The football movie has never been the most spot-on of sub-genres. But can Ally McCoist and Robert Duvall save it with A SHOT AT GLORY? Words: James Smart
curious thing is happening in cinemas all
around us. Mike Bassetf: Eng/and Manager is
joined this month by A 5/10! A! Glory. with Vinnie Jones' Mean Mae/zine firing in soon. This volley of football films shouldn‘t obscure the fact that footie and film are two forms of mass entertainment that have rarely mixed well.
Escape To Victory was engaging enough. in a suspend-your-disbelief—completely sort of way. Sean Bean's When Saturday Comes. meanwhile. was dreadful. Others tend to avoid action on the field: Fever Pitch set one man's fascination for football against the pressures of the adult world.
Unlike. say. wolf (Tin Cap) or American football (Any Given Sunday). which are by their very nature bitty sports. with shots or plays that can be captured in a single take. the vitality of football is its ebb and flow. the sustained nature of attack and counter-attack. It is in their failure to accurately portray this. and the difficulties of making tackles look really brutal in such a context. that so many films fall down.
A Shot At Glory charts the heroic cup run of
Kilnockie. a Second Division club from the North East of Scotland owned. bizarrely enough. by Michael Keaton and managed. still more surreally. by Robert Duvall. Keaton plays Peter Cameron. a wealthy American who threatens to move the team to Dublin (shades of Wimbledon here) unless his underdogs can win the cup.
Duvall. in a role that takes him about as far away from Colonel ‘Charley don‘t surf‘ Kilgore as it's possible to get. dons a flat cap. adopts a Scottish accent. and says things like ‘he‘s a fucking heidcase‘ in his role as Gordon McLeod. His squad is both
disrupted and enriched by the arrival of ex-Celtic star
Robert Duvall adopts a Scottish accent, and says things like ‘he’s a fucking heidcase’
Jackie McQuillan (played by ex-Rangers star Ally McCoist).
Such casting is key to A Shot At Glnry’s attempts to make football look good on the big screen. with McCoist being joined on the pitch by the likes of Owen Coyle. Andy Smith and Claudio Reyna. The producers shot the match action using Worldmark — the same crew that shoots World Cup games — and employed the likes ofAndy Gray to commentate.
Inevitably. the tackling on McCoist looks like it's done by actors who don‘t want to injure their leading man rather than by bruisers who want both ball and player. and the easily staged staples of penalties and corners often take centre stage. But at times there is a real fluency to the action. and the players look genuinely comfortable with the ball at their feet; there are no shots of Michael Caine‘s head and someone else‘s feet here.
The off-pitch action is just as vital to any football film. A mainstream movie needs closure. and you can‘t get that from football. because there‘s always another season. Hence the preponderance of sub-plots involving rocky relationships. in which There 's Only One Jimmy Grim/)le takes the biscuit. uniting mother and son as well as two sets of boyfriends and girlfriends in its cup-winning finale.
Here. director Michael Corrente (American Buffalo) juggles a series of crises. McQuillan. as well as ruining his career through drink. has lost his wife Katie (Kirsty Mitchell) because of his promiscuous womanising (timing. eh‘.’). Katie also happens to be McLeod‘s daughter. who never approved of their marriage in the first place (Katie is a Protestant. McQuillan a Catholic). As Kilnockie battle past the likes of Queen of the South and Kilmarnock. these tensions. as well as McLeod‘s hatred for Rangers manager Martin Smith (Brian Cox). come to a head.
Inevitably. the film‘s treatment of weighty topics like sectarianism is relatively skin-deep. but as big screen treatments of the big match go. A Shot At Glory is an honourable chapter in an otherwise diabolical book.
A Shot At Glory opens Fri 12 Oct. See review, page 27.
Lights, camera, action . . .
IF YOU PAIRED HOT superstar Angelina Jolie with hot superstar Antonio Banderas in a steamy romantic thriller called Original Sin and then released it to slavering audiences. you think you'd see coverage of it everywhere. While you will see ‘picture-lead' interview pieces with Angelina and Antonio in glossy mags. you‘re unlikely to find reviews of the film itself (as is the case with this magazine). Furthermore. Rough cuts suspects when the film is eventually thrust into the warm interior of VCRs. the box it's been removed from won't be plastered with press quotes. Instead. they'll be a solitary tabloid quote along the lines. 'Antonio simmers. Angelina sizzles!‘
Roagh cuts is saying that Original Sin is likely to be Crap. and that in anticipating this response from the press, 20th Century Fox has decided not to screen the film to critics. Possibly there's some other reason. So you get no review of the film. Except Fox still gets coverage — though no well thought through scathing remarks — because Original Sin boasts two Hollywood stars whom many find very attractive. Thus the press will still run saucy pictures — it's true. see below.
Perhaps you should make a decision whether or not to spend money on Original Sin (though you might be better off spending money on sinning in an original manner. at home. with a loved one. Stranger. or all by yOurself) based solely on the contents of the image at the bottom of this column. In fact. in this Age of Information seeing a film in an unenlightened state might make for a refreshing change.
Do you want to see this ﬁlm?
YET YOU’D STILL BE BETTER off checking out Iain Macdonald’s marvellous short film Exposure, playing with Battle Royale at The Cameo.
.1-18 Oct 2001 THE LIST 25