Categories
Documentary

At least the soccer is great in ‘LFG’ (2021)

LFG,  the new documentary on HBOMax, is about a mission that is right and just. From other reviews on this website, you know that I am 100% behind the USWNT’s fight for equal pay. But LFG (Let’s F**king Go!) is in some ways a disservice to the cause, because the film is too long and becomes boring. The first rule of soccer movies should be: Don’t take more than 90 minutes to tell your story.

Categories
Drama

‘Baggio: The Divine Ponytail’ (2021) – GOAT or goat?

When creating a biopic about a footballer, who you claim to be one of the best that ever played, the rule is that the film must have some football in it. At least have enough soccer to show the viewer that the player’s greatness cannot be denied.

Categories
Kids

‘Strike’ (2019) a kids movie with football, mining, and sabotage

Strike is the story of Mungo, a footballing mole with a goal to win the Wild Cup for England. Mungo is torn, because like many footballing greats from the olden days, he has to work in the mines and uphold the proud tradition of his forefathers and everyone else at the Diggington gold mine.

Categories
Documentary

‘Fixed!’ (2020) – how to play the match-fixing game

Once you’ve served prison time for match fixing, what is the easiest way to keep making money? Claim yourself notorious, become a consultant, and get paid to give interviews about corruption in FIFA. 

The story of match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal first broke in 2010, when as a FIFA Match Agent, Perumal arranged an international friendly between Bahrain and a fake team from Togo. The resulting outrage brought the match-fixing to light.

Categories
Drama Suspense

‘Sikandar’ (2009) shows the omnipresent terrorism in Kashmir

Sikandar opens with the activities of a small Muslim village in a beautiful mountainous setting. As school lets out, children stream downhill to the market plaza. A child spies a loose soccer ball, kicks it, and it explodes, blowing apart everything and everyone in the plaza. Welcome to routine life in Kashmir.

Categories
Drama Kids

‘The Goal’ is social justice + football in 1999

Gulbahar Singh is a director who wants to make feature films on humanity, and The Goal (द गोल) is an unusual football drama in that its coach decides that overcoming prejudice is more important than winning.

Categories
Drama

Daisy Shah a reason to watch ‘Gujarat 11’ (2019)

Gujarat 11 is promoted as the first Gujarati sports film and stars popular and handsome Gujarati actors Daisy Shah and Pratik Gandhi. The story mixes in a number of themes, but while each theme has good points, they are not enough to forgive 2 hours and 20 minutes of banality.

Categories
Documentary

‘The El Paso Conquest’ (2014) is an honest film

Feature length sports documentaries about real high school teams commonly focus on a theme of social good. In contrast, The El Paso Conquest covers the boys soccer team at Del Valle High School in El Paso, Texas in it ups and downs, but it avoids social themes.

Categories
Documentary

Glamour and goals for the Giallorossi in ‘Roma Story: Edin Džeko’ (2020)

If you know who Edin Džeko is, do you need to watch this movie? If you don’t know who he is, should you watch this movie? My answers are yes and no.

Categories
Documentary

A one man show: ‘Jason Marriner – Football Hooligan’ (2009)

Is there life after football hooliganism? This short documentary on Jason Marriner tells us, if nothing else, that hooligans retain many fond memories, most of which as perpetrators they can’t really talk about on screen.

And the other reason they can’t talk about it is because they want you to read their book instead.

Categories
Comedy Drama

‘The Naked Man on the Sports Field’ (1974)

Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz is not really a soccer movie. This 1974 film from the East German director Konrad Wolf is about a sculptor (Kurt Böwe) in a small town, who gets a commission to create a monument for the local football stadium. Since the artist is fairly well known, the local authorities hope such a public artwork will help increase game attendance.

Categories
Documentary

‘Matthews’ (2017) admire the man but skip the film

The career of Sir Stanley Matthews is so long — he retired at age 50 — and the footage so slim that it is hard to understand why Gary Lineker calls Stanley “the Messi of his day”. 

It’s a difficult mission for the documentary Matthews – The Original No. 7. How do you make a 78-minute film more compelling than Tifo Football’s 5-minute animation “A Brief History of Stanley Matthews”? 

Categories
Suspense

‘The Arsenal Stadium Mystery’ (1939) is a classic football film

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is one of those old-time whodunits that would normally disappear in the depth of film archives but for one redeeming grace: it has unique football scenes of Arsenal FC. It is also touted as the first feature film where football is a major part of the story.

Based on a popular 1939 mystery novel of the same name, the movie was released the same year. In the story, Arsenal plays a charity match against the Trojans, the best amateur team in the nation. During the game, a Trojan player falls dead on the field. The game is terminated and rescheduled for the following week, and Scotland Yard is called in.

Leslie Banks plays Inspector Slade, a clever but quirky detective more engrossed in the charity theater revue he is putting on and the hats he wears for different stages of an investigation. In classic film detective trope, the Inspector figures out that ladies man Doyce was poisoned, finds the weapon, lines up the suspects, and figures out how to identify the killer in the Wednesday makeup game. One of the key suspects is model Gwen Lee (Greta Gynt), who is having an affair with Doyce even though she is engaged to his teammate.

A snapshot of that football period

The soccer action is game footage from the last match played at Highbury Stadium before the advent of World War 2, between Arsenal and Brentwood FC. Much like in The Great Game, you get a feel for the crowds, the uniforms, the play, and even how football was filmed back then. I don’t know how authentic the stadium interiors are, such as the dressing rooms and the treatment room that separates them.

The film starts off in Arsenal’s smoke filled screening room, where various players, manager and staff are puffing away while watching the newsreel that will go out to theaters.

Another scene is in an Arsenal meeting room where real-life Arsenal manager George Allison plays himself conducting a strategy session with the team on how the Trojans will play. Unaware of this fact, I remember thinking during that scene that the actor must have really studied football in order to speak those lines so quickly and confidently. 🙂

Also, take note of the makeup of the Trojans — educated men whose careers include chemistry (the maker of the pharmaceutical poison), investors in the pharmaceutical project, and graphical design. No bakers or plumbers on this team!

Conclusion

I most enjoyed Banks’ performance as Inspector Slade, which was apparently a role that went against type. Though he’s only in half the film, Anthony Bushell drew my eye because of his resemblance to a young William Hurt.

I watched this film on youtube but had trouble understanding the audio, which was a bit muffled. If you can find a good copy to watch, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is a sweet little detective classic, and if you’re really a soccer movie buff, you have to add it to your arsenal.

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6

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Categories
Documentary

A treasure for old Leeds fans – ‘Do You Want to Win?’ (2017)

I enjoyed Lee Hicken’s Take Us Home: Leeds United series so much, I was compelled to watch his earlier documentary on Leeds. Both are on Amazon Prime. Do You Want to Win covers Leeds’ last successful seasons in the early 1990s, when they won promotion to the top division and 2 years later won that division in the last season before it became the EPL.

Categories
Documentary

‘Foosballers’ (2019) – a game but not a sport

Before there was esports and online gaming, there was Foosball, a staple of family rooms, dens, and arcades. Back then in the dorms, it was one of those games you migrated to after you lost at ping pong.