I am an Anglophile, and I have studied a lot about England and its culture and habits. But, their sports (rugby, cricket, and football (or rather, soccer)) are a mystery to me. This film is about what WE (Americans) call soccer and what THEY (Brits) call football. OK – so I’ve heard of soccer and seen soccer played (well, in movies…) and I know that you cannot touch the ball with your hands – only with your feet. So, when I watched this film, I thought I was prepared for everything I would need to know. Well, I was wrong. The Damned United goes DEEP into the deep recesses of soccer to live and breath the sport. It is a good film. The story is strong. And, not having any idea about the inner-workings of British football did not hinder my enjoyment. The story is based on a real character in British football history…and a real period in their football’s legacy. Brian Clough works his way up the ranks from lowly football manager to a highly successful team manager, finally managing to lead what many in Britain in the 1970s would have considered the finest football team in the country…Leeds United. The problem is, though, that Leeds was always a rival of Brian’s former team…not exactly endearing the Leeds players to him. Can he win them over? Can he gain their trust? I’m assuming most of the population in the UK knew the answers to these questions well before they watched the film. I, on the other hand, did not. So I enjoyed thoroughly finding out what was going to happen next. Part drama, part thriller, all sports film, The Damned United is quite an entertaining flick, whether you’re British, American, a soccer fan, or just enjoy a good movie!

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I didn’t like Leatherheads much the first time I saw it. It’s a sweet film, but it’s uneven. Is it a sports film? Is it a romantic comedy? Is it a screwball comedy? Is it a period piece? Well, it is all three…plus more. Seeing it the first time, I didn’t like that about it. Seeing it a second time, I began to realize that no matter what type of movie it is, it’s a good film in all of its many genres. Clooney plays “Dodge,” an aging pro football player before pro football became what we know it today. Back in the 1920s, it was college football that was the King and pro was college’s illegitimate big brother. Pro games would be successful if they got a hundred or so people to show. College games would pack the stadiums. Unlike today, if you are a college football star, a future in professional football was not a good career move. Dodge took that path. And slowly watches as the other pro teams around him fall to bankruptcy. He sees a college football star, who also happens to be a war hero, as professional football’s last resort…a player who will come in and bring crowds with him. It works, but then it backfires, but then it works. Enter a reporter who is trying to take down said war hero and you have an interesting mix of characters and genres. It’s not the best movie of the year but it’s fun.

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