AIR – Review by Nell Minow

2023 will be remembered as the year of the movies that are consumer product origin stories. We’re used to seeing heroic stories of military figures, musicians, political leaders and activists, and, because movies are written by writers — writers. But in 2023 we had a remarkable number of movies with heroes or anti-heroes who were, well, capitalists. We saw the origin stories of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Blackberrys, Beanie Babies, and the proto-computer game Tetris, By far the best of the group, though, was the story of a sneaker, a shoe that would become so popular it would have, well, a massive cultural footprint.

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CHASING CHASING AMY (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Beth Accomando

Twelve-year-old Sav Rodgers watched Kevin Smith’s 1997 film Chasing Amy and fell in love with it. The experience became the topic of a TED Talk in which Rodgers recalled being gay-bashed: “See, it sucks when everyone else knows you’re queer before you do. Because then you don’t have anything to protect yourself with.” But Rodgers found comfort in Smith’s film, which had an appealing pop culture backdrop and served up an unconventional romance in which a heterosexual man is rejected by a lesbian. This documentary is about Rodgers’ obsession with something that changed his life, an analysis of the film, an exploration of why many in the LGBTQ+ community do not like it, Rodgers’ own coming to terms with his queerness, a general consideration of what makes for good representation, and ultimately a coming-of-age story for Rodgers as a transgender filmmaker.

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AIR – Review by Susan Granger

Air recounts how Sonny Vaccaro convinced the then-rookie Michael Jordan to sign a unique endorsement deal that changed the retail sports-apparel industry. Insightfully scripted by newcomer Alex Convery and astutely directed by Ben Affleck (Argo), it’s really a sports fable, centered on the 1984 corporate culture at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Back then, Nike was known for its running shoes which had zero impact on fashion. This underdog story begins as Nike’s basketball scout Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) searches for the next player to promote the footwear brand.

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AIR – Review by T.J. Callahan

Air: A shoe is just a shoe until someone steps into it. It was 1984. Americans were doing the Jane Fonda workout. Prince Charles and Lady Diana became parents to a future king, Mr. T pitied the fools, Clara Peller asked “Where’s the Beef?” and Converse ruled the athletic shoe world. A little ol sneaker company in Oregon was out to change that.

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AIR – Review by Susan Kamyab

I am so happy to say that this movie is not only a slam dunk, but it’s one of the best films of the year so far. I know it’s early to say that, but this particular A-list film is going to stick with audiences all year long. Directed by Ben Affleck, the film is about a sports marketing executive, played by Matt Damon, and how he led Nike in its pursuit of the greatest athlete in the history of basketball: Michael Jordan.

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DEEP WATER – Review by Susan Granger

Director Adrian Lyne built his reputation on kinky, erotic thrillers like 9 ½ Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and Unfaithful, so it’s not surprising that he capitalized on the off-camera romance between Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas to take advantage of their sexual chemistry in this sizzler. Problem is: as a psychosexual whodunit, the perverse plot makes no sense whatever.

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THE TENDER BAR – Review by Susan Granger

Directed by George Clooney, this gentle, coming-of-age story revolves around J.R. (played as a child by Daniel Ranieri, then by Tye Sheridan), growing up in Manhasset, Long Island, during the late 1970s/early 1980s with his single mother Dorothy (Lily Rabe), cantankerous grandfather (Christopher Lloyd) and affable Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck), who proudly drives a stunning blue-green Cadillac convertible.

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THE TENDER BAR – Review by Diane Carson

Director George Clooney has a refined touch, by which I mean that without understatement and restraint The Tender Bar could have easily tipped over into sentimental mush, which it doesn’t. Instead, it presents a snapshot of 1970s and 80s working class individuals inhabiting Manhasset, Long Island and New Haven, and the communities they share. Based on J.R. Moehringer’s 2005 memoir of that title, the story focuses on J.R. at two decisive stages of life: as an impressionable boy and a student at Yale.

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