‘All or Nothing: Tottenham HotSpur’ (2020) showcases Mourinho

All or Nothing: Tottenham HotSpur (2020) - TV series

The Amazon docuseries, All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur, directed by Anthony Philipson and produced by 72 Films, has a purpose that can’t be ignored. You can hear a small Gollum whispering in your ear: “Like us,” it says. “England’s biggest newest stadium,” it says. “José Mourinho is really a good guy,” it says.

Wait, stop. Run that by me again? And that’s a thread that ran through my mind the whole series: why would Tottenham create over 7 hours of promo for José Mourinho, the once-adored, now-maligned former (FIFA 2010) best manager in football? Simply put, it’s all about global branding. 

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‘The Keeper’ (2018) – when good play heals divides

The Keeper (2018)

The Keeper is based on the young life of ManCity goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, whose worldwide fame is due to having weathered the last 20 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck.

But fittingly, that incident is a smaller part of the movie, because the real story is how a Nazi soldier and POW became a First Division GK in English football in just a few years after the end of World War 2.

The film gives insight into life in a British POW camp, where Trautmann and other soldiers were re-educated and put to work. There may have been 1,026 such POW camps in Britain, holding 400,000 captives who were eventually repatriated.

The Story

In the story, which may be quite fictionalized, merchant Jack Friar (John Henshaw) manages St Helens Town FC and spots Trautmann (David Kross) in the POW camp, stopping penalties to win cigarettes. Trying to avoid his club’s relegation, Friar induces the camp commander to let him borrow the GK to work in his shop and, on the sly, play football. There is anti-German sentiment from the players, fans and Friar’s family, but Trautmann’s goodness and footballing ability win them over.

At the same time, having been in the Hitler youth corp and later won an Iron Cross, Trautmann faces up to what his country has done. He also faces the guilt of knowing that he could have been a better human. The romance between Trautmann and Friar’s headstrong daughter Margaret (Freya Mavor) plays a large part of the story, and her acceptance of him is emblematic of a country trying to heal.

The second part of the story is Trautmann’s move to ManCity and his performance in the FC Cup. He overcomes the antipathy of fans, especially the large contingent of Jewish ManCity supporters. The third part of the story is the tragedy that befalls the Trautmanns just a few months after the neck injury.

The Importance of Trautmann’s story

I was able to attend a JCC zoom talk with Bavarian Writer-Director Marcus H Rosenmüller, in which he talked about what he was trying to do. The story was presented to Rosenmüller 10 years earlier. To him, a driving force was for Germans to talk about the war, something the German people could not bring themselves to confront for decades.

After interviewing Trautmann over 10 days, Marcus decided there are different types of Nazis. Some just kill cold-bloodedly, and others go along and then realize what is happening but hide it. This is where the shame comes from, when we don’t see people as humans and we just follow along and don’t fight for Democracy.

Last year and this, I missed several opportunities to watch The Keeper at Jewish film festivals and online JCC streaming events. I was surprised to be able to find and enjoy it on Kanopy through my library. And this is my point, that this film should not be relegated to ethnic film festivals. The Keeper has valuable messages for this time in our lives, especially for Americans. Doing one’s duty or being a good soldier is not enough. As in #BlackLivesMatter, Silence is Violence.

Other notes about the production

Although The Keeper is Rosenmüller’s first English language film, the first part could easily be mistaken for a typically excellent BBC production, with an emphasis on authenticity. While that part of this British-German production was shot in Scotland, the Manchester scenes were filmed in Bavaria to satisfy a grant requirement. They had to make a Bavarian stadium look like Manchester and use Bavarian footballers (one of them a bit chubby). The soccer is very well done.

Scotsman Gary Lewis plays ManCity manager Jock Thompson. Gary Lewis is probably most recognizable for playing the dad in Billy Elliot, but I noticed that he has acted in 4 soccer movies on my site: The Keeper, Goal!, Joyeux Noel, The Match, plus My Name is Joe.

Lastly, I found it rather interesting that most of the reviews of this film tend to focus on Trautmann’s career and the neck injury that made him famous. After doing some research, I became very unsure how fictionalized the first part of this film is. So my goal now is to read Catrine Clay’s book on Trautmann’s Journey and get a better view of the facts on being a German POW in the UK, and how Trautmann really became a GK. Isn’t it interesting what you can learn from soccer movies?

