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Any Given Sunday

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 05-10-2010


Life is a contact sport and football is life when three-time academy award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone and a dynamic acting ensemble explore the fortunes of the Miami Sharks in Any Given Sunday. At the 50-year line of this gridiron cosmos is Al Pacino as Tony D’Amato, the embattled Sharks coach facing a full-on blitz of team strife plus a new, marketing-savvy sharks owner (Cameron Diaz) who’s sure Tony is way too old school. An injured quarterback (Dennis Quaid), a flash… More >>

Any Given Sunday

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Comments (5)

No one can accuse Oliver Stone of being original. In 1987’s Wall Street he took the age old story of a youngster being seduced by money and power and turned into one of the most scathing attacks on heartless Capitalism. So predictably Any Given Sunday doesn’t really have anything new to say, just a lot of old things to shout.

One negative review of the film said “Stone directs like a deranged rooftop sniper”. And with full frontal nudity, severed eyeballs on the feild and a general air of violent intensity it is clear that the film is excessive. But that is also why it works. Stone manages to give the viewer that voyeuristic delight of a peeping tom who’s only allowed to look at something for two seconds before he pulls the camera away. As he did with JFK and NIXON, Stone uses every camera angle concievable, but unlike those two films Any Given Sunday never really becomes a flawless whole.

The film tells the story of the Miami Sharks head coach Tony D’amato(Al Pacino looking very angry). His team is on a losing streak, his quarterback(Dennis Qauid) is injured and is replaced by the talented but ego-centric Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx), who according to D’amato “may sell a lot of T-shirts but is ripping the team apart”. Now D’amato has got to battle this kid, the greedy ice cold team owner (Cameron Diaz) and a corrupt team doctor who lets injured players on the field despite fatal risks and then justifies it to himself with twisted morality(James Woods). The scenes between these four principles are stunning, and even there Stone refuses to let the camera sit still. It might have been a wiser descision to tone down the off-field scenes.

Any Given Sunday may seem from its reviews as a tradional sports movie, with the big game ending and bonding theme. While it has those, it far too cynical and ambitious to be just about that. Just incase you don’t get it, Stone gives you images of Ben Hur (Football as the modern Gladiator arena) and even casts Charlton Heston as the league comissioner. And ofcourse you get the prescribed dose of anti-consumerism ranting.

In final analysis, Any Given Sunday is not a great film or a historical achievement. But its frequently inspired, always fixating and exhausting. When it hits, it hits very hard.
Rating: 4 / 5

Oliver Stone scored big on this one also. The film is filled with action-packed, hard-core football scenes when not concentrating on character development. The “shaky” camera scenes added to the overall intensity of the film. Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, James Woods, Mathew Modine, Cameron Diaz, Bill Bellamy, Dennis Quaid, Lauren Holly, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, Lela Rochon, Ann Margret, Andrew Bryniarski and even Charlton Heston as the Commissioner played their parts to perfection. Inspiring locker-room motivational speeches and on-the-field camera angles made the film seem real-life. If not for the amusing team names and uniform selections, one would believe they were watching clips from a professional football game. Overall, a very entertaining movie, and a must-see for hard-core football fans.
Rating: 5 / 5

Are you suffering from the annual bout of post-Super Bowl depression (PSBD)? Is this Sunday, the first since the end of the NFL season, leaving you feeling lost, already looking ahead to September so you can resume watching a collection of pumped-up, tattoed freaks of nature perform astounding feats of physical prowess? Are you terrified at the thought of having to spend Sundays reading, going outside, or spending quality time with loved ones? Well, if you are, you could do a lot worse than to postpone the onset of PSBD by reclining in your favorite easy chair and watching Any Given Sunday.

