Saturday, 21 September 2013

Football On The Big Screen



The Damned United
  It charts legendary Brian Clough's tumultuous tenure managing Leeds United.  Following success with Derby County, Clough arrives at a Leed's United formerly coached and fiercely loyal to previous manager Don Revie.  Revie's style was certainly not for Clough and the Leeds team had a number of dirty and bad habits despite being successful.  

Clough attempts to revolutionise but struggles with the characters in the team who dislike their new manager's ideas.  It is very funny in places, the film.  Iy also gets across well the dislike Clough and Revie have for one another, included in the film is footage from that famous interview between Revie and Clough.  Clough and his ahead of the times ways come across well, as does his reliance and relationship with his assistant Peter Taylor.

  There are some factual inaccuracies and embellishment in the film.  I didn't know any of the details around that Leeds side, apart from them being dirty.  Not much of a stickler for those things personally so it did not affect viewing in any way.   Also, it is a film, not a documentary.  The highlight of the film is the fantastic cast including Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Stephen Graham.  It also starred Jim Broadbent, brilliant character actor- so adaptable.  A superb film and Michael Sheen excelled in his portrayal of Clough.   


One Night In Turin

A film/documentary that is set at the infamous World Cup, Italia 90.  It has been well documented and read about, various events in and around England's participation in that tournament.  A-few of the Paul Gascoigne moments have lived on in various comedy sketches throughout the years.  It is a great watch this, well put together and jam packed full of footage from matches, fans and press meetings by the then England manager- Sir Bobby Robson.  A-lot of the footage is never before seen.  It is an all-access look back.

  Gary Oldman narrates the film.  It gets across well the mood of the country and attitude of the government towards other sides of the game when hooliganism is rampant.  The film isn't just with the team but fans too, the mood in Britain and Italy.  This included the security fears and provision in Italy and the effect this had on the travelling support who came with a reputation but were subsequently treated like animals. 

Above all, it captured what it meant for England to get so close to the final.  Not just football on the field, it was a glimpse into what life was like then in Britain, football hooliganism was at its height, the government (who had a dim view of the game) and also the media's role in and around the England NT.  The most surprising aspect was the behaviour of the English media who did nothing to get behind the team, quite the opposite.  Regularly tore both the team and the manager apart, calling for Robson's sacking- it was madness.


Fever Pitch



A big fan of the book and author, Nick Hornby.  It has been a-few years since I watched the film adaptation. It was made in 1997 and must not be confused with the American version released more recently.  Colin Firth makes a very convincing lead.  Had I watched this at an older age when I was more aware of him as an actor; I think I'd have been highly sceptical of him pulling off being a football fan.  He is an Arsenal one so there is a little lee-way for sure!

  Fever Pitch is Hornby's autobiographical novel about the biggest thing in his life- Arsenal football club.  He grew up watching and following the team religiously and in the book reflects on how his following of the game changes with age and time.  In the book, he grows up, recounts memories of his life and reveals what it was like growing up in England in the 70's and 80's- most importantly being an Arsenal fan.   The film is set in his adult life, he works as an English teacher and is the type of teacher you'd want.  He plays an active part as coach of the school's football team too.  There are flashbacks to his childhood/teen years and memorable times.  Some watching it now could find it a bit dated. But feel that helps the film to feel/look more authentic.  Dialogue is one of its strongest assets, as are the characters who are believable.  It also has a comedic edge that runs right through the film. 


  

Looking For Eric

The enigmatic Eric Cantona stars in this Ken Loach directed film.  It is a typically British film, gritty in places.  It fully captures the obsessional quality of football and the relationship fans have with the game and in this case a particular and very special player in Eric Cantona.  The French maestro with his maverick ways, football, spirit and attitude will forever hold hero status with United fans.

  He was the final piece in the puzzle that set the wheels in motion for Manchester United to become successful once again.  Eric Bishop, the lead in this film is played by Steve Evets.  He is no different to other United fans in his love for Cantona.  Bishop is on a low ebb, his life and family are troubled and his depression spiralling out of control.  

It is a very real film, authentic and is filmed on location in Manchester.  On the film, Loach comments that he wished to get across the need and importance of others in your life.  Bishop did not overcome his and his families ever worsening problems alone.  Cantona appeared as a figment of his imagination to guide him through his troubles, get fit and happy once again. Though the film stars an ex-Manchester United legend, it will still appeal and be easy to relate to by football fans as a whole. 



Pelada


Just brilliant, absolutely loved this. Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham go on an incredible adventure around the world. They travel to participate in pickup matches and see how football varies from country to country.  Always with a ball under the arm, the two find themselves playing in all sorts of environments, meeting people with fascinating stories along the way.

The couple are big football enthusiasts who made an impact at College level.  They were unfortunate to miss out on playing professionally.  Oxenham was a victim of poor timing as the Women's League stopped operating for a period, only to be re-launched a number of years later.  They travel to 25 countries and see how barriers such as religion, gender and poverty contribute.  From encountering religious divides in Jerusalem to playing in a Bolivian prison run by the inmates.  As well as being about football it is about the people they meet.  Such as Chinese freestylers wanting to spread and demonstrate their love for football on the streets.  To an up and coming Brazillian girl nicknamed Ronaldinha with big dreams.   A social game. that brings people together and one that is universally loved, it is easy when watching this film to see why.  It is above all a film about playing the game.  Boughen and Oxenham both come across very well and are hugely likeable.  The documentary is well put together and great viewing.