"Say it aint so?" Says the little baseball fan to his idol Buck Weaver (John Cusack). Well it true - when Chicago White Sox took bribes to loose the 1919 world series.John Sayles takes some of the themes he explored in Matewan and puts them into the baseball game as the characters are more interesting than the game itself. Robert Richardsons light shows us historic details on the story that could easily be a play.
Another jaundiced Sayles pic about capitalism, exploitation, and the backrooms where narratives of history are doctored and contested. It is workmanlike. Not anxious to sway in terms of its exploitation of the possibilities of the medium. Sayles would subsequently go further as an artist. The nice thing about this particular Sayles is that, for an old-school prosthelytizer of the left, he is remarkably unpretentious.
The responsibility of recounting historical fact forces Sayles to treat his characters functionally, without the lyricism that gives his most marginal subjects a sense of human dignity. Unfortunately, it also fails to effectively convey the societal implications of the tale, the events feeling self-contained, irrelevant. Although made with Sayles' usual uncomplicated elegance, this film simply ought to be better.