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Any Given Sunday: Director's Cut

Any Given Sunday finds director Oliver Stone in modified protest mode, but you can't keep a truly brazen director down — Stone can't help but keep his political skepticism out of his films. With Any Given Sunday, viewers anticipated that Stone would "take on" pro football and "expose" it, and to a certain degree that's true, but at the same time the narrative is somewhat conventional, and Stone doesn't say anything that we don't already know about sports in America. In fact, Any Given Sunday is best viewed as another Wall Street — panoramic, contemporary, but not particularly insightful. On the other hand, Stone is at the fullness of his game (cinematically), and the movie is a great ride, even if the plot is recognizable from other sports films. Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) is the longtime coach of the Miami Sharks. His squad isn't doing too well. His QB is an aging hulk amusingly named Cap Rooney (Dennis Quaid). When Rooney is injured in a game, Tony turns to Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx), a relatively untried loner with an attitude problem. Unexpectedly, Beamen is a success, though he clashes with just about everyone. As the team moves toward the playoffs, D'Amato wants to switch back to a healthy Rooney, while team owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz), scion of the team's deceased founder, wants the attention-getting Beamen to keep playing. In the end, some under-motivated changes of heart are followed by a marvelous end-credit sequence that is one of the most powerful, touching, exuberant, and satisfying passages that Stone has ever committed to film. While not a box-office triumph (budgeted at $60 million, the film made $75 million in the U.S.), Any Given Sunday is a film where Stone is in absolute command of form: the editing, photography, and interweaving of music are all effortless, rich, hyperactive, yet always clear. And the cast is packed, with small turns from such great actors as Stone reg James Woods. Warner's "Director's Cut" DVD edition of Any Given Sunday offers a peerless anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) image with audio in DD 5.1, and features include a 27-minutes "making-of" documentary, an effective trailer, talent files (on Pacino, Diaz, Quaid, James Woods, Foxx, and Stone), and a just-OK LL Cool J video. There is also a host of DVD-ROM extras: chat-room access, website links, a movie review "scoreboard," the film's original promotional website, and sampler trailers. The most significant thing about this disc is that as a special edition Director's Cut the movie contains both deleted and slightly longer scenes. Most noticeable is a self-contained scene at a party in which cocaine is snorted off of a woman while another man is engaged in sex. Later, during a crucial game, a player for an opposing team loses an eye, and there are several shots of the organ on the ground, then placed in a bag for freezing. It's all vulgar stuff and doesn't add anything to the movie, but the footage is educational to see from a film student's viewpoint. Snap-case.
—D.K. Holm

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