Friday, 28 June 2013

Le Tournoi, 1997

Read an interesting nostalgia piece in the Guardian yesterday about Le Tournoi, 1997. Remember it? The forerunner of the Confederations Cup? Staged in France as a rehearsal for the following year's World Cup? It featured France, Brazil, Italy and England. And, bloody hell, England won it!

Look at the youtube footage of England beating Italy 2-0 and it makes you realise just how dynamite Paul Scholes was. Interesting that when Scholes retired (the first time) a couple of years back, the leading Spanish and Italian players all came out and declared him to be the greatest English player of his generation.

How come no England national manager recognised this? I find it utterly mystifying that he was never used as the linchpin around which the England team revolved, a succession of coaches preferring the more media-assured Gerrard, Lampard and (yawn) Beckham. Sven played Scholes on the left wing. Two successful European Cup campaigns, multiple Premierships and assorted Cups for Manchester United, all with Scholes as the fulcrum. Did no one notice? Alex Ferguson was no mug. So missed was Scholes, they had to bring him back.

I also felt sorry for coach, Glenn Hoddle, dismissed for remarks in a phone interview that were never recorded or substantiated. Unpicking someone's religious beliefs all boils down to a nonsensical debate about angels dancing on a pinhead. Would the FA ban Catholic players because of their belief in Original Sin? Utter nonsense.

Look at the England squad then. Look at England now. Quite sad really. If there's a self-destruct button, be sure the FA will always push it.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Man Of Steel

A question. What is the essence of Superman? His speeding-bullet velocity, his ability to leap tall buildings at a single bound? 

No. The core joy of Superman is the Clark Kent story — that of the mild-mannered reporter who must keep his talents and identity hidden, a tad problematic with regard to his pursuit of the ballsy Lois Lane, of course, whom he can only woo through his alter-ego.

Another question. What is fundamentally wrong with the god-awful Man Of Steel? It has no Clark Kent story. Not as such. Only at the very end when — SPOILER ALERT — after having just saved humanity and had his true identity broadcast to the entire universe, Clark Kent goes and gets a job undercover at the Daily Planet (sequel, blah blah blah). UNDER HIS OWN NAME!

There are logic glitches aplenty in Man Of Steel, but that's not the problem. Too cool is it to even utter the word "Superman" — the "S" on the suit is some Krypton peace symbol — so leaden with earnestness, it has left every last shred of wit and humanity in the phone booth. Not that there are any phone booths in this miserable grey cadaver of a movie. (Lois Lane is now a Pulitzer prize-winning war reporter-cum-mystifying paramilitary airborne bomb-arming specialist.) 

Superman is the granddaddy of superheroes, the rock from which they are all hewn.  A Christian parable too (co-created, paradoxically, by Jews) — cosmic being gives up only son; boy of extraordinary gifts is raised by humble adoptive parents till it is time to become the Saviour. In this film they've stated it more explicitly, it being mentioned more than once that Clark Kent is 33. Indeed, Superman forgoes seeking truth and justice (the American way) for an (entirely incomprehensible) cataclysmic power struggle with a galactic Devil, one bent on obliterating Son of Man.

But really, who cares? I tell you now, I've had it with "re-inventions" and "re-imaginings" and "re-boots" and "re-awakenings" and "origin stories" and "creation myths" and "post modern" spins. Let's speak a truth — this movie, the entire second half of it, is nothing but a CGI explosionfest, a cartoon, a video game, yet another Hollywood spin on "blow shit up".

At the screening I went to, Man Of Steel was preceded by a trailer for Pacific Rim, a "film" about earth being attacked by space monsters and defended by giant robots. God, please no! People, I appeal to you — how many times can you sit there with your silly 3D glasses on and watch major cities being napalm-fucked by aliens? (And there's another Godzilla on the way.) Me? I cannot take it any more. ENOUGH!

I always regarded Superman (1978), starring Christopher Reeve, as an enjoyable romp. Compared to Man Of Steel it is a work of genius.