Football has never really lent itself to the silver screen.
Somehow things just don’t work the movement is too forced, the celebrations too cartoonish, the plots too hackneyed, the acting too stilted, the need to get a few real-life players in there (for some reason) too hard to resist.
When Saturday Comes is no different.
The football scenes don’t work, the plot would’ve been turned down by Boy’s Own for being too far-fetched, and Mel Sterland and Tony Currie pop up and make Ally McCoist look like Robert De Niro.
The climax should be pretty clear before the opening titles have ended.
If you’re expecting an “And yet ” at this point, think again.
You can’t dress this up as a moment of cinematic brilliance any more than you could put a fur coat on a frog and call it a rabbit just because it hops.
It’s really bad.
But its saving grace comes in its stubbornness: it doesn’t care that all unfolds with mind-numbing inevitability, it’s not bothered that the clich’s come as thick and fast as a custard tsunami.
It simply sticks melodrama tab A into sporting redemption story slot B and moseys towards a slow-motion finale and the end credits.
At its heart is Jimmy Muir, played by Sean Bean, a broad-brush northern everyman, working hard and drinking hard.
His childhood was tough.
His dad always told him he’d never amount to anything.
But he always had talent.
He’s grown up to be a pub player.
He gets scouted.
Now he’s a non-league player for Hallam FC.
He gets scouted again.
He’s gone and got himself a trial at Sheffield United, the club he has supported all his life, the club his best mate, his innocent child-like younger brother, is utterly obsessed with.
And he’s just started seeing the attractive young wages clerk at the brewery.
So far, so good for Jimmy Muir.
Do we think it’s all going to swimmingly from here? The night before his big trial he goes out, gets hammered and sleeps with a stripper, simultaneously jeopardising his chances with United and his relationship with wages clerk Annie.
At the trial he can’t trap a bag of cement and United’s manager (straight out of the Big Bag o’ Gruff Scottish Footballing Stereotypes) sends him home.
Could life get any worse? Well, yes.
His younger brother Russ is killed in a mining accident.
No football career, no girl, his family crumbling, Jimmy considers jumping in front of the 8.45 from Rotherham What now? Does he jump? Does he clean up his act? Does he get a second chance? Does he look wide-eyed at the stands to see a vision of his brother as he lines up to take a last-minute penalty against Manchester United in an FA Cup semi-final that is for some reason taking place at Bramall Lane despite Sheffield United being one of the sides playing? No spoilers here.
You’ll have to watch it to find out.
JA “Fucking Quintana that creep can roll, man” – The Dude.
“Yeah, but he’s a pervert, Dude” – Walter Sobchak.
A psychotic, bullying, gyrating, foul-mouthed, Hispanic paedophile and accomplished 10-pin bowler who dresses from head to toe in lilac, Jesus Quintana licks his own (bowling) balls before shining them with the finesse one might expect from the Viz character Buster Gonads as he vigorously towels his unfeasibly large testicles.
What’s not to admire? Well apart from that? And that? And the other thing? In the mellow, blissed out world of The Dude, a middle-aged stoner who just wants to abide, drink White Russians, bowl with his disturbed friends Walter and Donny, and find his missing rug, Quintana is one of multiple stand-out basket cases determined to thwart him at every turn in this surreal Coen brothers excursion.
A member of an opposing team of fierce rivals in a local bowling league, he refers to himself as “The Jesus” (biblical, rather than Hispanic pronunciation) and has served six months in the Big House for exposing himself to an eight-year-old girl.
Played brilliantly by John Turturro, the role of Quintana is small, but beautifully performed.
“Let me tell you something, pendejo ,” he menacingly warns Walter ahead of an imminent semi-final.
“You pull any of your crazy shit with us, you flash a piece out on the lanes, I’ll take it away from you, stick it up your ass and pull the fucking trigger ’til it goes ‘click’.” Much of his look the hair-net, the extra long pinkie nail and almost all his mannerisms were conceived by Turturro prior to his one day of filming and happily, the actor was blithely indulged by his directors.
“When I saw it I was so embarrassed,” said Turturro of The Jesus’s montage.
“I liked it but I was so embarrassed.
People will be playing that at my funeral.
Now I want to do a sequel where Jesus gets out of jail and drives a school bus.
Cos those guys who drive school buses they never check them out.” As Quintano himself might say: “Nobody fucks with The Jesus!” BG Has anyone encapsulated the joy and pain of cycling better than Champion? He begins as a sad, silent orphan, whose life is enriched by the joy of pedalling.
The chubby wide-eyed tricycle-loving kid becomes the painfully thin pro, desperately trying to make his way on to Le Tour.