Any Given Sunday has a lot to recommend it. It’s got a sweet Hollywood budget, a cast loaded to the brim with talent (and no sign of Keanu Reeves, thankfully; I’m still having nightmares from the time I watched the Replacements), and the direction of the one and only Oliver Stone. In following the turbulent last quarter of a season in the life of the (fictional) Miami Sharks of the (fictional) AFFA, the movie combines an operatic scope with an almost fanatical attention to detail and loads of heavy philosophy for a film whose best moments (whether on the field or not) are as hard-hitting as anything you’ll see in a real game. Sure, the movie trots out an endless series of hackneyed plot devices and stock characters, but Stone manages to breathe life into all of them.

A no-holds-barred if sensationalistic examination of professional football both on and off the field, Any Given Sunday is both believable and completely ridiculous at the same time, a monument to excess that is in itself wildly excessive. It starts punishing your senses right away, with two quarterbacks suffering catastrophic injuries and a third throwing up before taking his first snap, and it doesn’t relax much from there on out, either in its torrid pace or in its commitment to full sensory assault. Indeed, this may be the fastest two-and-a-half-hour movie ever made. Like an all-out blitz up the middle, it comes at you relentlessly, and also like an all-out blitz, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At times it seems as though Stone just tried to take the themes and conflicts that made Platoon such an artistic triumph and graft them onto a football movie. The movie goes for an outsized, epic feel at almost all times, with varying degrees of success.

At turns frenetic and painfully slow, Stone’s camerawork makes for perhaps the best cinematic representation yet of the intensity and ferocity of pro football, and the movie’s grasp of the game’s strategical minutiae is a sign of a director who’s done his homework. Regrettably, Stone’s emphasis on brutal hits and flashy shots also takes something away from the inherent sophistication of the pro game, making it look like little more than the product of excessive testosterone levels. Of course, what happens on the field is only part of the story, as Stone makes sure to present the viewer with look at all the sordid goings-on that occur behind the scenes. It’s here that the movie really throws everything but the kitchen sink at you, politely ensuring that boredom doesn’t set in between game scenes. You’ve got fights; rampant substance abuse; players fornicating left and right; a mammoth SUV getting sawed in half; scads of gratuitous nudity; guys playing when they shouldn’t even be trying to walk and chew gum and the same time; and lots of hot women acting extremely catty. And that’s just a short list.

Alright, I’ve somehow managed to fill up four paragraphs with this review, so it’s time to cut things off here. At any rate, while certainly not without its flaws, Any Given Sunday is one immensely enjoyable movie, especially for the football nut. So check it out if you haven’t already.
Rating: 3 / 5

This was truly an excellent film. This movie is Oliver Stone’s best since Platoon. The fast-moving and dizzying cinemaphotography fits the high adrenaline atmosphere of the professional football world well. The film is also perfectly cast. Pacino gives life to the head coach, and Cameron Diaz’s clearly most intense role as the team’s owner is believeable. James Woods gives an excellent performance as the team doctor, who doesn’t really seem to care about anyone but himself. Jamie Foxx has a breakthrough dramatic role as the new hotshot quarterback, whose ritualistic vomiting adds humor to the movie. With his performance, we find out Foxx really can act. LL Cool J, also puts through a convincing performance as the team’s running back. Dennis Quaid doesn’t really do much as the former QB with injury problems except help to develop Pacino’s character. An outstanding cast, that features Charlton Heston as the football comissioner, and Ann-Margaret as Cameron Diaz’s alcoholic mother. Former pro football players Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor pop up as members of the team. I recommend it highly. This is possibly the best sports movie ever made.
Rating: 5 / 5

Forget the well-written script, forget the acting, forget Oliver Stone’s best direction work in years, forget an almost-perfect ensemble cast, forget gorgeous (if overdone) cinematography, forget perfect sound. Well, don’t forget it, I guess, because we’ll come back to it, but put it in the back of your head for a while. The true star of Any Given Sunday is the incredible choreography. A good deal of this movie takes place on the gridiron itself as twenty-two men pound each other into submission every Sunday. Bones strain and crack, blood flows, muscles and ligaments tear, and it’s all captured oh so lovingly on film. It’s difficult to watch for a non-football fan like myself (don’t know any football fans who have seen it yet, so can’t comment), but even while flinching at the sound of a body hitting the ground after being battered by two even bigger bodies in midair, it’s still visually stunning. Just the football scenes alone would be enough to lift this movie to above-average status.

