David Peace’s justly acclaimed novel The Damned United allowed us to see the world from the tormented perspective of football manager Brian Clough during his 44 turbulent days in charge of Leeds United in 1974. Paranoid, vengeful, fear-ridden, depressive and alcoholic, this Clough emerged as a man in emotional meltdown.

This film version, directed by Tom Hooper (television dramas Longford and John Adams) and scripted by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), and with Michael Sheen in the lead role, is a broadly entertaining if highly sanitised adaptation.

Cutting between Clough’s disastrous experiences at Leeds, having taken over from Don Revie who had accepted the England job, and his earlier success and downfall at Derby County, the screenplay picks out two key relationships. There’s his obsessive loathing of Don Revie (Colm Meaney) and the latter’s cynical gamesmanship: Clough even orders his players at Leeds to chuck their medals in the dustbin, because he claims they’ve been acquired by cheating. And there’s Clough's emotionally charged partnership with his assistant Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall), who significantly doesn’t accompany him to Elland Road.

The filmmakers also stress the importance to Clough of his own mediated image - this at a time when football wasn’t subject to wall-to- wall television coverage - yet The Damned United, clearly made on a restricted budget, might be better suited to small screen viewing. Sheen’s performance embodies the film’s strengths and weaknesses: he looks and sounds like Clough, and he captures the arrogance, quuaciousness, and sharp humour of Old Big Head, but what’s missing is the compelling intensity provided by Peace’s vision. (Tom Dawson)

I General release from Fri 27 Mar. See feature, page 22.


48 THE LIST 19 Mar—2 Apr 2009

I General release from Fri 27 Mar.


(15) 90min ”0

The spectre of Columbine-style school Shootings is something most filmmakers have understandably shied away from on grounds of taste. With the exception of Gus van Sant's laudably matter-of-fact Elephant. Followmg on from his House of Sand and Fog. director Vadim Perelman's adaptation of Laura Kasischke's novel approaches its target warily, using a complex non-linear structure which snakes back and forward from a central scene in which a group of girls are trapped in a school toilet while the killer advances towards them. While one set of flashbacks explores the life of high schooler Diana McFee (Evan Rachel Wood) and her relationship With fellow captive Maureen (Eva Amurri), a separate set of flash- forwards reveal the grown-up Diana (Uma Thurman) experiencing ripples of disturbance twenty years after her actions that day. While The Life Before Her Eyes is imaginatively constructed and does prowde a fairly absorbing watch, the manipulative plotlines in screenwriter Emil Stern‘s script only obSCure the true nature of the tragedy. (Eddie HarriSOn)

The little man returns to take on The Man in this solid and movmg account of much sinned against inventor Bob Kearns' attempts to be recognised for his most famous invention.

Detroit, Michigan, 1964 and Irish American college lecturer and part time inventor Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear) has invented and patented a device that allows windscreen wipers to be time spaced. Living wrth his large family in the then most successful car manufacturing City in the world. it's not long before Ford comes knocking. But do these corporate devils have Kearns and his brood's best interests at heart?

Taking its place next to Coppola's 1988 Tucker: The Man and His Dream in a slim canon of films about the evils of the Big Three US automobile manufacturers. Flash of Genius is a decent investigation of corporate greed and appropriation and the genius of invention.

With very good period detail and excellent performances from all involved Flash of Genius is undone by producer-turned-director Marc Abraham's frequently sloppy direction and cinematographer Dante Spinotti's unnecessary experiments in soft focus. Philip Railsback lengthy. indulgent script (based on a newspaper article by John Seabrook) could also have done with having bolt cutters taken to it. (Paul Dale)

I General release from Fri 27 Mar.


Barry Lyndon (PG) 187min 0.... Kubrick's epic adaptation Of VVilliClln Makepeace Thackerx 's picaresdue novel aDOut the attempts of an Irish upstart to become a member of the English aristocracy in the 18th century reemerges for re- evaluation on a beautiful, fully restored print. Dismissed by many on its original release as slow, boring and overly concerned wrth period detail, the film now looks like one of Kubrick's greatest

achievements. It's a stunning, sumptuous and sustained meditation On man's ultimate

powerlessness. Fi/nilmuse, Edinburgh, Fri 20— Tliu 26 Mar Knowing (15) 121 min

.0 Another year. another incredibly silly Nic Cage thriller. This one has him as a maths teacher who discovers that a recently unearthed sheet of paper (With numbers on itl holds predictions of many upcoming disasters. It's a nice idea that fuses Cage box office success National Treasure and its seguel (Without the camp humour though) to soriiething more Suggestive and creepy like the exemplary Final Destination horrors. Unfortunately, neither director Alex /, Robot Proyas or the many credited screenwriters are up to the task, and what could have been as sophisticated a dialectic on immovable forces and fate as. say, M Night Shyamalan's 2000 film Unbreakable quickly descends into bad CGI set-ups and portentous, hysterical exchanges. Selected release. from Wed 25 Mar.

The Haunting in Connecticut (15) 102min COO Solidly made. watchable horror based. allegedly, on real events in the tradition of The ExorCist and The Amityw/le Horror. When a family moves to a new suburban house, their son becomes a target for the undead. With the reduiSite number of spooks. chills and Jumps this won’t disappOint but you may have forgotten all ab0ut it Within ten minutes of leaVing the cinema. General release, Fri 27 Mar.

Better Things (15) 93min ”0. The Dardennes brothers meet Mike Leigh in Brit writer/director Duane Hopkins excellent feature debut about drugs and doomed lives in the Cotswolds. This film has already shown in Glasgow but now has a short Edinburgh run before gomg to DVD. Read full reView at www.|ist.co.uk Fi/mhouse. Edinburgh, Tue 37 Mar— Thu 2 Apr.