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The downside of Pitt’s triumph is that it unbalances the movie, throwing more of the focus on Billy than the team. To put Moneyball over the fence, Miller and his writers needed to make something else hit home: the meaning of the on-base percentage. What does it say about a player who can’t throw far, can’t steal a base, rarely hits a ball over the fence, and yet can be as great an asset as a future Hall of Famer? Instead of answering that question—and dramatizing how wins can be built from unflashy players working in sync under a manager who understands “small ball”—Miller shifts into montage mode (They won! They won again! They’re on a streak!), as if Beane and Brand had written a computer program that was running to its inevitable conclusion. That, of course, leaves the team’s manager, Art Howe (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, maybe to pay Miller back for helping him win an Oscar in Capote), a cipher, a nonpresence on and off the field. Moneyball has everything but team spirit.

In Andrew Haigh’s gentle and incisive Weekend, two British gay men—Russell (Tom Cullen), an awkward, semi-closeted lifeguard, and Glen (Chris New), a cheeky artist—meet in a club, have sex, and then talk, graphically, about the sex they had, and what they thought when they first saw each other, and why Russell is uncomfortable being out, and Glen’s art project, in which gay men talk about sex, that he thinks no one will come to see: not gays because there won’t be any visible cock, not straights because “it’s got nothing to do with their world.” And just when you’re squirming and thinking there might be a little too much navel-gazing here for one film, the men’s easy intimacy begins to seem like a respite, a time-out from a world in which sex talk is either giggly and salacious or nonexistent. Haigh mixes long shots of high rises, of people held apart by their apartments, with loose, warm scenes of Russell and Glen coming out of themselves. Will they stay together? I hate to damage so fragile a work with overpraise, but, gay or straight, if you don’t see yourself in this movie, you need to get a life.

Moneyball
Directed by Bennett Miller.
Sony Pictures.
PG-13.

Weekend
Directed by Andrew Haigh.
Sundance Selects. NR.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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