The Beautiful Game


So what’s with the title then? Sure sounds like the title of a movie.  Are ya racking your brain trying to figure out what  this is? Of course, you savvy folks out there know the beautiful game is Football. Not soccer, people… football. Proper football.

Football. Made in England, perfected everywhere else. Thankfully, you can see the Beautiful Game every week in the form of  The Barclay’s Premiere League. Where the national team struggle to find form, the  league  is known for being the best in the world. The fans  live it and breathe it. Here, you grow up with the colour of your team in your veins.  Through good and bad times, you support your team to the end.  A breed apart.

Eons ago, I took part in a football game. It was lads v gals.  Everything was going well until the heaven’s opened and it chucked it down. The pitch began to deteriorate into something like chocolate pudding and it wasn’t long before the game started to deteriorate as well. The gals were denied a clear goal by the ball stopping in the mud just before it crossed over the goal line. It was only natural then, that my friend picked it up and threw it in. This signaled a free for all which resembled Rugby more than Football. By the time I got home, part of the winning team I might add, I was unrecognisable and looked like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards in a mud slide. No matter if you’re playing it or just watching it, it’s all about the passion. And we are nothing if not passionate about our game.

On Saturday, my team, Manchester City, take part in the oldest and best domestic Cup competition in the world, the FA Cup. Formed in 1871 from a proposal by the Football Association honorable Secretary Charles Alcock,  “..it is desirable that a Challenge Cup be established for which all clubs belonging to the FA should be invited to compete..”  The stage was set for the David’s of the lower leagues to face the Goliath’s of world class teams… and there have been magical moments in history, when Goliath has indeed fallen.

So now my team takes part in the Cup Final that hopefully see’s them lifting the most venerated Cup in Football history,  and in honor of this, here are two flicks I think are worthy of your time. One is a British movie and the other is a documentary.

The Damned United

Starring Michael Sheen as the famed Nigel Clough, it’s a gritty telling of his short tenure as Leeds United Football Club manager.  Great drama, well told and one of the best British films of  2009.

Kicking It

A  documentary that  follows a group of homeless men to South Africa, to participate in their own international World Cup competition. Narrated  by ColinFarrell.

You can check out this great outreach organisation’s website for more information here.  The Homeless World Cup

  COME ON YOU BLUES !!!!!!!!!!!

Update! …MAJOR Update!   

Manchester City went on to win the FA Cup and they didn’t  stop there.  They smelled success and liked it and went on to win the English Premiere League. Pipping  the mighty Manchester United to the title with the last kick of the game, they go down in football history as providing the most exciting finale  the league is ever likely to see again. Are you listening Hollywood?

 

Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)


Sidney Lumet died today at the age of 87. A  well-respected, talented and prolific director, he happened to direct two of my favourite movies. One of which is highly regarded by critics as a classic. I would encourage you to see them both.

12 Angry Men (1957) 

A strong cast headed by Henry Fonda. One juror is the only hold out  in a Jury room of men that have already made up their minds of a guilty verdict. As the deliberation goes on, it’s not only the evidence that is unraveled as tempers flare and characters clash.  A gripping, tense drama,  it’s set mostly in one room, and Sydney works the claustrophobia to the advantage as he gets the best from his cast. Dynamite movie.

 

Running On Empty (1988) 

A married couple  are on the lam from the FBI after bombing a napalm plant in their youth. Any sense their false identity is compromised, they up sticks, change names… and start all over again. But after so many years, and now parents, how many more times will their son want on stay on the run with them?

I was shattered after seeing this movie for the first time.  Totally heart wrenching. Beautiful direction from Sydney who gets the absolute best work from Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsh and River Phoenix. A must see.

R.I.P. Sydney.

Picky About Paul


Well, I’m doing it again. I’m commenting on a movie I have not seen and have decided I am not going to.

