Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Monkey Movie Review

I'm like most people in the USA, outside of the World Cup I don't give a crap about soccer, or football as the Europeans call it. I'd rather get beaten in the kidneys with a sack of rabid mentally deranged howler monkeys than watch a professional soccer match. And if you start talking about British professional soccer, then my eyes glaze over and I go to my happy place inside my mind until you shut up about it.

So you'd think that a film about a charismatic brash British soccer manager who steps on his own dick throughout his career would bore me to tears. Well bunky, if you thought that then you'd be wrong. The Damned United is probably the best new film I've seen all year. And if Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, and Colm Meaney don't get nominated for their performances in it come Oscar time, then there is no justice in the cinematic world.

This film tells the story of Brian Clough's disastrous 44 day tenure as manager of Leeds United in 1974. At that time Leeds United was the top team in the British Premier League. The coach who took them to the top left to become coach of the English national team and Leeds United hired his long time rival, Clough, played brilliantly by Michael Sheen, to take the reins of the club over. From day one it was a bad decision. Clough's style clashed with the players, the owners, and most every one else connected with the team. He pissed off secretaries, the board of directors, the players, and the fans. His brash style was a sharp contrast to the back slapping good ol' boy style of coaching that everyone on the team was used to.

Watching Sheen dive into this role is a wonder to behold. His smarmy know it all Clough is stunning. Everything must be done his way even after he sees it's not going to work. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. He can't help himself, he's got to not only be right all the time, he's got to rub your nose in his rightness. The scene where he berates his best friend, played with so much pathos by Timothy Spall that it oozes from the screen, who refuses to go to Leeds with him is nothing short of brilliant. Both Spall and Sheen solidify their acting chops in this film.

The extras on this one are very noteworthy as well. There are the usual deleted scenes and 'making of' featurette, but more importantly there are a couple of documentaries about the real Brian Clough and British soccer from the 1970's. Both use many folks who knew, played for, and played against Clough when he was a player and a manager. I found it all to be terribly interesting.

I can't recommend this one highly enough. It's a masterclass in cinematic acting and it's a hell of a compelling story that's well told and well made.

3 comments:

The Station Agent said...

Good call, Doc. That movie is fantastic.

Lisa said...

I just saw this at the library. I'll be checking it out the next time I'm there.

Megan said...

I will BOLO.