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7

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‘Still Defending’ (2020) after a life-threatening illness

Still Defending (2019)
Still Defending: Drew Beckie’s Road to Recovery (2019)

We never know what can take us down: accidents, cancer, our own bad habits. Today, coronavirus is foremost in our minds. But in 2017, Canadian soccer player Drew Beckie contracted myocarditis, an infection in his heart. The standard medical advice was absolute rest for 6-8 months and the warning that he might never play again. 

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‘The Rhino Cup’ (2019) – can football reduce poaching?

The Rhino Cup (2019)

When anti-poachers asked a village how to help, the answer was a football league.

As a child, Matt Bracken developed a love for Africa’s wildlife, which lead to his becoming a safari travel specialist. From there, he became an anti-poaching ranger for ProTrack in South Africa. Protrack has 300 rangers in Mozambique who fight rhinoceros poachers.

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‘Muerte o Gloria: The Rise of the American Soccer Fan’ (2015)

Muerte o Gloria: The Rise of the American Soccer Fan (2015)

As a soccer fan who rarely watches any other sport these days, I tend to forget that basketball, baseball and pointy football don’t have fans like soccer football does. Following the European and Latin American traditions, soccer is the only pro sport in the USA where, pre-pandemic, supporters groups show up with songs, drums, banners, flags, TIFOs and a s**tload of enthusiasm.

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Sunderland ’Til I Die (2018) takes your eye off the truth

Sunderland 'Til I Die (2018-2019)

Football clubs used to publish just a single documentary film about themselves every so often, but now they’ve migrated to massive streaming series. Usually I avoid football club and player movies because I know they are going to amount to a very long marketing video. I made an exception for the Netflix series Sunderland ’Til I Die. And here’s why.

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‘Footeuses’ (2020) add women and football to your lexicon

In France, Footeuses is what female footballers call themselves, the feminine form of Footballeur. Until recently, to be a female footballer was largely an oxymoron: to be female and a football player was not accepted. This changed with the Womens World Cup 2019 in France and the hope that the hosting country’s women would repeat the French mens’ success at WC 2018. 

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‘Boisko Bezdomnych’ (2008): a fictional tale of a homeless World Cup team

Boisko Bezdomnych (2008)
The Outsiders (2008)

Sometimes a drama can reveal more about society’s problems than can a documentary. From its Amazon Prime description, it might not catch your eye that, unlike all the other movies on this topic, Boisko Bezdomnych is a dramatic feature film. The idea for the film arose from a Polish team going to the Homeless World Cup.

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‘Soccer in the City’ (2019) highlights soccer for good

Soccer in the City (2019)

The message of Soccer in the City is important: that at $1,500 to $5,500 per year, the pay-to-play model excludes low-income children. American soccer doesn’t reach inner city kids, who could be untapped potential to help win World Cups. In his feature-length debut, Director Michael Holstein shows urban efforts bearing fruit in DC, the Bronx, and Atlanta.

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More romance and less soccer in ‘See You Soon’ (2019)

See You Soon (2019) 
До скорой встречи

See You Soon (До скорой встречи) is a beguiling romance that combines fairy tale, travelogue, and a little bit of soccer. 

Can America have a male soccer star who is a recognizable face worldwide but plays in the USA? To American hearts still aching from the failure to qualify in T&T, it feels like a fantasy. Adding to the soccer fairytale, the ridiculously handsome Ryan Hawkes (Liam McIntyre) plays for the storied Los Angeles SC. (That’s LASC, not Bob Bradley’s LAFC). Celebrity has gone to Ryan’s head, and he’s a jerk who throws champagne and cocktail glasses when he’s mad drunk. Driving while intoxicated, he suffers a major knee injury and a media backlash.

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Only watch ‘Maradona’ (2019) for the football

Diego Maradona (2019)

Before there was Messi, there was Maradona. Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona is an extraordinary football film in its collection of Maradona’s greatest hits: his passes and shots as well as the violence perpetrated upon him by opponents. In extensive footage, time and time again Maradona throws off tackles like a dog shaking off raindrops. There is not a single moment where he looks ordinary on the field. Even his juggling during practice is something I had never seen before.

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