Hello Jason Isaacs

I love to catch up on podcasts when I go walking  in the mornings. None more so, than the good doctor himself,  Mark Kermode, movie critique extraordinaire. I agree with  his reviews most of the time, I mean, his favourite movie  Local Hero, is one of mine too.  Together with radio veteran extraordinaire, Simon Mayo, they make a fun pair to listen to. I would encourage you to check out their Wittertainment. You will find the link on this site. Go, listen. Find out why people from all over the world are tuning in and why they say hello to Jason Isaacs every week!

An Alien Called….Paul ?

Right, plug for the show over. I was catching up with the witterers podcast the other day and their guests were Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the brains behind off beat cult comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. They are now the brains behind a new movie called Paul.  Paul is the duo’s foray into mainstream cinema. Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) are a couple of British nerds who, after attending Comic-Con in California, decide to head into the land of  extraterrestrial legend. They come across… an extraterrestrial ..named Paul. I have no idea why or how Paul talks perfect stoner english… maybe he saw Pineapple Express. I do, however,  know why Pegg and Frost decided on the name Paul.

It appears their particular brand of humor has remained intact, but going mainstream has its drawbacks. While crude, lewd and foul language  have remained, Pegg and Frost decided to chuck out a thread in the movie that Universal thought would not have  “settled” well with the American audience. Agreeing the thread wasn’t really “pushing the story along” anyway, Pegg and Frost decided to abandon it. The thread? Creation v evolution.

The Picky Part

Ground work done, back to the podcast.  You can hear the full interview here.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/kermode#playepisode7  

This is a Cliff Note version of what they said in the interview.

(Pegg)  The theological element, between creation and evolution was better developed in the original script, or rather we dwelt on it a little longer. There were long moments of just talking, we liked the idea of an alien waxing philosophically about religion with a creationist girl and, em, it was slightly more edgy….. She changes her mind (about her religion) when confronted with the alien. What we were interested in, was that someones very rigid belief could be shattered in a single moment.  Any film that has aliens in it negates that extreme Christian faith in which God created in a certain amount of days… We just kind of talk about it a little now (in the movie).  We just loved the idea of a girl being born again and that the idea of Paul’s existence validates Graemes and  Clives  belief system and negates Ruth’s which is in this very rigid, Chr.. intelligent design thing.

(Frost) It’s a film about an alien, if your faith is going to be rocked by it, well then..

(Kermode)..but  peoples ability to get cross about anything is irrational isn’t it. Particularly in that area….

(Frost) It’s not like you can sit down with ’em and say hey you know it’s only a film…. don’t get angry.. I was thinking about doing a special edition where Christ lands in a big cross shaped space ship, maybe that would appease both sides. 

(Mayo) A question about the title…. (Pegg)  Paul. We tried to make it,  wanted to make it simplistic and enigmatic and also, there is a biblical element in there, it is multilayered, multifaceted. 

Martyr or Alien?

There’s an insidious and dangerous  trend on the move in the underbelly of British culture.  As people are becoming increasingly the brunt of  attacks because of their Christian faith, this is coming out in various forms. A nurse is  fired for praying with a dying man. A teacher is reprimanded for wearing a cross.  A loving couple with a solid reputation for caring for foster children, are now denied, because of their Christian beliefs. Through subtle (and not so subtle ) mockery, whether that be in music, tv shows (Glee anyone?) and film. Paul, is one of those movies that has been used to mock. Oh, and the name of the movie and character?  The “biblical element” though it is never mentioned,  is the Apostle Paul. Funny hey?

Now it might sound like sour grapes over a silly movie, but as more Christians are dying for what they believe in in countries around the world and pressure mounts in the West through mockery and taunting, there is a “cool factor”  in making these kind of attacks acceptable.

So, that’s why I am picky about Paul.  I do have a very real problem with the movie.  My faith will not be rocked. I am not irrational. I am disturbed by the trend. They are free to make their movies. I don’t  believe in pickets or boycotts.  What power I do have as an individual though, is at the box office.  At least we still have the freedom to choose that which we will give our time and money too, and thank God, so do you.

