LIGHTS, CAM­ERA, AC­TION

MICHAEL RENOUF GIVES US HIS TAKE ON THE MOVIES THAT HAVE HIT THE TAR­GET

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The top ten foot­ball films

10. MIKE BAS­SETT: ENG­LAND MAN­AGER

No­body wants the Eng­land man­ager’s job un­til we get down to Nor­wich City man­ager Mike Bas­sett (Ricky Tom­lin­son) who has re­cently won the Mr Clutch Cup for the Ca­naries. In this com­edy we get to see many par­o­dies of Eng­land play­ers such as Gazza, Gary Lineker and David Beckham. We also get to re­live many Eng­land mo­ments from the World Cup such as Maradona’s two goals against Eng­land at the Mexico fi­nals in 1986, al­beit this time for the Three Lions in­stead of against. Tom­lin­son is in great form and by far the star of the film and his half-time rant when we are play­ing Mexico is price­less, his char­ac­ter be­ing a com­bi­na­tion of Gra­ham Tay­lor and the great Sir Bobby Rob­son. The best line of the film is de­liv­ered by Mike’s wife Karine (Amanda Red­man): “Last night Mike had a dream that Bobby Moore was chas­ing him round Wem­b­ley Sta­dium shout­ing ‘Look what you’ve done you bloody id­iot’.”

9. MEAN MA­CHINE

A 2001 re­make of the 1974 ver­sion which switches from Amer­i­can Foot­ball to, ahem, proper foot­ball stars Vin­nie Jones (who else?) in the Burt Reynolds role as dis­graced former Eng­land soc­cer cap­tain Danny “Mean Ma­chine” Mee­han. Danny’s down­fall has led to him be­ing kept at her majesty’s plea­sure where the cor­rupt gover­nor (David Hemmings) wants him to take over coach­ing the prison guard team but, be­cause of op­po­si­tion from other quar­ters within the prison walls, Danny feels he can­not take up this “kind” of­fer. This leads to a game be­tween the in­mates and guards and, al­though I pre­ferred the char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment in the orig­i­nal, the film comes to life dur­ing the foot­ball scenes which makes for a highly en­ter­tain­ing last 30 min­utes. You will recog­nise lots of fa­mil­iar faces from Bri­tish cin­ema in­clud­ing many of Mr. Jones’s co­horts from Lock, Stock.

8. ES­CAPE TO VIC­TORY

Where else can you find Booby Moore, Pele, Ossie Ardiles, Michael Caine and Sylvester Stal­lone to­gether? This 1981 re­lease has a spe­cial place in my heart as I re­mem­ber go­ing to the cin­ema to see this as a teenager in an era that was bereft of foot­ball films (in fact the only other footie film I can re­call from the time is Gre­gory’s Girl). The two Hol­ly­wood heavy­weights put in strong per­for­mances, Caine as ex­foot­baller and Bri­tish Army Cap­tain John Colby and Stal­lone as Amer­i­can Army Cap­tain Robert Hatch. Colby and Ma­jor Karl Von Steiner (Max von Sy­dow) both be­ing ex-pros agree on a friendly match be­tween the guards and the Al­lied POWs but the game gets hi­jacked from Colby and prob­a­bly the nicest Ger­man of­fi­cer I have seen por­trayed on the sil­ver screen. The game is moved to Paris and the Ger­man na­tional team is drafted in as op­po­nents, but this gives Colby and Co the chance to es­cape. The game it­self is a lit­tle too far-fetched but this film brings back fond mem­o­ries ev­ery time it is re­run.

7. GREEN STREET

This film cen­tres on the darker side of the beau­ti­ful game that plagued foot­ball in the UK dur­ing the 70s and 80s but is thank­fully far less com­mon on Bri­tish shores to­day. Matt Buck­ner (Eli­jah Wood) is wrong­fully ex­pelled from Har­vard Univer­sity and is too timid to stand up for him­self in any mean­ing­ful man­ner. So, he de­cides to travel to Lon­don to stay with his sis­ter and her Bri­tish hus­band. Through them, he gets in­tro­duced to Pete (Char­lie Hun­nam) who at first is not keen on hav­ing to babysit a ‘Yank’ but over time they de­velop an un­likely friend­ship and Matt dis­cov­ers that foot­ball for Pete is not only about what hap­pens on the pitch, but what re­ally gets his juices flow­ing is the con­fronta­tions on the cob­bles. Pete is the leader of the GSE, the West Ham hooli­gan firm who have a mas­sive ri­valry with the Mill­wall film led by Tommy Hatcher (Ge­off Bell). The Bri­tish ac­tor puts in an ex­cel­lent per­for­mance por­tray­ing the psy­chotic right hard b****** role he has made his own over the years. This is the most en­joy­able of the “hooli­gan” films and my only crit­i­cisms are Hun­nam’s (who would later go on to star in the ex­cel­lent Sons of An­ar­chy - a se­ries about a dif­fer­ent type of gang) strange ac­cent and the fi­nal fight scene seems overly bru­tal.

6. SUM­MER OF ’92

Som­meren ‘92 as it was re­leased in its na­tive Den­mark is the first of two sub­ti­tled films on my list and is the in­cred­i­ble true un­der­dog story of the Dan­ish team at the 1992 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship staged in Swe­den. The Danes had failed to qual­ify but be­cause of po­lit­i­cal sanc­tions, Yu­goslavia, who had topped the group that con­tained the Norse­men, were not al­lowed to com­pete, leav­ing the stars of our story to step in and re­place them at the last minute, with lit­tle or no prepa­ra­tion. In the last fi­nals that only con­tained eight teams, if you could fin­ish in the top two in your group you were into the semis but that seemed a tall or­der for a team with­out their best player Michael Lau­drup due to con­flict with coach Richard Moller Nielsen (Ul­rich Thom­sen). After a soli­tary point and no goals from their first two matches, the game ap­peared up for Pe­ter Sch­me­ichel and his team­mates. But as always in sport and life, you should never give up and see where this leads you. Di­rec­tor Kasper Bar­foed clev­erly weaves real game footage into the story to bring the mem­o­ries flood­ing back for those of us lucky enough to re­call this re­al­life fairy story that Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen him­self would have been proud to have penned.

