Any Given Sunday
Details: (MA15+), 150 mins, United States, English
Synopsis: Once the darlings of the football league, the Miami Sharks are heading for their fourth straight defeat and everyone is looking to veteran coach Tony D\'Amato (Al Pacino) to do something about it. Team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), who has taken over following the death of her father, is not a fan of D\'Amato\'s coaching tactics. She\'s convinced the Sharks\' losing streak can be directly attributed to D\'Amato\'s reluctance to replace his aging and injured one time star quarterback, Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid), with brash rookie Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx), who, in addition to his football skills, readily personifies Pagliacci\'s \"win at all cost, show me the money\" credo. With the all-important finals coming up, D\'Amato knows that a wrong decision will not only knock his team out of the competition, it could also signal the end of his career.
The usual sports morality tale except the characters are interesting and the performances solid.
Rather thin threads of narrative joined by visceral images of high impact sport feature in Any Given Sunday... Tony D`Amato (Al Pacino) is having a bad run as coach of the Miami Sharks, they`ve lost their last three games and the playoffs are looming. This is not going down well with the Shark`s owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz ) who inherited the team from her father. She`s not really a lover of the game like Tony, she`s a corporate shark who knows how to value the team to the nearest $100 million. The Sharks have their problems - veteran quarterback Jack Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid) has serious back injuries and upstart replacement Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) just can`t stop recent success going to his head... and the team doctors James Woods and Matthew Modine are at odds on ethics...
It`s the old story - honour versus money...I find the subtleties of gridiron rather elusive but fortunately there`s not a lot that`s subtle about this movie. Stone, who plays a commentator, lets it all hang out. Quick cuts, slo-mo, vivid reds, black and white, set piece power plays on the sidelines, a morality tale about playing for the team is repeated quite often, just so we get it. It isn`t about winning, it`s about how you play the game. Bull Durham proved what you can do with a sports as metaphor for life movie but Oliver Stone just goes for it head on...
Not my kind of movie, but given plenty of energy by Oliver Stone and very fine performances from Al Pacino, James Woods and the rest. I was puzzled by the presence of Charlton Heston prominently on a large TV screen in BEN-HUR and later playing a football official. In the longer version I saw in America, there was far too much football; I gather this has been trimmed. The characters are interesting, especially Pacino as the man with nothing in his life but the game which is being soiled by crass commercialsm.
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