revisiting the 9s/film fatales: portrait of a lady on fire (céline sciamma, 2019)
investigation of a citizen above suspicion (elio petri, 1970)

geezer cinema: air (ben affleck, 2023)

This is the fourth Ben Affleck-directed movie I have seen (the others being Gone Baby GoneThe Town, Argo), and there isn't a dud among them. They aren't great movies ... well, Argo won a Best Picture Oscar ... but they are always solid. Some of the things I've said about those earlier films: "The movie isn't earthshattering, but it does its work well." (Gone Baby Gone). "He isn’t delivering masterpieces yet, but his movies as director are thus far reliably high-quality." (Argo). And there are comments ... one person said of Argo, "Really good, not great, film", and my son said Air was "good for those kind of movies". There is something to be said for a reliable director, and at this point, I think Ben Affleck qualifies.

Air suffers from one insoluble problem: Michael Jordan is the center of the movie, but he's not there. Affleck has said, "Michael Jordan is so famous that I truly felt if we ever saw an actor playing it would be hard to get the audience to suspend their disbelief, because, in my opinion, there's no convincing anybody that someone who isn't Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan." So we see Jordan from the back a few times, he barely talks, a few times we see real-life footage that reminds us that Michael Jordan was a transcendent basketball player. But he's pushed to the outskirts of his own story. The solution is decent: Air becomes a movie about Nike, about making a shoe. And that's an interesting story, good enough for a two-hour movie. But Nike isn't as interesting as Michael Jordan.

Also, while I'm not overly fond of biopics, a biopic about Michael Jordan could be fun. But Air is a biopic about a guy named Sonny Vaccaro.

It all plays out quite well, in any event. Affleck has a fine ear for the kinds of music people were listening to in 1984. (This led to an odd situation, though ... the film is already available on Prime Video, but we went to the theater for the "experience", only to endure lots of booming sound from the Dolby Cinema elsewhere in the multi-plex.) The movie is well-cast (Jordan himself apparently insisted that Viola Davis play his mother ... nice call, Mike!) Matt Damon delivers yet another fine example of is-he-acting ... Damon can disappear into a role without making a big deal of it. And it's nice to see Chris Tucker return to the screen. You won't be sorry if you see Air ... it's better than a time-waster. Ben Affleck does it again.

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