The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)
Former major league baseball player Moe Berg lives a double life working for the Office of Strategic Services in World War II Europe.
The Age of Commercialism
what a terribly boring film. I'm sorry but this is absolutely not deserving of best picture and will be forgotten quickly. Entertaining and engaging cinema? No. Nothing performances with flat faces and mistaking silence for subtlety.
The story, direction, characters, and writing/dialogue is akin to taking a tranquilizer shot to the neck, but everything else was so well done.
A terrific literary drama and character piece that shows how the process of creating art can be seen differently by those doing it and those looking at it from the outside.
Wish it had been another half hour longer. It was a great movie, and based on a really cool guy, Moe Berg. I really liked him and it was cool to see Paul Rudd in a drama. I would definitely recommend this movie.
I liked the movie. He was a very secretive person who lived a double life and had secrets and he never wanted to talk about what he did as a spy, so information about may be scarce.
Ben Lewin has brought Nicholas Dawidoff 1994 biography about the mysterious Moe Berg. And Moe Berg remained a mystery until he died. Here's food for thought: when you think of Jews in baseball Moe Berg's name doesn't easily come to mind. Hank Grrenberg, yes. Sandy Kofax, for sure. Not Moe Berg who played for the Boston Red Sox during the 20s and the 30s. 'The Catcher was a Spy' is a conventional film with a fascinating 'hero': a polyglot, a polymath, born of Eastern Europeans Jews who settled in Harlem. And yet, Berg, played by a charming Paul Rudd who like his character celebrates tight lip secrecy. It is to Rudd's credit to have learned smatterings of six or seven languages to give body to his character who know many, many more. Berg graduated summa laude from Princeton when few Jews could attend. A lawyer from Columbia law who passed the bar before he finished his degree. Yet baseball was his life as was spying. The script writers give short shift to the spy Berg when he went to Japan with an all-star team that included Babe Ruth. We get the idea Berg dresses up as a Japanese in full kimono, armed with a camera films from the roof of a hospital Tokyo Harbor which had a dual use as a military facility. It would have taken too much to explain the prewar politics and the role of Japan invading Manchuria, testing America's and European empires' turf in Asia. So, although Berg was acting on behalf of a rudimentary US spy agency, Lewin's script white washes it as an act of a patriot. There is a 'love' story, but beneath the surface the film there is a flaw, a 'moral flaw' for the time. Was Berg queer? Probably. A scene of a night visit to the waterfront frequented by men, and non reputable bars frequented soley by men. Now to the film: Wild Bill Donovan, founder of the OSS, predecessor to the CIA, recruits Berg after Pearl Harbor. Donovan asks him if he's queer. And without a beat, Rudd replies, 'I know how to keep secrets'; to which Donovan replies, I don't care wo a man f--ks, I'm only interested if he's wants us to win the war'. Berg's assignment is to kill Werner Heisenberg, father of the German nuclear bomb. And here the film takes wings...and a high moment of the 'Catcher was a Spy' is when Rudd and Strong play mental chess, to fathom have the Germans the bomb. And here we see Berg has a dialectical frame of mind, he's willing to spare Heisenberg for an answer that Germany's nuclear project is not very advanced. (Heisenberg is the object of an award winning play "Copenhagen' that infers Heisenberg purposefully delayed Hitler's plans for a nuclear weapon.) The camera turns all over the place Japan, Italy, New York and Switzerland. Long shots, close shots, it runs the full alphabet of film making. Rudd speaks his languages fairly well with a good accent, but slips briefly when it comes to French. There is nothing dramatically wrong, but the film never plumbs the secretive Moe Berg. At the end we are told Berg never married and spent time in libraries. And yet he never left the CIAin mind and spirit and died the loner he was.
There are going to be lovers and haters of this movie depending on your taste and how much you like to pick holes in the acting and plot. Picky people will find many in this movie.With all the big name actors it had you would expect it to be at least good and for me it was, I enjoyed it and never once wanted to stop watching, for me that is a sign of a good movie.Paul Rudd, who I don't always like as and actor was very good in this, the rest of the cast do a fine job, most are prominent actors who I expect to do well in any movie they are in.The fact it is based on a true story can be either a benefit of hindrance depending on how the story is handled, this one was handled quite well in my opinion and while it will never win any awards it is worth watching.Not a perfect movie, but good enough to watch more than once.