Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

Moneyball (♦♦♦♦)

Billy Beane, former baseball player, now General Manager of Oakland’s Athletics, has to deal with budget constraints. Facing the loss of his three star players to other teams, he has to replace them, but can’t pay high salaries that major franchises in the league can afford.

Billy Beane meets Peter Brand, a graduate of economics from Yale, who focuses on statistics rather than personalities. By removing the human factor and focusing purely on players’ performances, Brand is able to predict winning games. Beane forms a team that successfully beats the odds and critics to set the record for consecutive wins in a season, thus changing the rules of the game.

There are magnificent performances in this film, starting with Brad Pitt--whose acting is a tour-de-force—and his wingmen Jonah Hill (welcome to the big leagues!) and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The script is funny at times, but overall provides all the drama and excitement deriving from our favorite past-time. It is an emotional, uplifting movie considering that it was up to a team of overlooked players to change the rules of the game.