Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: Any Given Sunday

Truth #1: It’s funny how when a woman is breaking your heart she inevitably says, “It’s not you, it’s me.” However, if you ask for a list of reasons of why she doesn’t love you, she can provide it. With zeal and great relish.

Truth #2: Nice guys finish last. This is a common adage that isn’t clear if anyone actually believes or not. I’m not even sure if it is true even if sometimes it sure feels that way. But that isn’t the “Truth” I want to get to in this paragraph. What’s more true is that good deeds rarely feel as though they’ve been properly rewarded. Mainly because, in most cases, you can’t force people to act the way you want them to.

It might be obvious what happened to me recently from the above two truths, but, ya know, that’s life. Also, I believe I promised awhile ago, in an editorial I think (which I don’t do anymore apparently), that Your Fearless Leader wasn’t going to write about himself so much. So, enough about my self-pity, here’s something else I did you can read about:

The other night I attended a youth political rally, of sorts, organized by a group called Refuse & Resist! Personally, they seem a little too focused on popular cause death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal for my tastes. At the rally even, above the performance area was hung a graffiti-style spray-painted poster of Mumia. But R&R! also tries to promote abortion rights, immigrant rights, anti-police brutality, etc., you know all that good radical stuff. If yer a kid, I’d definitely check them out.

I found out about the rally, called Act Your Rage, from one of our junior Rough Neck members. I didn’t really realize R&R! was a kid thing. I mean, I probably should have figured it out from the clues (the title, the source…). Had I known beforehand that I was going to be the oldest person there, would I not have gone? (However, because of my boyishly good looks, I’m sure none of the kids at the event suspected how old I truly am.) I probably would have talked myself out of it somehow. When I walked in and everybody there looked 12 or 13, my first reaction was “Uh-oh, I better turn tail and evacuate.” But, no, I like to keep an open mind, so I decided upon staying, albeit in the back corner if I felt the need to beat a hasty retreat.

However, one skinny Celine Dion-lookin’ chick who I would have sworn was 14 got up to the podium and said that she wrote the poem she was about to perform on the eve of her 18th birthday. So, who knows how old the other kids were. And when I write the word “kids” here, it sounds to me fairly derogatory. I should probably use the more positive word “teenagers”, but I don’t feel like typing “teenagers” when I can just use “kid”. Saves time and space.

Well, Celine read a poem called WOMEN that most everyone seemed to dig. I caught some of it, about the abuses chicks have to endure in their everyday lives, mostly the abuse they inflict on themselves and each other trying to live in a patriarchal world. But mostly I wasn’t paying attention since I was too busy taking notes for this review. What notes did I take about this passionate girl who read this deeply effecting poem? Nothing much except she looked like Celine Dion. We see where my priorities lie. No wonder I have trouble getting professional writing gigs.

One kid gave a really bad reading of a Bill Hicks stand-up comedy routine. But I’m just being a critical old dick. At least he idolizes a decent person. Mostly what happened at this event was kids got up in front of a podium in this tiny church hall and gave spoken-word and rap performances, some rapped acapella, others did their thang accompanied by music. That’s the fun thing about kids. They have a political rally, of course they’re going to bring a dj. Adults should learn from this.

I know I’m old because I can’t follow rap. I can’t follow abstract spoken-word, either, but at least I can get into the melodic flow of words and syllables. Kids are all hyped-up, I guess they understand each other, you know what I’m sayin’?

There was a lot of love in the room. One kid proclaimed this was his first time at an Act Your Rage event, but he “understood the vibe that was going on”. He then asked for a beat from the dj and launched into an extensive rap (like I said I had no idea what the hell he was talking about). However, halfway through his tongue tripped on itself and then he forgot the words to his song. He got real embarrassed, but the crowd simply cheered him on, told him it was alright. Somehow he picked up the last couple of phrases and it ended. Then, he did another song and the same exact thing happened. I hope he didn’t get too discouraged. I hope he goes home, practices and goes to the next R&R! event. It was a very supportive environment.

It made feel like I wish there was stuff like this when I was fifteen. It may have taken some prodding to get me to go, mainly because I was a total asswipe as a teenager, but I think I would have dug something like this. Maybe I wouldn’t have wasted all my time reading comic books and watching movies.

Who knows? One of these kids might grow up to be the next Oliver Stone. Well, what is Oliver Stone these days, really? He’s no Michael Moore. Stone is like a phony, wanna-be activist, whereas Moore gets in the dirt to expose the worms.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY isn’t some scathing exposé of pro football. Lots of it is extremely entertaining. I could give a rat’s ass about football in real life, but the games in this movie had me very involved emotionally and, not literally, but fairly on the edge of my seat. The movie deals a little bit about the corruption of the sport and about how it’s all about the Benjamins these days. There are also some kinda sad DEATH OF A SALESMAN-ish lessons to be learned. And there’s the hotheaded star of the team who has to earn everybody’s respect. So, in many regards, it’s a pretty, standard cheezy movie.

But it fit Stone’s style for some reason. Pro football seemed like a bizarre choice for Stone to make a film about. I’m assuming he wanted another mainstream hit since his last couple films have been on the inaccessible side. I’d still like him to make a film version of DARK ALLIANCE, the controversial book by Gary Webb about the CIA/Contra/cocaine/crack connection in the ’80s. Guess that’s not going to be bloody likely, tho’. But until and if that does ever happen, in the meantime ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is entertaining enough, you know what I’m sayin’.