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muhammad ali

Review: The Damned United, The Final Destination, Red Cliff and A Pain in the Ass

By Cinema, Reviews

Four films are on the agenda this week and only time will tell this early in the sea­son wheth­er they are going to be genu­ine title con­tenders, gritty bat­tle­rs hop­ing for a shot at mid-table obscur­ity or no-hopers doomed to a sea­son of heartache and inev­it­able releg­a­tion. Please excuse the laboured foot­ball meta­phors but the best of this week’s releases is set in the world of 1970s English foot­ball (all fags, booze and Deep Heat) and I let the mud get under my fin­ger­nails a bit.

Based on the 2006 sur­prise hit nov­el by David Peace, The Damned United is about the bizarre 44 days in 1974 when mer­cur­i­al British foot­ball man­ager Brian Clough tried to man­age Leeds United. Opinion is divided about wheth­er the pos­sibly men­tally unbal­anced Clough was actu­ally try­ing to des­troy a team he hated from the inside or wheth­er he had genu­inely let his ambi­tion (and com­pet­it­ive streak) get the bet­ter of his judge­ment. The book suc­cess­fully man­ages to get deep inside the head of a man who is unrav­el­ling under the pres­sure but the film isn’t as ambitious.

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