Brotherhood of the Wolf

The two times I sat in parts of it, I don’t remember Brotherhood of the Wolf being the sloppy hodgepodge I finally saw in totality last night. Like, I’m mad I was so close to posting on Facebook I’ll be watching it. Technically I did see it then, but only finally in its entirety. It’s another movie I stumbled on (but held off on viewing for ten years, I guess) but unlike Irreversible, which also had Bellucci and Cassel and the daughter-fucking Butcher by Philippe Nahon, this was a severe and disappointing deviation from my early impressions. In Irreversible’s case, it was so notorious that I kind of went all voyeuristic rubberneck and prematurely viewed some clips. I had to. But I hold no regrets. I think I’m of the kind that thinks fuck spoilers because the only true ones apply to twist endings, and those are basically an immature plot device, a director’s cop out when he knows the jig is up. They cut both ways but more often than not the wielder will show a few scars too many. Here, films tend to be like a boxing match you know the outcome of but are more interested in how its destination has been arrived to. In film, it is more the cinematic journey, the round by round, blow by blow development that is impervious to some spoilers. But I don’t go around Wikipedia reading the plot section before deciding ‘oh, I’ve got to see this.’ Listen, man.. at what point is spoiler-free truly free? We’ve long learned how to handle the asshole that spills beans every scene — Scarface fans anywhere? — so is it when you abstain from even reading the synopsis? Or watching the trailer? How gullible can you be if your sole source of intrigue is trailers, nowadays? And I never understood going in blind, as if movies were some all you can eat buffet. Was that a subliminal jab at Netflixing? Movies are like fine dining — be that a delicacy or a reputed chef, you don’t go in completely unbiased. There is some deliberation. Okay, so two analogies is enough to show you I know what I’m talking about. On to the review. Continue reading

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Al Pacino

Dodgy game action sequences aside, Oliver Stone’s ode to sports drama and hedonism is an editing tour de force, there’s no denying. But does it deserve to be praised as genre defining, is the question. In a film that covers possibly all the dynamics and forces exerted on a modern sports franchise (results, results, results) Any Given Sunday truly is an all encompassing portrayal, second only to HBO’s Hard Knocks in terms of dramatized realism. It’s no NFL Films and he’s no Sabol. He does get a few things right — mainly how the black athlete is constantly under threat of the diva affliction. Yes, the ultimate team sport can be an hotbed for elitist, “me first” syndrome. Yet given that football often provides a fitting microcosm of American ethos, coupled with America’s discomfort with what it deems a checkered past, the NFL would follow suit and deny Stone use of any likeness to the real thing in his film. That’s right, Any Given Sunday is a throwback to a time when purveyors of hard hits freely and openly pulled groupies on the road. I suppose one of the film’s excesses (two kinds of which exist but we’ll only concern ourselves with one at a time) proved problematic for the NFL to lend (associate) its image to (with) even then, at the time of its release. Despite that, for large stretches, the film looks and sounds great. It suffers from inconsistencies like the aforementioned arcadey sequences, and terrible uniforms. Hence we join the 7-4 Miami Sharks midseason in the fictional AFFA league. But the film is at its strongest when the chaotic, off-the-field happenings and shenanigans are laid bare. But right before we fully dive in, the top two choices at QB in their depth chart get seriously injured in quick succession, with an unproven prospect sitting next line. Continue reading