Cinema Shows Week 14: The Damned United, 6th April 2009 and The Boat That Rocked, 8th April 2009, Odeon Freemans Park, Leicester

Total Ticket Outlay (on 11 British feature films released in 2009) – £42.35



Two visits to the Odeon Freemans Park this week. A pair of films about, I guess, now historical popular culture – football in the 1970s and pop music in the 1960s. Only 5 0r 6 people in the cinema to see The Damend United. These late afternoon/early evening sessions can feel quite lonely in such large thetares. Saw The Boat That Rocked on ‘Orange Wednesday’, so busier and half-price tickets. And a different audience for once – perhaps 20-30 people, in family and frienship groups – quite unusual. A ‘Richard Curtis’ factor?

I have a personal interest in The Damned United since it is on my home ground of West Yorkshire. As a child and young adult I lived in Gawthorpe a village, near the town of Ossett, next to the city of Leeds. Ossett is the birth place of David Peace, the author of the novel on which the film is based. Peace is about 10 years younger than me, but we went to the same secondary (Batley Grammar School).

I didn’t like Leeds United as a child – I thought they were cocky and glamourous – I liked underdogs, and went occasionally to rugby league (Dewsbury, Wakefiled Trinity). Clearly the film is an appeasement to the family of Brian Clough – much lighter than the novel. Without finding the cinematic equivalent of Peace’s dark narrative and repetitive prose style, the film is pleasant enough. Interestingly I came away thinking about Don Revie more than Clough. I wanted to go away and look at his England record for instance. As much as the film is about what happened next to Brian Clough, it also gets us to think about what became of Revie who with hindsight had peaked with his blessed celebrity hard nuts at LUFC – he did OK, but failed to qualify for a major tournament:




The Boat That Rocked experience has to be one of the low points so far, perhaps even worse than Lesbian Vampire Killers. Leaving was a relief. As an ensemble of sex-obsessed young men (and token lesbian) this crowd could have been in any context – workers at a supermarket or whatever. At least The Damned United was a satisfying celebration of ‘the best manager England never had’, but The Boat That Rocked‘s celebration of the importance of recorded music was a nightmare – those dreadful cutaways of teenagers listening to pirate radio under the bedclothes and people in a state of wild abandon. Yuk!


Let’s dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues
Let’s dance, to the song they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway, while colour lights up your face
Let’s sway, sway through the crowd to an empty space
(‘Let’s Dance’, David Bowie)


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