If you see this movie, make sure you get there early enough that you don't have to sit up front. It feels like a quarter of the movie has someone's face taking up half the screen. Normally I prefer sitting a little close to the screen so that it fills my view. But there are so many super-close-ups that I would even recommend sitting in the back half of the theatre.
At least Oliver Stone has the talent to keep super-close-ups from coming across as melodramatic, the usual pitfall of this technique. That, and he chose actors that have the talent to make use of all that screen.
In addition to the gargantuan actors, the on-field shots are hard to follow from down close to the screen. Their technique was often similar to that used by Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan. Mostly hand-held and high shutter speed yielding little motion blur but quite a lot of grain. And they fill the screen with action. The action sequences were fun to watch.
And a final note on filming technique. Similar to Natural Born Killers, Stone uses a lot of jump cuts and odd camera angles. You'll see the same scene from multiple odd angles, but some of them have short bits cut out of the middle. Almost shakycam, but it doesn't come across quite the same. It's not simply annoying like most shakycam is.
Okay, enough about technique for the moment.
The movie is basically about a football team more than any one or two characters. Pacino plays the experienced coach. Dennis Quaid is the experienced quarterback. Wayons is the young upstart third-string QB who gets his big break when the two QBs above him are injured in one game.
The previews hint that it's a movie about the wild and unpredictable new QB taking over the team from the coach. The first third of the movie pretends to set up a simple rise and fall of young kid who can't handle stardom. I think the movie wanted to be a collection of stories all interconnected by the football team. But it didn't really pull that off. Some of the other side stories included James Woods and Mathew Modine as father and son team trainers. They explore different stages of the seductions that sap the ethics out of a person.
In the previews, I had mistaken Cameron Diaz as Pacino's wife. It turns out she's the team owner. She looks great in this movie, BTW.
In fact, that was another thing I noticed throughout the movie. Many of the female bit parts, like cheerleaders and girlfriends, had really hot women. Far higher percentage of great looking women than you usually see in those small part.
I really wanted to like this movie. There's a lot of good stuff in it. But I think Stone was a bit too ambitious and couldn't fit quite that many stories into one film.
Very good actors carry the movie but can't make it soar. On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Pay Per View.
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