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Showing posts from February, 2012

A Separation

There's no more sadly appropriate, self-defeating gesture in Asghar Farhadi's celebrated A Separation than that of Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini) repeatedly striking himself.  Hodjat is, by his own admission, a hot-tempered man.  But at that moment of supreme frustration, he's also been unemployed for months, beseiged by creditors and his wife, Razieh (Sareh Bayat),  has recently lost their unborn child after a dispute with a man with whom she was working to bring some money into the household.

The separation of the film's title refers to that of Nader (Peyman Maadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami).  The couple have been married fourteen years when we first see them.  Prospects for a fifteenth year are not encouraging.  As A Separation begins, the two are in family court owing to Simin's petition for divorce.  She wants to leave Iran so their daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, the director's daughter) can grow up elsewhere.  "I don't want my child to grow up under…

Haywire

If you close your eyes during Steven Soderbergh's Haywire, you might think yourself at a screening of one of his "Oceans" films, or even last year's slightly scary but ultimately uninvolving Contagion.  Unless your period of darkness happens to coincide with one of many intervals during which grunts are issued, bodies and objects are heard to crash, like aural exclamation marks, all telltale sounds of asses being kicked by the film's heroine, Mallory Kane (Gina Carano).  Otherwise, there is a good bit of slinky electronica provided by composer David Holmes, the man responsible for the soundtrack of the three "Oceans" films.  Contagion's soundtrack by Cliff Martinez, while a little harder-edged, pulsated with a similarly synthesized score, its background music much closer to the dance floor than the concert hall.

With their modern music sensibilities and and travelog tendencies, Oceans 11, 12 and 13, along with Contagion and Haywire, are a bit like…

Moneyball

In baseball, at least at the Major League level, one encounters an almost paradoxical mix of poetry and mathematics.  Perhaps to those who can wield and see the patterns in numbers as impressively as a big leaguer pivots to complete a double play or manages to hit a breaking pitch that's moving at 90 miles per hour, the math and poetry are one in the same.  Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Bradd Pitt) as portrayed in Moneyball is not exactly one of these savants, but he tries to bring off the marriage of seeming opposites out of necessity.  He's aided by the much more statistically-inclined Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young economics graduate of Yale University, whom he acquires from the Cleveland Indians after he practically gets laughed out of the Indians' offices after trying to bring off trades for actual players with the depleted stock of his ball club after the 2001 season.

Moneball, based of the book of the same title by Michael Lewis, chronicles the …