Wednesday, March 29, 2023

‘Air’ Review: Ben Affleck Directs an A-List Ensemble in His Latest Film on How Air Jordan Sneakers Were Made and Popularized – SXSW

Did you know that Michael Jordan makes $400 million a year and has passive income because of the percentage he gets from selling Air Jordans? To understand how this happened, we must travel back to the 1980s and the latest film of the famous sneaker label Nike, Ben Affleck Air, Written by Alex Convery, the film stars Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis, Chris Messina, Chris Tucker, Jason Bateman, and Julius Tennon.

Sonny Vaccaro (Damon) loves to gamble – which shows he likes to take risks. He works for Nike CEO Phil Knight (Affleck) in the company’s basketball division Specialist. He seeks out upcoming b-ball plays and offers them shoe advertising deals, and currently has his eye on 18-year-old Michael Jordan. Sonny thinks Jordan is worth the full price they’re offering ($250,000), and so does Vaccaro’s advisor Howard White (Tucker), but Knight and VP of Marketing Robert Strasser (Bateman) think that it is an obligation to do so. He tries to meet Jordan by talking to his agent, David Falk (Messina), but the athlete is more interested in signing with Adidas.

With no plans to give up, Vaquero steps over the chain of command and flies to North Carolina to talk to Jordan’s parents, Delores (Davis) and James (Tenon). With two shoe endorsement meetings with Adidas and Converse coming up, Sonny asks his mother to reconsider talking to Nike, and warns her what to expect when talking to these companies. With Nike CEOs, Falk and Strasser breathing down their necks to close the deal or lose their jobs, Vaccaro cleverly maneuvered to secure the client and stay on the job.

In his fifth feature film, Affleck’s talents exceed expectations. He has evolved as an actor and director but is at his best when doing both. Not sure how he does it. The organization and patience required to balance all those elements must be stressful, but I can’t tell because she never breaks a sweat. In the air, Affleck makes great use of aerial shots that show just how large some of these company campuses are. A staple of his visual style is the desaturated visual which uses a mix of green and blue which fits the tone of his earlier work, but he transforms it here by upping the brightness and hue to create a visual experience One becomes hopeless.

Air Hollywood has the best actors playing some of the greatest actors. Every single one of them gives award-worthy performances, it’s hard to pick which one is a favorite, and it’s such a rarity to have good acting across the board. I’ve seen two of Affleck’s performances at SXSW, and you can just tell when he’s excited about a project, and when he’s calling it quits.

Delores Jordan is responsible for her son’s career today. Despite resistance from Nike, she was able to negotiate a deal where Michael would receive a global percentage from each Air Jordan shoe sold. Her stance was that she knew her son’s worth, and that “a shoe is just a shoe … until my son steps in it.” The goal was to create footwear that reflected his personality and give fans something that would make them feel close to the Chicago Bulls player.

seeing Air, and how the world’s most popular sneaker came into being, makes me think about the evolution of footwear nearly 40 years later. People are stealing, killing and dying for a pair. It’s insane to think about this trajectory that starts innocently and turns customers into rabid consumers. Of course this isn’t Jordan’s problem, but this story puts things into perspective. With so many white men in control of their careers, I’m glad to see some sort of advocacy on screen for athletes like Mike and others like him because this deal with Nike has changed the sneaker and basketball industry in monumental ways.

Times of National
Times of National
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