While living with his grandmother and his dog Bruno.
His proportions are impossible, his build a grotesque exaggeration of his real-world colleagues.
The thousand-mile stares, the gaunt features, the otherworldly calfs, the swollen thighs those qualities and more are perfectly distilled in the equine figure about whom of Belleville Rendez-vous revolves.
Training runs are undertaken with his grandmother literally in tow (she sits on his old tricycle and hooks onto his racing bike using her umbrella).
Post-workout massage involves his grandmother, a vacuum cleaner, an egg whisk and an old manual lawnmower.
His kidnap (after clambering painfully aboard the Tour’s broom wagon) and imprisonment as part of a weird mafiosi gambling ring spark the rescue attempt that is the heart of the film.
Throughout he is a cadaverous portrait of silent suffering he does not speak until the final frames.
But in the film’s best moments his character captures both what us mere mortals imagine it must be to dedicate yourself to the bike and also the simple pleasure to be found in the turn of a wheel.
JA Perhaps unique among Hollywood actors, Kevin Costner has starred in five different sports movies, all of which are good.
In order: American Flyers, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Tin Cup, For Love of the Game.
The first and fourth are about cycling and golf respectively, while the other three concern themselves with baseball.
In Bull Durham, Costner played Crash Davis, a washed up catcher.
In For Love of the Game, he was Billy Chapel, a washed up pitcher.
In the quintessentially American movie Field of Dreams, he was Ray Kinsella, an idealistic young farmer who tears up and plows his Iowa cornfield and replaces it with a baseball diamond at the behest of a mysterious, nagging whisper which insists: “if you build it, he will come”.
It transpires the “he” in question is the late Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago Black Sox left-fielder slung out of the Major Leagues forever for his part in an illegal conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series.
In Field of Dreams, based on WP Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe, Ray Kinsella builds the floodlit baseball field so his hero’s ghost can return to turn his arm over, eventually bring enough former players from baseball heaven to play a proper game and get his shot at redemption.
Incorporating a cross-country road trip to ease the pain of another stranger, the film concludes – spoiler alert! – with a vindicated Kinsella introducing his wife and daughter to, then playing catch with the late father he’d walked out on years previously in the wake of an argument over Jackson.
In the distance, we see the twinkling headlights of the hundreds of cars driven by curious sports fans queuing to watch the next ball game.
An unashamedly sentimental serving of celluloid gloop about righting wrongs, lost youth and the ongoing search for redemption, Field of Dreams is about a lot more than baseball.
“It’s also about lost dreams, generational ties and discovering magic in the back yard,” wrote Nina Easton in the Los Angeles Times.
“It is a male weepie at its wussiest,” bah-humbugged Richard Corliss in Time Magazine.
Both critics had a point.
“Field of Dreams was another movie no-one really wanted to make,” Costner told Michael Parkinson in a subsequent interview.
“It’s a hard movie to describe, but I really feel it’s our generation’s It’s A Wonderful Life.
I was really pleased to be associated with that movie.
I think Mark Twain said this: ‘If a man has never given up his childhood, then he’s absolutely living his life correctly’.
I don’t want to give up the wonderment I ever had.” Despite the threat of financial ruin and the misgivings of others, Ray Kinsella refused to give up that wonderment and followed his dream.
“Baseball is like church: many attend few understand,” said former NY Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers short-stop Leo ‘The Lip’ Durocher, who would go on to become one of the game’s great managers.
Ray Kinsella was one of the few.
He built a baseball field in the middle of nowhere and he sat there and he stared at nothing.
If he tried it today, he’d almost certainly be committed.
BG A 12-year-old girl wins a wild, apparently unbreakable but fast and sure-footed stallion in a local raffle and with the encouragement of her mother and the help of a bitter ex-jockey forced into retirement through injury, tames the unruly beast, disguises herself as a male jockey and enters the Grand National.
Sentimental, implausible lunchtime-on-BBC2 tosh, eh? Absolutely.
And yet the young Elizabeth Taylor is truly compelling performance in her first starring role.
“There’s something behind her eyes you just can’t fathom something Greta Garbo had,” said director Clarence Browne of the child actor who starred in his classic Technicolor movie.
“I really hate to call her an actress.
She’s much too natural for that.” Almost too natural.
The pre-pubescent Taylor’s diminutive stature and flat chest almost cost her the role because Browne needed somebody who could pass for a male jockey, while looking effeminate enough to appear on the threshold of maturity.
Such was her determination to play the character who wanted “to be a famous rider who should like to race” that she is rumoured to have “grown into the role” through a regime of swimming, horse-riding and hanging from a bar to stretch her spine.
