I'm a little late to the party, but sometimes things happen and you can't always get somewhere on time. That's vaguely referring to my ability to see Air in theaters but better late than never I suppose. Right? Well now that Air is streaming I can enjoy the film on my own time and not worry about being seven minutes late to anything to try and look more important.
If you've seen the movie that should make sense, if not well then I look rather ridiculous.
The latest Ben Affleck directed film, Air, has been simultaneously heralded as a phenomenal piece of craft while also being almost two hours of Nike marketing. While I can see the merit of the latter point, the former, in my opinion, is positively overwhelming.
I loved what Affleck was able to do with this film!
Air is the story of Nike, back when Nike sucked, in their pursuit of signing a rookie Michael Jordan to a signature shoe deal. Facing insurmountable odds consisting of, but not limited to, a dwindling basketball division, third place market share behind Adidas and Converse, and well, Michael Jordan saying he would never ever sign with Nike. A real underdog story huh?
A delightful combination of Affleck's crisp direction and the acting results in an extremely entertaining viewing experience. Clocking in at a casual hour and 52 minutes the film actually feels much shorter due to its ideal pacing, and wonderful craftsmanship.
Supporting actors Chris Messina, Jason Bateman, and Affleck himself round out a trio of wild 80's corporate masculinity where everyone yells about chopping each other's balls off in the name of the deal. Their chemistry is undeniable and I'm particularly fond of Bateman's display as Rob Strasser. A carefully articulated character overflowing with emotional attachment to his job, beautifully told through an anecdote about his daughter, culminating in one small poetically quotidian smile at the final pitch to Jordan. It's subtle yet incredibly effective to me and really brought the on-screen product to another level.
Outside of these three, of course I loved Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro who brought more vulnerability in the face of corporate drubbings. But it was Viola Davis as Deloris Jordan who stole the screen in her limited share of it. Her human approach, meticulous and calm, is brimming with focus, sucking you into the scene at every which opportunity. It may be a bit of a biased choice because I love just about every Viola Davis performance but I thoroughly enjoyed what she brought to the table for Air.
Eleven years ago, the Affleck directed Argo took home the Best Picture Oscar, and even stacked up seven total nominations. What was strange about this whole debacle was the omission of Affleck from the Best Director category. It's true that Affleck's direction hasn't necessarily been top tier but to be missed for such a slam dunk film throughout a variety of categories, seemed like a huge whiff for the Academy. Affleck has even mentioned that it's wild that the one thing the Academy didn't like about the movie was his direction, which I agree is strange. By the way, any background commentary by Affleck on any of his films is a whole new entertaining morsel of a movie itself. His Armageddon DVD commentary is probably the greatest gift to mankind by the way, seek it out.
Anyways, Air really is a testament to Affleck's directing abilities and plays extremely well into his style. The transportation back into the 80's, feeling like Nike was just some crappy running shoe company are elements of film setting that don't work effectively without strong direction. One of the strongest affirmations of Affleck's creative direction is the choice to actually not show Michael Jordan once in the entirety of the film. While it might seem odd to not show Jordan in a movie about Jordan, it actually makes perfect sense. Because the movie is not about Michael Jordan, but the creation of one of the most famous shoes in world history. This decision shifts the focus from Michael Jordan onto the relationship of Vaccaro and Deloris Jordan as they discuss the possibility of signing with Nike. Affleck knows that since Michael is such a colossal figure in the world, showing him on screen would distract audiences, since they are too aware of the fact that no actor is actually going to remind them of what and who Michael is. Affleck's actually said something very close if not exactly this in interviews explaining this choice and I think it was a risky choice, but one that paid off handsomely.
In a movie about taking risks, it seems apropos for Affleck to take a huge swing, while both Nike and Air benefit from the choice.
Unfortunately, it was recently Seattle Beer Week and I, like the fool that I am, was out of town. Much like everyone that misses when the SNKRS app says there's a new hot Nike shoe that gets botted out of existence, I mourned over my missed opportunity.
Luckily, the wonderful people at Stoup Brewing kept their new Seattle Beer Week beer on tap just for me! Technically not only for me but I can pretend. Somedays you gotta carpe that diem just like Sonny Vaccaro, Rob Strasser, and Phil Knight and when life gives you special release new beers, you take a goddamn drink. Stoup's Seattle Beer Week Hoppy Pale is the official beer of Seattle Beer Week 14, being the poster child of excellent craft beer and a celebration of Seattle brewers. This pale ale is a wonderful mixture of mango and citrus flavors and aromas, while bringing in a modest level of bitterness and ABV. Coming in at a cool 5.2% ABV this beer was specifically designed to not annihilate the patrons of Seattle Beer week and allow everyone to indulge in the variety of delicious elixirs for a long duration. I welcomed this delightful choice as the beer was not only tasty, light and refreshing, but incredible drinkable. It has a nice flavorful punch without the bite of some other Pales out there, resulting in a rounded drinking experience, perfect for a hot day or a quick refresher inside.