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Million Dollar Arm


Tyler
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Deadline:

Mad Men star Jon Hamm has become attached to play a sports agent in Million Dollar Arm, the drama based on the true story of how sports agent J.B. Bernstein discovered professional pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel through a reality show he staged in India with cricket players. Mayhem Pictures’ Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray are producing with Joe Roth and Palak Patel of Roth Films. Thomas McCarthy wrote the script and the plan is to shoot in the fall.


The story is from May, but I couldn't Million Dollar Arm mentioned anywhere on the board. The first I heard of it was in the thread about the Catholic Church molestation movie McCarthy is working on. (The Variety story in the thread mentions this movie in a footnote.)

This ESPN Outside the Lines story profiles Singh and Patel.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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  • 1 year later...

The trailer played in front of American Hustle when I saw it this afternoon, and I can't remember a movie that looks this bad that has so many people I really like (Hamm, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Aasif Mandvi, Gillespie, McCarthy) involved. Dream House, maybe.

 

Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) plays one of the pitchers.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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  • 5 months later...

It's okay. 

 

Hits all the notes you expect it to hit, in order, with no surprises. The Indian setting freshens up the underdog sports-movie formula a bit, although the soundtrack coarsens the effect, and the movie isn't much more interested in India than Ham's character is. 

 

The biggest problem is Ham's character, J.B., is so completely unsympathetic for so long that it's hard to start caring for him when his redemptive arc gets underway. Anyway, why is the story about J.B. at all, and not the Indian pitchers? 

 

The Indian pitchers aren't developed much. Mostly they serve as a point of contrast to materialistic, self-absorbed, unprincipled J.B. They're spiritual — they pray, or at least meditate — and oriented toward marriage and family. They tell J.B. he's getting up there in years and really ought to settle down and raise a family, and, when J.B. winds up spending the night with Lake Bell's girl next door, they almost expect him to marry her. I dunno, is that the culture in India? 

 

I can believe our Indian heroes have never held a baseball before. Are they really unfamiliar with pizza? I wonder. At times I thought maybe it would have been more interesting for the movie to explore what people from different cultures have in common, not just what they don't. 

 

My 60 second review. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY8sdgaIyLs&list=PLPu38Ui5dTDINmv5o5eF6Y0GAlkTBqoeP&index=4 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I endorse SDG's review.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 3 months later...

Alex von Tunzelmann @ Guardian gives the film a B- for both entertainment and history, e.g.:

 

JB Bernstein has failed to sign a major star to the independent agency he has started with Ash Vasudevan (Aasif Mandvi), and his business is slowly collapsing. The prospect of having to downsize his lifestyle and – horrors – maybe even sell his flashy car sends him into a panic. The film's characterisation of Bernstein as a total princess is fair and, if anything, toned down. By page seven of his memoir, also called Million Dollar Arm, he's bragging in American Psycho-like detail about his designer clothes and absurd watch collection ("30 timepieces, lined up as neatly as soldiers … Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Breitling – the reward I gave myself for doing well"). The only way to make such a character sympathetic is to cast Jon Hamm, who has an unusual ability to express the vulnerable core beneath highly strung men's control-freak exteriors. Fortunately for this film, it has cast him. . . .

 

Inspired by the tale of Yao Ming, the 7ft 6in basketball player from Shanghai who became a megastar in the US, Bernstein and Vasudevan decide they're going to find a baseball player in India. They get Chinese businessman Will Chang (Tzi Ma) to finance their effort, and are off. In real life, it was Chang who brought Vasudevan and Bernstein together – and some sources imply that he was responsible for the original idea, too. . . .

 

The film has sharpened some of Bernstein's experiences to make his transformation more humbling and therefore, theoretically, more charming. In real life, Singh and Patel did not move into Bernstein's home; that they lived in a "beautiful mansion that Ash had found for us right on the USC campus". Brenda was really an immaculately groomed aviation executive. The real Bernstein's awestruck description: "She made seven figures a year, drove a Porsche 911, and owned a yacht." Reader, he married her. As for whether Million Dollar Arm tells Singh and Patel's stories fairly, the real Singh – who now speaks English – has said: "I would say the movie's 80% a completely true story … You know, they have to put a little cheap cream on top of it to make it taste better." . . .

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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