Somewhere between the speed boats, standard-issue supercars, and deep cover meet-ups, Miami Vice demands an increasing threshold of incredulity. By no means is this a flaw except while on the one hand you have to contest with suspension of disbelief to a point, you also end up struggling to keep up. Lost in the curt retorts and snappish dialog—mostly Sonny’s murmurs—is half the spoken lines in Mann’s script, notorious as ever for dropping pronouns and use of jargon-heavy dialog. Couple that with a possibly botched boom job and inaudible lines and it’s a jumble too difficult to follow without subtitles. And that’s the way most cinema was intended to be consumed. Vice fails there. And yet somewhere in the mess is film to be salvaged. So it either demanded boundless reserves of toleration or an outright reinterpretation of the shifting stakes throughout its duration. I prefer the latter, although the two are not mutually exclusive. 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