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While I am not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination, I was enthralled by ANY GIVEN SUNDAY ($25), director Oliver Stone's view of the modern day gladiatorial sport. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is an ensemble piece that tells a multi-layered story, which is set around a fictitious professional football team known as the Miami Sharks. Al Pacino portrays Tony D'Amato, the teamís coach who hails from the old school and finds himself butting heads with Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), the teamís young owner, who wants to bring the franchise 21st century. During a losing streak, the Sharksí star quarterback Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid) is seriously injured, which thrusts the teamís untried third string quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) into the spotlight. Willie sees success on the field of scrimmage, which immediately goes to his head, causing conflicts with both Coach DíAmato and the rest of the team. Sure, some aspects of the plot are pure soap opera, but Oliver Stoneís stylish storytelling keeps one riveted to their seat for the filmís entire 157 minute running time. Heck, if televised football were one tenth as engrossing as what Oliver Stone has staged in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY with a first person perspective, Iíd be watching the game every week.

In addition to the filmís technical brilliance, every role in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is played to perfection. Pacino is great as the driven football coach, yet he never takes the role over-the-top (something he seems to have been doing ever since SCENT OF A WOMAN). Cameron Diaz shows that she has the acting chops to handle a role some meat on it. I was very impressed with Jamie Foxx, who shows with this film, that he can do a whole lot more than just make people laugh. The cast of ANY GIVEN SUNDAY also features James Woods, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine, Charlton Heston, Ann-Margret, Aaron Eckhart, John C. McGinley, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Bill Bellamy, Andrew Bryniarski, Lela Rochon, Lauren Holly, Elizabeth Berkley and James Karen.

Warner Home Videoís DVD release of ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is a solid disc that features absolutely first-rate video and audio, plus an additional six minutes of footage not seen in theaters. ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is presented in its proper 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and this incredible looking presentation is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The image on this DVD is pretty much reference quality, with everything appearing sharp, well defined and hyper-realistic. Flesh tones are very appealing, which perfectly complements the rest of the vibrant colors. Warmer hues are especially well rendered, although the lush greens of the turf do appear very realistic. There are no traces of chromatic distortion or bleeding in this excellent presentation. Blacks are solid and very deep, plus the picture possesses superb depth and shadow detail. Digital compression artifacts do not make their presence known on this finely authored dual layer DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is every bit the equal of the DVDís impressive visuals. This soundtrack is both aggressive and completely enveloping. Like a player on the field, the sonic assaults hit the viewer from all sides during the game sequences- very effective and very involving. There is excellent channel separation across the forward soundstage, plus split surround effects are plentiful, yet they never seem excessive or artificial. Dialogue reproduction is crisp, precise and never buried under the wall of sound that sometimes makes up the filmís sonic environment. Bass reproduction is deep and powerful; lending a lot of weight to pounding that the players take on their field. Subtitles have been encoded onto the DVD in English and French.

Animation, sound and full motion video have been added to the DVDís enhanced interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and setup feature, plus a few supplements. Topping the list is the thirty-minute HBO Fist Look documentary Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday. Part promotion piece, part look behind-the-scenes, the documentary includes short interviews with all the principals. Also included on the DVD is the LL Cool J music video Shut Em Down, a theatrical trailer, plus cast and director biographies/filmographies.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is a powerful piece of filmmaking about a sport that is an obsession with millions of Americans. If you are a fan of football or director Oliver Stone, you canít go wrong with this marvelous looking and sounding DVD. Highly recommended.


Any Given Sunday (1999)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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