the South. Playing a sort of PG-13-rated version of his ornery coot in Gran Torino, Eastwood is vastly entertaining as an old-fashioned scout who disdains computers and fancy statistical charts in favor of his own time-tested instincts. Making his directorial debut, Eastwood's longtime producer Rob Lorenz knows just how to pitch the story to take advantage of the humorous side of his star's obstinate crankiness and Amy Adams makes a good match as the career-driven daughter with festering resentments. The Warner Bros. release looks to score well with Eastwood's bedrock Middle American fans, the great majority of whom were likely unphased by Eastwood's co-starring role at the recent Republican convention.

As in Gran Torino four years ago, Eastwood does not hesitate to spotlight the debilitations of old age, in fact doing so right off the bat as his Gus Lobel patiently coaxes out a morning piss, struggles with vision problems and stumbles banging into a coffee table at his modest home. A legendary baseball scout responsible for discovering some major stars in his day, Gus is one of the last of the cigar-chompers, a guy who relies on what he sees, hears and intuits but, with just three months left on his contract with the Atlanta Braves, “may be ready for pasture.” Anybody who's seen Moneyball will know which side of the table he sits on.

His only kid, conspicuously named Mickey (Amy Adams), is a high-powered young Atlanta lawyer on the verge of becoming a partner at her firm. Still stewing over having been palmed off on relatives when her mother died young so Gus could continued to troll the minors for talent, Mickey has commitment issues with men and the last thing this workaholic could imagine is accompanying her dad through southern backwaters on what could be his final swing. But her old man's pal (John Goodman) talks her into it, suggesting that it could be a last chance to patch things up.

First-time screenwriter Randy Brown puts his players on base and then comes through with what feels like a solid hit through the infield that scores a couple of runs. When Mickey joins her dad in North Carolina, their nearly every exchange almost immediately turns into an argument that ends with her stomping out and him telling her to go home. But good sense and some interesting developments keep her around: A former recruit of Gus's, Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), who made it to the bigs, then threw his arm out and is now a Red Sox scout, starts hound-dogging Mickey. She has great baseball sense herself and, alongside Gus, evaluates the season's top prospect, Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), a beefy slugger who hits it out nearly every time he comes up to the plate.

Filming in a charming old minor league park and peppering the stands with veteran baseball guys provides nice echoes of the game the way it used to be, and it feels good when director Lorenz also brings his star back to the sort of working class settings—Southern honkytonks, pool halls, cheap motels, cut-rate sports facilities—where his characters used to spend a good deal of time. In a modest, appealing way, Trouble with the Curve is another last-stand-of-the-old-timers movie, which might include Gran Torino, Space Cowboys and In the Line of Fire, with Eastwood as actor and sometimes director, in which experience, intuition and character get to carry the day against technology, numbers and other newfangled developments.

Even though he's still in the minors, the outsized Gentry amusingly carries on as if he already knows he's the new century's Babe Ruth, refusing to low-five his third base coach when he hits homers and boasting of glories to come. But despite his deteriorating vision, Gus has suspicions, as suggested by the film's title, that Gentry has a fatal weakness. It's a conviction he shares with Mickey, who herself contributes to her father's cause in a surprising, if somewhat far-fetched, way.

Having begun with Eastwood as a second assistant director on The Bridges of Madison County in 1995 and working as a producer or executive producer on his films since 2002, Lorenz knows well his collaborator's strengths as an actor and doesn't stray far from the style and tone customary at Malpaso. This is a handsomely directed film; there's a nice crispness to the pacing and images, as Lorenz keeps things moving briskly and has had house cinematographer Tom Stern move away from his recent darker, more subdued look to a brighter, fuller palette, which suits the vibrant characters and settings.

Adams scores as the career woman who's a tomboy at heart and discovers some new horizons by breaking with her routine. Timberlake is energetic but too puppy-doggish as her eager suitor; given Johnny's background as a failed would-be baseball player, some shades of regret and disappointment would have deepened characterization. Distinctive character actors such as Goodman, Matthew Lillard, playing a Braves scouting executive contemptuous of Gus's antiquated ways, and Robert Patrick, as the team's hardnosed g.m., are hardly tested but lend weight to the supporting cast.

But, of course, the show belongs to Eastwood. In just his third acting gig in a decade, the star has a role not dissimilar to the old crank he played to such great success in Gran Torino and provokes similar laughs with his blunt assessments and pissed-off comments. But despite living alone and his remoteness from his daughter, Gus Lobel is not retired but still engaged in life, carrying on with what he's always done well despite the disparagement of young rivals and the obvious physical encroachments of age.

Still physically fit enough to pitch to his daughter for fun (Eastwood reveals himself to be a southpaw on the mound), Gus may be an anachronism but, like the actor who plays, him, he remains a force to contend with. And despite his hard-headedness, he's also able to see that it's never too late to open up to Mickey. His medical issues are unrealistically shoved aside at the end, which might have benefited from a melancholy undercurrent, but the result is satisfying in an old-fashioned way, which also might be part of the point.