5. GRIMSBY

This is my top-rated foot­ball com­edy, writ­ten by and star­ring Sacha Baron Co­hen as Nobby who has lost con­tact with his lit­tle brother Seb (Mark Strong) 28 long years ago. Nobby has never given up hope of be­ing re­united but when they are, against the back­drop of the 2016 (or 20016!) World Cup that is be­ing played in Chile, he dis­cov­ers his brother is a top un­der­cover agent and thanks to Nobby they end up on the run to­gether be­ing chased by Seb’s em­ploy­ers. In typ­i­cal Sacha Baron Co­hen style, amongst other things Harry Pot­ter gets AIDS and we get to wit­ness an ele­phant vagina scene that will both haunt and en­ter­tain you at the same time. I will also never see ther­a­pists in the same light again. Pene­lope Cruz, Rebel Wil­son, Isla Fisher and Ricky Tom­lin­son make ap­pear­ances, some briefer than oth­ers. Best line of the film? When Seb needs to move coun­tries un­de­tected, he asks to be rein­tro­duced to Nobby’s mate Milky Pimms (Johnny Ve­gas) who works on Grimsby’s docks. “I need to talk to your friend Milky, the fish travel agent.”

4. UNITED

United is based on the true story of the tragic 1958 Mu­nich Air Dis­as­ter which claimed the lives of 23 poor souls, in­clud­ing eight mem­bers of the ir­re­press­ible Busby Babes. The film strikes just the right tone of som­bre and re­spect for a tragedy that could have de­stroyed the club but in­stead shaped its fu­ture and des­tiny. This is why, for all Manch­ester United fans such as my­self, the Euro­pean Cup/Cham­pi­ons League will always have a spe­cial place in our hearts. Both Dougray Scott as leg­endary Red Devils man­ager Matt Busby and David Ten­nant as his as­sis­tant Jimmy Mur­phy put in fine per­for­mances in a film fans of any club will find mov­ing. It just scrapes into the Cham­pi­ons League places in fourth on my list. One can only won­der what this group of ex­tremely tal­ented young men could have achieved in the red shirts of Manch­ester and could Eng­land have ruled the world be­fore ‘66?

3. PELE: BIRTH OF A LEG­END

The story of Ed­son Arantes do Nasci­mento, known to the world as Pele and re­garded by many as the best to ever play the beau­ti­ful game, from a lit­tle boy to play­ing for Brazil in the 1958 World Cup in Swe­den. Pele would go on to have a glit­ter­ing ca­reer and al­though we only get to see a frac­tion of this, we still get a real feel for the spirit of the man. A pos­i­tive and up­lift­ing film that re­ally brings ‘Ginga’ to life al­though a few of the scenes feel like Walt Dis­ney him­self had dreamt them up. It was sup­posed to be re­leased in 2014 in con­junc­tion with the World Cup in Brazil but sur­prise, sur­prise, some­thing was not ready on time in Latin Amer­ica.

2. THE DAMNED UNITED

The true story of Brian Clough’s con­tro­ver­sial 44-day reign as Leeds United manger in the 1970s. Two of Bri­tish cin­ema’s finest ac­tors working to­day por­tray what was prob­a­bly the great­est man­age­rial dou­ble act in Bri­tish foot­ball his­tory, Michael Sheen as Cloughie him­self and Ti­mothy Spall as his num­ber two - Pe­ter Tay­lor. The film flashes back and forth be­tween Brian Howard Clough’s time at Leeds and his ear­lier ca­reer and gives us a real feel for the man in a film that goes be­yond foot­ball and be­comes a char­ac­ter study of the great­est man­ager Eng­land never had. We also get able sup­port from Jim Broad­bent as long-suf­fer­ing Derby chair­man Sam Long­son and Colm Meaney as Cloughie’s neme­sis Don Re­vie. A very good film and un­lucky to only be run­ner-up in my count­down of best foot­ball movies.

1. A BARE­FOOT DREAM

This lit­tle known Korean film stole my heart and the num­ber one slot on the list in dra­matic last-gasp fash­ion. I stum­bled across this film and watched it whilst re­search­ing this piece and was blown away by this in­spir­ing true story of re­tired Korean foot­baller Kim Won-kang (Hee-soon Park) who de­cides to re­lo­cate to East Ti­mor not long after the bru­tal In­done­sian oc­cu­pa­tion has fi­nally come to an end. Our hero has gone purely to make money and is a bit of an Asian Del Boy. How­ever, in a coun­try that has been rav­aged by war for much of its re­cent his­tory, money is hard to come by and Kim meets a bunch of kids who change his life ev­ery bit as much as he changes theirs. I chal­lenge the biggest, hard­est most bru­tal 1970s cen­tre-half not to shed a tear at least once dur­ing the two-hour run­time. Def­i­nitely one can you can watch with the mis­sus and within ten min­utes you will for­get you are watch­ing a sub­ti­tled film.

Michael Renouf is the movie critic for The Playa Times, the English lan­guage paper based on the Mex­i­can Caribbean coast

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