BlockBusted


I was driving past a local Blockbuster yesterday and saw a huge yellow “everything on sale/going out of business” sign.  Never one to miss potential deals to add to my collection, I decided to take a drive over after dinner to see what was going on.

I had heard it was in trouble, but the sight of the sign really made me wonder to what extent. Once Netflix started to gain ground, it seemed they lost the plot with their highly controversial and confusing return policy, an idea that must have seemed a good one at the time, but none the less had the feel that the implementation was put together in a bit of a panic. Unfortunately, in tripping over themselves in trying to catch up,  they never really quite recovered.  This is a lesson of what not to do. After trying to return a movie to an unspecified movie rental store, a disgruntled, ticked off customer decided there had to be a better way of NOT losing $40.00 in late fees.

Late fees… urgh, who has not had to hand over a fee?  Meet Reed Hastings,  the disgruntled customer and  founder of Netflix. The one fee, no late return, movies to your mailbox company.  A revelation for customers and a revolution for the industry.  Hastings seems to be keeping up with the changes in the latest technology and now streams movies as well.  Add to that the genius of Redbox, where you can get a movie for as little as a dollar and  conveniently find in major stores, one wonders what the future holds for Blockbuster.

I did buy a movie by the way. Just one. Prices are supposed be reduced again on Monday, so I’ll go over again to see what’s left. What did I buy?  “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill, But Came Down a Mountain”. I’ll tell you about that another time….

The King Is Crowned


What a great night for “The King’s Speech”!  Best film, Actor, Screenplay and Director.  After my earlier fool hardy headline prediction, I must admit I thought I got a whiff of humble pie baking, but when Aaron Sorkin got his Best Adapted Screenplay, I felt the end was near for The Social Network and it had gotten all the friends it was going to get.  It was time for  the King to clinch the goody’s.

There were no big surprises in the actor categories. Those heavily tipped went on to score, Firth, Portman, Leo and Bale. You can check out the full list of winner’s and photo’s here: http://www.oscars.org/

As for the night’s presentation and acceptance speeches, you just know there were going be the usual shining lights and dim duds. Here’s my penny’s worth, with the King’s head on it of course!

Winner’s

Billy Crystal.  I was nodding along with Justin Timberlake in the hopes that you would consider coming back. Welcome back Billy, you’re stay was too short, hope to see you next year and hey, stick around a little longer next time, say like about four hours longer.

After a shaky start, Anne Hathaway seemed to relax and gave us instead an impromptu shake of her beautiful tasseled gown. (One of many changes of gowns  during the course of the evening). She imbued excitement, awe and enjoyment, and she didn’t even win anything. Nice one Anne.

Aaron Sorkin showed us why he won Best Adapted Screenplay with his great speech, and why Melissa Leo really needed one. But more of her later.

Sandra Bullock, I loved your Best Actor pre amble, are you free same time next year?

The best Acceptance speech goes to…. Luke Matheny, the winner of the Best Short Film (Live Action) category. Sweet and fun.

Russell Brand. You never know what’s going to happen with Russell and when he appeared with Dame Helen, I feared the worst. Instead, I felt a breath of fresh air. Forget Ricky Gervais. He could be the man we have all been waiting for. If  Billy doesn’t come back of course.

….and Colin, would have loved to see you dancing in delight! With Firth frenzy going on in my house,  we did it for you 🙂

Wincer’s

Oh deary dear… what were you thinking James Franco. No really, what were you thinking, you looked a little blank and not too sure where you were. You did know where the teleprompter was though which was a good thing. Not so much for us though, we could see where it was as well by your constant gazing at it.

Melissa Leo. (Excuse me while I stop for a break and get breakfast, this could take a while.)   ….back with a cup of tea in one hand and my head in the other.  How to describe Melissa?  While I am sure she was as surprised as she seemed upon hearing her name, I couldn’t help but feel that  her acceptance was a little dramatic and campy and dare I say, just a tad “put on”?.  Told you she needed a script.  And swearing! That’s a no-no Leo.