That said, Any Given Sunday just plain rocks. It’s the story of a whole lot of seemingly morally bankrupt people whose lives have been negatively affected by football. Coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) has been with the Miami Sharks since their beginnings, and quarterback Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) has been there with him for well over half the team’s existence. But Rooney is thirty-eight, well beyond the normal end of career for a football quarterback, and as should be expected, he goes down one too many times and screws something up in his chest. String 2 QB goes down after one play with a knee injury. That leaves D’Amato’s third and last hope, a benchwarmer named Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx). Beamen ignores the playbook, calls his own plays, and turns the team around. Of course, in favoring one receiver and trash-talking (deservedly, it should be noted) the team’s defensive line, he makes a whole lot of enemies inside the club, with the expcted results. Add to this shortlist the team founder’s widow (Ann-Margaret), an alcoholic whose sole desire is to get away form the game, and daughter (Cameron Diaz), the team’s present GM, who also wants to get away from the game, but with as much money as she can get for selling the team.

Despite the fact that every one of these folks gives an excellent performance (save the woefully miscast Diaz, who does the best she can with her role), the one person in this film who truly shines in the role of “person whose personality has been completely warped by football” is Cap Rooney’s trophy wife, Cindy (Lauren Holly). The woman is a flaming, gold-plated, iron-balled, moneygrubbing PBFH, and Holly plays the role to the hilt. This leads me to believe that switching Diaz and Holly would have been in the best interests of the film; Holly would have made a great shady GM. But you play with what you got.

Another person to single out is Jamie Foxx, who’s always been relegated to minor comedic roles before this. Stone threw him in with the big boys here, and many of them (Pacino, Quaid, James Woods and Matt Modine as the team’s orthopedists, etc.). Foxx holds his own. It’s not an Oscar-caliber performance, but like Jim Carrey last year, Foxx showed he’s more than capable of playing a dramatic role and playing it well. Hopefully this will be the breakout role for Foxx. He’s helped by a minor cast and a bunch of football-related cameos who obviously love being here. None of them looked familiar to me, save football great Lawrence “L.T.” Taylor as a rival coach who spends more time taunting Pacino than he does coaching his own team.

As for Stone, what’s he doing here? Maybe he finally realized what the rest of the world did, that he went way off the deep end after Platoon. If this is his attempt at atonement, he bought himself a few centuries’ worth of indulgence. The politics here are the politics of teamwork, aside from a minor subplot with Cameron Diaz soaking Miami’s mayor for money for a new stadium. There are no ludicrous conspiracies, no embittered war veterans, no high-profile politicians to be ridiculed, only a bunch of people who have been pushed to the limit by a sport. It’s The Godfather without the Mafia, and Stone handles it as capably as he’s handled anything. The style is the same– lots of darkness, gloom, and somewhat glorified violence– but it’s nice to see it applied to something nonpolitical for the first time since his highly-underrated horror classic The Hand.

So having praised it to the high heavens, what’s wrong with the movie? Why isn’t it the greatest film of all time? A few minor things, mostly. I’ve already mentioned Diaz. And some of the cinematography– if you cut out all of the slow-motion long bomb passes except for the first one, the movie might have been fifteen minutes shorter (and it runs well over two and a half hours). The soundtrack, while oddly effective, gets annoying after a while; you hear a lot of songs, and it’s a great mix of stuff spanning the sixties to Kid Rock’s most recent single, but you never hear more than a few seconds of any song. Even the now-banned “Rock and Roll Part Two” gets a few bars early on.

Excellent filmmaking, especially when held up against the last seventeen years of Oliver Stone’s career.
Rating: 4 / 5

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