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Trouble with the Curve reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:17 pm

This doesn't sound like the Oscar vehicle some were touting (and Eastwood's recent political foray was obviously no help in that regard), but it's a likely audience-pleaser.

Trouble With the Curve

By Justin Chang

Playing a somewhat milder, creakier but no less stubborn curmudgeon than he's tackled in recent years, Clint Eastwood makes a trusty one-man mascot for all things old-fashioned and dependable in "Trouble With the Curve." A defiantly analog rejoinder to last year's tech-savvy baseball drama, "Moneyball," Robert Lorenz's square but sturdy directing debut rests on the wonderfully spiky chemistry between Eastwood and Amy Adams as a testy old scout and his equally strong-willed daughter, thrown together on a conventionally well-carpentered journey of reconciliation. Eastwood's recent political kerfuffle notwithstanding, Warners should have little trouble fielding an audience, especially in heartland states.
If "Moneyball" wryly observed the rise of sabermetrics as a depersonalized system of player evaluation, then "Trouble With the Curve" pointedly tells the story from the perspective of the old guard, those hardened pros who scorn computer-based mumbo-jumbo to assess things with their own well-trained eyes. One of those insistently old-school types is veteran Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel (Eastwood), who's introduced in the bathroom, grumpily dealing with one of old age's many indignities. More inconvenient professionally is Gus' failing eyesight, visualized in blurred p.o.v. shots, and what many around him perceive as a waning sense of judgment.

Concerned that the old man may be on his way to retirement, his colleague Pete (John Goodman) asks Gus' daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), to constructively intervene. A whip-smart attorney about to make partner at her firm, Mickey has some heavy emotional baggage clearly stemming from her strained relationship with her father. Still, feeling a sense of responsibility, she puts a major case on hold and joins Gus on his latest scouting trip to North Carolina, a decision he initially greets with spluttering protests. But as they hang out in the bleachers -- where they're occasionally joined by Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a young Boston Red Sox scout who clearly has a thing for Mickey -- their comfortable old dynamic, itself forged on past daddy-daughter scouting trips like this one, begins to re-emerge.

With his familiar rasp and usual array of grunts and scowls directed at the audience with the subtlest of winks, Eastwood strikes a limited but appropriate range of notes. As conceived, the role is a broad and obvious one, as Gus snorts about the "Interweb" and at one point tells someone to "Get outta here before I have a heart attack trying to kill you!" (It's not quite "Get off my lawn," but it'll do.) But it's a part that fits Eastwood, ahem, like a glove, and his performance is sharpened and energized at every step by Adams' engaging turn as a woman who's sympathetic but tough as nails, and just as comfortable shooting pool in a seedy bar as she is dressing down a rival at work.

The actors' effortless interplay is full of tetchy, bickersome humor, but also believably steeped in the characters' shared history, the defining incident of which will be unpacked in somewhat heavy-handed flashbacks. Fortunately, the film frequently shifts its focus from Mickey's daddy issues toward her slowly blossoming relationship with Johnny, an expected but winning development that affords no shortage of charming moments between Adams and the ever-appealing Timberlake.

Lorenz has served as a producer and/or assistant director on numerous Eastwood-helmed pictures dating back to "The Bridges of Madison County," and the apprenticeship seems to have taught him well. Availing himself of the talents of such seasoned Eastwood collaborators as cinematographer Tom Stern, editors Gary D. Roach and Joel Cox, and production designer James J. Murakami, Lorenz works in the same clean, aesthetically conservative register as his mentor, evincing a style of restrained classicism, no-nonsense craftsmanship and subdued but quietly enveloping emotion.

It's an apt approach for the screenplay by Randy Brown (another first-timer), which unapologetically embraces the people, places and traditions that modern society has deemed obsolete and decries the relentless drive to technologize and commodify everything in life, including but not limited to baseball. This is a picture that aims to teach young 'uns a thing or two about respecting their elders, turning off their smartphones and listening to the people around them for a change.

The work done by Lorenz and his estimable cast and crew here is solid enough to make the medicine go down smoothly. Harder to accept are some of the overly tidy, black-and-white formulations of the script, which saddles both Gus and Mickey with backstabbing corporate nemeses (Matthew Lillard and James Patrick Freetly, respectively), and conveniently turns minor characters, including a key MLB draft pick (Joe Massingill), into easy villains -- all of whom exist to be taken down a peg as the film moves toward its upbeat conclusion.

"Trouble With the Curve" will obviously have particular appeal to baseball fans, as Gus, Mickey and Johnny frequently spout statistics and drop references to everyone from Sandy Koufax to Albert Pujols; the title's literal if not thematic meaning is carefully explicated for the viewer's benefit. Tastefully shot and scored, the picture was lensed primarily in Georgia, with extensive access to Atlanta's Turner Field.


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