Part travelogue, part cultural anthropology, and part football history, Director Richard Shepherd’s film Laduma! Benin’s Journey captures an insider’s view as a small African nation tries to qualify for WC 2010.Continue reading “Trying to qualify for WC 2010 in ‘Laduma! Benin’s Journey’ (2011)”
Thinking of going to WC 2018? Watch Russia’s Hooligan Army. It may change your mind, especially if you are British and male. This BBC TV documentary starts with news footage of the Russian hooligan attacks at Euro 2016. Then, it turns the spigot on full blast in sensationalist interviews with Russian supporters group leaders, who crow over their victories and ready their members for the next round on the home soil of WC 2018.Continue reading “‘Russia’s Hooligan Army’ (2017) is painfully real”
Rachel Viollet’s documentary may have started as a memorial to her father, Dennis Viollet of Manchester United fame. But as she conducted interviews and collected history, her film also became an intriguing record of how the soccer world changed around him and because of him.Continue reading “‘Dennis Viollet: A United Man’ (2016) and a Busby Babe survivor”
I Play Soccer is a 6-minute short film about the Sierra Leone football academy run by the Craig Bellamy Foundation. By Stefan Lovgren, the film is more advertising than documentary. Like many soccer movies, I learned more from researching the subject than watching this film.Continue reading “‘I Play Soccer’ (2011) at a Sierra Leone academy”
Asked what The Magnificent Eleven is about, actor Robert Vaughn boiled it down to: “Dancing footie players, nude.” This film is a little more than that, but it does put that nudie footie player thing front and center quite a bit. Or front and to the side. Or mostly, flabby rear end in the clubhouse shower, the locker room, the team bus, the pitch… you get the idea.Continue reading “‘The Magnificent Eleven’ (2012) dancing nude footie”
While the facts of Walter Tull’s life are exemplary, the fictional film Walter’s War leaves too much unsaid. Tull’s unique achievements, as one of the first Black British footballers, and then as the first Black British officer in Europe’s trenches, are now heralded.Continue reading “‘Walter’s War’ (2008) leaves much unexplained”
Nicholas Bailey says he spent 7 years trying to get this documentary made, and soccer movie enthusiasts should be glad he persisted. Walter Tull: Forgotten Hero covers Tull’s life from childhood to Black British footballer to World War 1 Black British officer and member of the Football Battalion.
The film sets Tull’s struggles and successes in the harsh context of British orphanages and racism. Bailey also visits Tull’s surviving relatives (children of his older brother) and covers Tull’s legacy, which is now promulgated as a role model to children growing up in his old neighborhoods.Continue reading “‘Walter Tull: Forgotten Hero’ (2008) preserves his legacy”
No Ball Games is a 7-minute short film that might turn off a typical soccer movie fan. I found humor in it but my hubby did not. It reflects the director’s sense of humor, entrancing the viewer with a boy whose ball goes over a wall into a secret garden.Continue reading “‘No Ball Games’ (2012) is darkly funny, twisted humor”
No other soccer film so proudly demonstrates the types of foul play that can end players’ careers or easily result in a mass confrontation. An important archive of English football history, Soccer’s Hard Men is a 1992 film that every referee should watch.
Fortunately, most of the tackles, punches, crotch grabs, elbows, hits on GKs, and other misconducts shown in this film would be instant ejections today. But developing referees would see the hard evidence on why these fouls are now disallowed.Continue reading “Every referee should watch ‘Soccer’s Hard Men’ (1992)”
The Brothers Grimsby is a new path for Sacha Baron Cohen. Instead of giving us a narcissistic Borat, Bruno, or Ali G, his Nobby is a likable character: family man, loyal brother, wasted England fan, and unlikely action hero. That is, when Cohen isn’t delivering his usual shtick of male sex organs and anal violation.Continue reading “‘The Brothers Grimsby’ (2016) fight to save an English final”
The Goalkeepers’ Union is an excellent NBCSN documentary from Roger Bennett, the mugging half of Men in Blazers. GKs are in an isolated group who understand what other GKs go through.
Bennett asks 4 Premier League GKs all the questions that a mere mortal fan would like to ask:Continue reading “Goalkeeping tips from ‘The Goalkeepers’ Union’ (2015)”
Reds & Blues: The Ballad of Dixie & Kenny is a football farce about 2 sets of ardent fans who live next door to each other in Merseyside. One neighbor supports Everton (Blues), while the other supports Liverpool (Reds).Continue reading “Fan is short for fanatic in ‘Reds & Blues’ (2010)”
Watching the BBC documentary Coach Zoran and his African Tigers is like watching a train wreck, where the runaway locomotive is the Serbian coach of the new South Sudan national team.
Roger Bennett, the wisecracking word-swilling nipple-tugging right half of Men in Blazers, created this stirring tale of AFC Bournemouth, known as the Cherries. He turns up the drama as AFCB rises from the pit of two successive bankruptcies and near relegation to the EPL in just 7 seasons.Continue reading “‘AFC Bournemouth: Together, Anything is Possible’ (2015)”
Many of the best soccer movies have been directed by women. Unfortunately, When Saturday Comes does not earn that distinction. Sean Bean plays young brewery worker Jimmy Muir, who gets the chance to tryout for his home team, Sheffield United.
But Jimmy sabotages himself with his own fear, drink, and lack of self-discipline, along with a multitude of challenges from family and friends.Continue reading “‘When Saturday Comes’ (1996) surprisingly directed by a woman”