Presumably, nature also lent a hand by taking her natural course.
A bona fide tear-jerker, National Velvet is a charming and inspirational movie, but is unique for its time in that it sends a strong feminist message courtesy of the idealistic, wholesome and innocent dreamer Brown (a far cry from the lusty sex sirens Taylor would go on to portray in adult life) and her mother, played by Anne Revere, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance.
Of course no Grand National double-act would be complete without a horse, and The Pie, aboard whom Brown came under starter’s orders was played by King Charles, four years his co-star’s junior and the animal on which Taylor learned to ride in Los Angeles.
A grandson of the famous American racehorse Man O’War, King Charles’s uncle Battleship had won the actual Grand National in 1938.
Interestingly, upon going to auction in New York after the actress’s death in 2011, Taylor’s script for National Velvet sold to a private US buyer for $170,000.
Its pre-sale estimate was $2,000 to $3,000.
BG There are four key reasons (one for each of the Rocky films he appeared in, conveniently enough) why this list would not be complete without the man Balboa battled, befriended, then avenged over the course of four of the most iconic (if not the best) boxing films ever made: i) The Predator.
The T-Rex in Jurassic Park.
Film history is full of cool bad guys.
Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago, Rocky’s other nemeses, can’t be counted among them.
But Apollo Creed can.
ii) He plays a key part in one of the classic sporting montages.
It’s a controversial view but the beach sprints make the Apollo-led montage from Rocky III the best of the four, better than the chicken chasing of Rocky I or the cheesy run through the streets of Philadelphia in Rocky II.
iii) The nicknames: “The King of Sting, the Dancing Destroyer, the Count of Monte Fisto, the Master of Disaster, the one, the only Apollo Creed.” The Count of Monte Fisto.
Just sit back and admire that.
48 View comments Thomas Ince has ominously warned that young English players feel ever more marginalised in an increasingly cosmopolitan Barclays Premier League.
Blackpool winger Ince knows the grim realities of the imagined promised land better than most.
He walked out on Liverpool at the age of nineteen, eager to escape the silver spoon of the academy and learn his trade in the lower divisions VIDEO Scroll down to watch 30second Freestyle: Tom Ince Fears: Ince is worried about the state of the English game after a busy summer of transfers He now admits that he would probably still be in the reserves should he have remained at Anfield.
Instead, he has flourished, first under Ian Holloway and currently under dad Paul.
Ince is too good for the Championship 18 goals and 14 assists last season and two goals in two appearances this campaign are proof of that.
Yet he remains anxious of a move to the Premier League, concerned that his development will be hindered at the expense of overseas players.
It is hard because in the Premier League, there are a lot of foreign players, Ince told Sportsmail .
If you look at a lot of clubs in the Premier League, particularly the top five, there are a lot of foreign players.
It makes it very hard for young English players to break through.
Hanging aroudn: Ince (right) spent his youth career at Liverpool, but is convinced he’d still be in the reserves if he’d stayed at Anfield You can see with the likes of Tom Carroll going to QPR on loan from Tottenham.
Andros Townsend and other good players like Danny Rose had to go out on loan from Tottenham so there are a lot of players in the Premier League who are having to take a step back.
A lot of people make rash decisions, based on getting into the Premier League too quick.
You have to earn the right to be somewhere.
‘Wherever you go, you are not guaranteed to play football.
There are a lot of English players out there now at big clubs who aren t playing football.
‘I am happy to be playing in the Championship – people underestimate how good this league is.
I will know when the time is right to go into the Premier League.
When I do, I don t want to be loaned out or be in and out of the team.
I have to make sure that I am ready.
Continental: Liverpool signed defender Tiago Ilori, while Arsenal swooped for Mesut Ozil (below) Ince was linked with a last-gasp move to the top-flight, with widespread speculation that Tottenham Hotspur made an approach for the England under-21 international on Sunday afternoon.
I didn t feel that, right now, I wanted to move to Tottenham or Everton.
It is flattering to have that interest in me but it is about playing for Blackpool and enjoying my football.
He also rejected a move to Cardiff earlier this summer – placing the needs of his young family first.
I went down to Cardiff to speak to Malky Mackay and what a guy he is, Ince explains.
They are a very strong team, they got a fantastic result against Manchester City and it wasn t to do with any fears that Cardiff might struggle.
‘I m based up in the North-West, I ve just had a little girl myself so I felt the timing wasn t right to move my family down there and make that sacrifice.
Looking abroad: Spurs (above) made seven foreign signings, while Manchester City (below) made five
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