Film Review



Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday is now over 15 years old and thanks to the Blu-ray format, this visually expressive blitzkrieg-of-a-sports-film just bleeds off the screen. Featuring a supremely aggressive audio/visual package, this is totally-in-your-face filmmaking at all times, featuring hurtling, stylized, frenzied cinematography from master cinematographer Salvatore Totino that shakes the senses; it boggles the mind to think that this was his first big studio feature as a director of photography. The amount of coverage, the insanity of the camera placement, the constant ramping of film speed and visual distortions and augmentations are staggering to witness, and if you’re a cinematography junkie like me, this film is a constant source of maxed-out pleasure. The hyperactive yet still lucid editing is in perfect tandem with the over the top subject material and everything is played at just the right tone and pitch. The eclectic musical score compliments every wild and crazy scene, mixing rap, metal, and classical songs with the techno stylings of Moby in more than one instance. Al Pacino is at his Shouting-Mad best here, and he gets some seriously good dialogue from John Logan and Stone; his “inches” locker room speech is one for the ages, ridiculously quotable, epitomizing the idea of coaching ferocity. Stone brought major directorial intensity to each and every scene in this scathing indictment of professional football; in retrospect this film feels very ahead of its time, with a cold and cynical message purveyed at all times, feeling more relevant now than it did upon first release. The absurdly deep cast all deliver deeply committed performances; standouts are an icy Cameron Diaz, a perfectly weathered Dennis Quaid, sleazy James Woods pushing pain killers on the players, and of course, the flashy and confident work of then-acting-newcomer Jamie Foxx, who held his own with all of the veteran actors, knowing when to ease up and allow others to have their space, while still getting a chance to cut loose with his arrogant, show-boating character. The sequence where he has dinner with Pacino and the chariot race from Ben-Hur is playing in the background is still one of my favorite scenes in any film. And let’s not forget about the in-credits stinger during the final credit roll – so nasty! Great football action, sharp satire, fantastic visuals, and dynamite sound design help make this one of the best sports movies of all time.


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