ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
US, 1999, 151 minutes, Colour.
Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Jamie Foxx, L. L. Cool j, Matthew Modine, Charlton Heston, Ann- Margret, Aaron Eckhart, John C. Mc Ginley, Jim Brown, Lela Rochon, Lauren Holly, Elizabeth Berkely.
Directed by Oliver Stone.
The main reason for seeing Any Given Sunday is for American football fans. There is a great deal of play (and it is said that ten minutes of play were cut from the American version for overseas release). The other reason for seeing the film is that it is an Oliver Stone film. He brings the same kind of frantic energy to his look at football, management, coaches, the players, the background as he did to his films about war. In fact, the coach in this film continually refers to the players as warriors and urges them on in terms of battle and winning and losing. Stone also employs a great variety of cinematic techniques to give an impression of play, energy and a variety of perspectives on the game. His musical score is quite extensive, contemporary songs, old songs, music to capture the spirit of football. He also uses a couple of scenes from Ben Hur, especially the chariot race, to be intercut with contemporary scenes of striving to win.
He also has an excellent cast with Al Pacino leading as the almost burnt-out coach and Dennis Quaid as the football player on the verge of retiring. Jamie Foxx is the up and coming player with L. L. Cooljay as the player on the way out. James Woods brings his usual acerbic tone to one of the medical assistants for the team with Matthew Modine as his low-key and pleasant assistant. The women have less striking roles - a characteristic of Oliver Stone films like his war films and Wall Street. Cameron Diaz is the owner of the football team, at one stage Charlton Heston remarking that he thought she would eat her young. However, she eventually mellows, especially under the influence of her alcoholic mother, well played by Ann-Margret?. Lela Rochon and Lauren Holly play the girlfriends of the players, often unsympathetic in their wanting the pay packet rather than the good of their boyfriends. Elizabeth Berkely is a high-priced call girl.
The film says a lot about the background of sport, the cutthroat competitiveness, the goodwill and enmities of the players - but, above all, the need to play as a team.
1. The appeal of the film for American audiences? Football fans? For those who don't understand the game? For those outside the United States?
2. The title and its reference to the fact that football matches like those shown here are played on any given Sunday in the United States?
3. The Miami settings, the football stadium, the grandstand, the boxes, the changing rooms? So much of the film spent in these spaces? Authentic atmosphere? The homes, hotels, clubs? An affluent world?
4. The musical score, the wide range of songs? Musical background? The use of Ben Hur and its being intercut at crucial times into the action of the film?
5. The cinematic style, the different camera usages, editing, pace? Different perspectives?
6. The status of American football in the United States, competitive sport, the players as icons (and for commercial use as well)? Ownership, big business? Fans and love of the sport?
7. The focus on the games themselves, the details of the play? The opening match, the Sharks losing? The matches interspersed in the film? The final match, Cap coming off, Willie going back on, Christina and her threats, the clash with Tony? Willie and the final moments of the game, the referee giving against the Sharks, the final throw and the score?
8. Al Pacino as Tony, age and experience, as coach, the losing streak? His moving up and down the lines, in radio contact with advisers? His tactics, Cap and his injuries and his coming off? The relationship with Christina and the arguments with her? His relationship with his assistant coach, Montezuma Munro? The contact with Nick Crozier? His private life, giving himself completely to the team? His choice of Willie, becoming a father figure? The interviews, the clashes, Willie and his commercial choices and Tony's antipathy towards the commercial world? The discussions and interviews with Shark Lavay? The threats from Christina, the status of the club, his memories of contracts with her father and giving his word? The approach by Mandy Murphy, his rejection, his later taking it up, the affair with her? His handling of the team, the individual members? The clashes with Jack Rose? The build-up to the finale, the threats from Christina, her coming to the changing room, his fight with her, his having fallen out with Willie, Cap and his final injury, Willie coming to his rescue, going on, the final achievement? Tony and the retirement celebration, accepting a new coaching position and his wanting Willie to be in that team? Portrait of a coach?
9. The assistant coaches, their love for the game, strategies, diplomacy with the players? Tony and his orders? Christina? Nick Crozier and his being in the commentary box, in radio contact with each party?
10. The players: Cap Rooney and his achievement, age, injury, being out of the team, morale-boosting? The operation, his comeback, final injury? On the sideline but supportive? His wife, her pressures on him, discussions and arguments, her needing the pay packet, his love for the game? Lavay, the interviews, his role in the team, the final injury and his being taken off? Willie Beamen, the up and coming player, getting his chance, being feted, the media, Tony and his support? Willie and his commercials, the interviews, his artificiality, the details of the commercials - with the sport and sexy overtones? His falling out with the team? His being brought back in, supported by Christina, his claiming that Tony was sending him on, the final achievement? The other players, on the field, their comments to each other, clashes with the opposition teams, the camaraderie in the changing rooms, on tour?
11. Dr Mandrake and his harsh tongue, pressure, examining the players, giving them the okay, his business sense? The contrast with Ollie, calmer, more interested in the players and in medicine?
12. Christina, inheriting the club from her father, his efforts, his wanting a boy, her never being able to live up to his expectations? Her harshness, business sense, her discussions with the commissioner and his negative response to her? Her clashes with Tony? Decisions about the team? Her clashes with her mother, concern about her drinking, the final discussion, their standing with the poodles, her mellowing?
13. Margaret and her drinking, memories of her husband, love for her daughter, present at the sport, taking occasion to drink, the wise advice for her daughter? Vanessa, her relationship with Willie, its ups and downs, Cindy and her relationship with her husband? The call girls, Mandy Murphy and her approach to Tony, being rejected, taking it in her stride, his later calling her, the affair?
14. A gallery of characters associated with sport? Human nature? Good and evil? Competitiveness - especially Tony's speeches, especially the speech in the changing room at the close urging them on to battle? Insight into sport, management, and the American character?