Before watching this Netflix docuseries on Neymar, I knew little about the Brazilian who was supposed to be the next Pelé. I’ve probably seen more memes of Neymar than I’ve seen him play.
Maradona Blessed Dream, the 10-episode series from Amazon, may hook you in its steady outpouring of sex, drugs and fútbol. It will probably be the grandest film/series about Diego Armando Maradona that will ever be made. But if I hadn’t felt compelled to review it, I would have preferred to turn it off. It just feels so distasteful and disrespectful. Do we really want to remember Maradona by the depictions of his nightlife, copulations and orgies?
The Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso has had such a cultural impact, it calls for a separate review for its second season. Season One arrived as an antidote to a toxic presidency and a worldwide pandemic. Coach Ted Lasso was quoted from the pulpit of my local Presbyterian church, in whose congregation almost no one follows soccer.
There are so many reviews of this Apple TV+ original series, there isn’t much for me to add. Well, except for that bit about hating the ending. But let me start by saying Ted Lasso is one of few things that I can be thankful for this year, outside of my family and friends. This ensemble piece gives us characters that we care about and watch develop over 10 episodes. It’s almost heartbreaking that we have to wait until next year for season 2.
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.
As we all struggle on with the pandemic, one of the things we miss most is sporting events — the hot dogs, the beer, the chance to be with like-minded souls and scream in unison at a goal or a bad foul. For some, streaming sports documentary series at home is a modest substitute. Writer-Director Lee Hicken’s series Take Us Home: Leeds United does more than substitute for sports; it creates a sporting legend.
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.
A period drama about football is unique. A well-crafted tale in this time of pestilence is a joy and a comfort. The English Game, how football became the people’s game, is elegant soap opera and luscious escapism to a simpler time. Three nights in a row, to close out my shelter-in-place day, I self-administered dollops of this Netflix TV series and then slept deeply, sans souci.
Post-football, Eric Cantona found a new passion and challenge: cinema. At 30 years old, he unexpectedly retired from football in 1997. Among reasons Eric has cited in retrospect: he was tired of playing the game. However, he transitioned to acting as well as beach soccer, popularizing the sport and managing the French beach soccer team for almost 15 years.
The Streets Don’t Lie is a 3-episode mini-series from the 2017 season of Red Bull TV. Each 27-minute episode follows former French International Djibril Cissé as he travels to London, Berlin, and Paris. In each city, he interviews 3 candidates, from which he selects one player to train with a Red Bull academy for one week.