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the damned united

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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Management consultancy

By Hammers, Literature, Sport

If I could have anoth­er life to live, sim­ul­tan­eous with my own, I would prob­ably spend most of it play­ing Sports Interactive’s Football Manager (aka Championship Manager). While I tend to scoff at those who get excited at Beatles Rock Bands and am baffled but impressed by those who take games ser­i­ously, I can­not deny my achilles heel and so every year I down­load the demo of the latest ver­sion and then force myself to not buy the full game in order to stay sane.

The 2009 ver­sion intro­duced half-time and full-time team talks, allow­ing you to gee-up or dress-down your team depend­ing on your psy­cho­logy, theirs, and the state of the match. Motivational options included “Show your dis­ap­point­ment at the team” or “Tell your play­ers to do this for the sup­port­ers” and you could single play­ers out for cri­ti­cism or praise (“Tell Cole that you are delighted with him”).

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