The winner’s for Best Documentary won for a piece called “Inside Job” and this was the moment for the obligatory political propaganda. While I agreed with him, it’s still off-putting. Always has been, always will be. Stick to your thanks. Thanks.

The presenter of said Documentary, was none other than Oprah Winfrey. This is where darling Anne made a slip by saying something to do with breathing the same air as her. What?

I just invented a new category. Both winner and wincer award goes to Kirk Douglas. What a guy. What a legend.  What was he doing presenting. I love Kirk, he will always be a winner… oooh, but he did make me wince.

Well, that’s it. The high’s and low’s in my humble opinion. It will be interesting to see if  the younger presenters made any difference in drawing a younger demographic. Although I loved the movie montage at the beginning, and the one the presenters did  (a la Crystal), it did feel a little stilted and cautious. Maybe they take the whole thing  just a little too seriously? Maybe this is the crowning of royalty in this celebrity culture and so a sense of reserve is expected? I don’t know. I think in a more relaxed production, we would see more relaxed presenters and maybe more of a fun time could be had by all.

Or, there’s always Billy Crystal.

All Hail The King!


Like my heading?  Yes, I know I am being a little premature, yes, I know I may well be wrong, but I thought I would pull a Dewey and hope, please please, pretty please… that I am right and  The King’s Speech wins!

For those of you not in the know. Dewey was a US presidential hopeful whose name hit the headlines as a winner before the fact. For your educational benefit, it was Harry S. Trueman that won.

Now, down to business. If you didn’t get to see the King’s Speech, you have about 27 hours at the time of writing  so use the time wisely, and go see this cracker of a movie that is going to sweep the Oscars.

You will find my review of  the movie on this site  if you want to brush up on the premise. I have looked at the trailers again and suddenly felt the need to see it once more. The movie, and especially Colin Firth’s performance, somehow seemed even more powerful and solidified my opinion that he and the movie really should win.

So that’s all folks. Whether you are hosting a party or will be a guest, or whether you will be curled up on your sofa with  your choice of beverage and snacks.. have a great Oscar night.   

Don’t forget to print off your Oscar ballot and have a little bet yourself.  You will find the ballot here: http://a.oscar.go.com/media/2011/pdf/oscar_ballot_2011.pdf.

Here’s hoping I wont have to switch my heading in the middle of the night 🙂

True Brit: The Oscar Race Is On!


Well,  print your invitations and get ready to party. The nominations for the 2011 Academy Awards have been announced! 

First of all, The King’s Speech leads the way with 12 nominations (yippeeee)  followed by True Grit and Social Network.  For me,  this is a pretty good start  to the day.  Glad to see Colin Firth, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence and Danny Boyle recognized.

But before we get too carried away, it’s  time to grouch about who was and who was not, invited the the ball.

The Usual Suspects

Christopher Nolan missed out on Directing for Inception? What!  There were two nominees from the Supporting Actress category that were a surprise too. Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old in True Grit and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom. I’m ok with that, Hailee was awesome and I hear Jacki was incredible.  Omitted is The Town for Best Film?  Andrew Garfield (Social Network) for Supporting Actor? and Lesley Manville ( Another Year) for Best Actress (big ??)  Inexplicably included: Mark Ruffalo? Annette Bening? Michelle Williams?  Breathing rather deeply…. that’s all I’ll say…. question mark.   

Of course, these are my suspects.. and it feels good to get them out of my system. I think I’m ready to party….

Go ahead… make my day..

Click on the link below, take a look and let me know what made you happy and/or grouchy this morning.

http://oscar.go.com/

Your mission, should you choose to accept it..

Before you party, here are the 10 you simply must see.

The King’s Speech (Duh)

Social Network

True Brit, I mean Grit

Winter’s Bone

Toy Story 3

How To Train Your Dragon

Inception

127 Hours

The Town

Exit Through the Gift Shop