Brad Pitt is terrific as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, a former player who had a short career but went to the top of his game as the head of a team in a small market. Beane had to rebuild his team with a small budget, and after he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale graduate and a master of stats, he changes how he puts a value on the players that he signs. He goes after affordable athletes whose stats show how valuable they may be in doing the little things it takes to win. Beane is at odds with his manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who does not believe in Billy's new system.
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We get to see what happens behind the scenes as Billy wheels and deals with other general managers to get players who fit his mold. You will become a believer in statistics, as players with lesser talent put together a long winning streak. "Moneyball" is more than a baseball film; it's filled with emotion, humor, tenderness and a belief that the underdog can come out on top.
"Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season"
One of HBO's most popular series, "Boardwalk Empire" won eight Emmy Awards including Best Actor for Steve Buscemi and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. The story centers around Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Buscemi), an Atlantic City politician and bootlegger in the 1920s who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He deals with gangsters who want to get in on the action as well as political leaders who wield power. The series is brutal at times as Thompson battles federal agents and the powerful mobsters of the era. The writing and ensemble cast are top-notch, and the five-disc set includes all 12 episodes along with many exciting bonus features.
"25th Anniversary: Les Miserables in Concert"
PBS ran this outstanding concert during its pledge drive, and phones around the country lit up. The 2010 concert in London features the cast of two productions performing live with an orchestra, huge chorus and video screens. The cast is in costume, and they perform the songs that audiences around the world have come to love, from the rousing "Do You Hear the People Sing" to the tender "Bring Him Home." One of the highlights is when the 1985 cast joins in for an encore, along with four of the original Jean Valjeans performing together. You will be moved and touched by this concert seen by millions.
"Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1994-2003"
The late Peter Falk reprised his most famous role as a police lieutenant for the Los Angeles Police Department in seven excellent mystery movies. He always looked out-of-sorts, with his wrinkled coat and hard-to-follow questions. But there was a method to his madness as Columbo pieced together the clues and solved the crime. The writing and acting were first-class, and the guest stars in this three-disc set include Rue McClanahan, George Wendt, Tyne Daly and William Shatner.
Available next week:
• "Bombay Beach"
• "Bill Moyers: Amazing Grace"
• "Ides of March"
• "Magnum, P.I.: Season One"
• "Race to Space: America's Greatest Journey"
• "Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless"