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Underneath the Arch

Much has been made about the FA Cup being marginalised this season due to the venue of the semi-finals, and the particularly bizarre kick-off time of the second semi between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea yesterday. But until 1989 the semi-finals kicked-off at 3pm on Saturdays, the same time as other League games, and with no live television coverage.

The events at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 were heard in intermittent reports on BBC Radio 2 Medium Wave and on breaking news on Grandstand by people tuning to hear updates about a big match. That day the complacency and arrogance of ignoring the previous incidents at the Leppings Lane end in 1981 FA Cup Semi-Final cost 96 lives, and was compounded by lies, denials and “misplaced evidence” by the police, and smears by News International’s The Sun.

Last summer shed a light on later collusions between News International and police forces, but evidence of how their earlier propaganda worked was heard from large pockets of Chelsea fans around Wembley yesterday, who disrespected the “moments silence” for the Hillsborough victims and Piermario Morosini, who lost his life on Saturday while playing for Livorno. The apt response from Tottenham fans, who booed the Chelsea fans and were united in calling them wankers after the referee gave up on the Silence, was the real human element that the organizers at Wembley, who try to manufacturer atmosphere, could never dream of capturing. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s March 2012 Film Round-up

The Hunger Games and a BFI re-issue were highlights in a month full of releases.

March is usually an interesting month for cinema patrons looking for a certain kind of film. Awards season has come and gone and spring yields mainstream films that were never in with a chance for your consideration as well as independent films at odds with the summer blockbuster crop to come.

Mainstream March included The Hunger Games and This Means War and had a bit of everything – comedy (21 Jump St), a new Aardman (The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!), some 3D spectaculars (John Carter and Wrath Of The Titans), horror (Devil Inside), schmaltzy romcoms (Wanderlust, We Bought A Zoo) and even a gross out teen party movie (Project X).

On the independent side of things, Dexter Fletcher released his directorial debut Wild Bill, some arthouse auteurs returned to our screens such as Jafar Panahi (This Is Not a Film), Werner Herzog (Into The Abyss,), the Dardennes Brothers (The Kid With A Bike) and Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon A Time In Anatolia). Other strong independent fare included Michael, Trishna, Contraband, This Is Not a Film and Tiny Furniture as UK Box Office wise, the influence of 2011’s King’s Speech, Black Swan and Tangled was finally running its course. Continue reading…

The Olympic Park Run

Ten days ago James Dickens was amongst the first thousand people to run on the new athletics track in a public event at the Olympic Stadium, Stratford. He shares his experience as part of The Substantive’s series of writing on the London Olympics.

Back in the dim and distant past (July last year), I entered a ballot to run the 2012 National Lottery Olympic Run. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I run a bit and enter my fair share of races. A few friends had applied and I thought it would be nice to do it together. October came around and low and behold, I received an email saying my application had been successful. I rang my friends and none of them had got a place. It seemed this race was in quite high demand and I had dropped very lucky. Continue reading…

Pressure Drop

Before the weekend Roberto Mancini publicly said that the title race would be over if Manchester United were to beat Queens Park Rangers at home as expected, and Manchester City would then go on to lose at The Emirates later in the day. The look of City’s play suggested their players believed it was fait accompli even before they had kicked-off, with an abject performance that had all the ambition in their approach of a mid-table team with nothing to play for, combined with an indiscipline more befitting a team fighting relegation. City have looked vulnerable to pressure at times this season, and they have recently heaped much of it upon themselves. Continue reading…

Joan Baez, Brighton Dome (26 Mar 2012)

When I walked into the Brighton Dome on Monday night to hear Joan Baez perform the last of her 21-stop tour of the UK, the first thing I noticed was a sofa on the stage. Next to the sofa was a standard lamp and a table with a bowl of daffodils on it – a familiar and homely tableau. At the front of the stage was a microphone with percussion set up to the left and a keyboard and assorted instruments ranged to the right.

What was going to happen? Was Joan Baez going to sit on the sofa and talk to us? Continue reading…

Faro Documents

What makes us go and see the films we see?

For me, the answer to this deceptively simple question is we choose the films we see via the film culture of our times and location. I get a thrill when I think of what a film culture is and the potential it has to help passionate moviegoers on their journey of cinematic discovery.  What is a film culture? In a sense, it’s the circus surrounding the freak-show that is cinema, it’s the dust in the beam of light from the projector – not as essential as the movies themselves but a conduit for a richer movie-going experience. It’s the magazines we read, the blogs we skim over, the stars tweets we reply to in the hope they might recognise us mere mortals. It’s also film clubs and societies, pop-ups or otherwise, cinemas, television and now, whether we like it or not, streaming.

I went to a screening of two rare Ingmar Bergman documentaries at the Lexi Cinema on Sunday night in Kensal Rise, a beautiful boutique one-screener which looks like a converted village hall. The night was hosted by the new collective A Nos Amours. And although I could be wrong, I don’t think the two film-makers behind the new collective, Joanna Hogg (Unrelated, Archipelago) and Adam Roberts, like to stream movies much. Continue reading…

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ahead of Milan hosting Barcelona, Il Capocannoniere profiles Zlatan Ibrahimovic. (Exclusive illustration by Lilly Allen).

“Zlatan. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively have to win the league title, accept no substitutes.”

Of course I’m paraphrasing Samuel L Jackson’s character from Jackie Brown, but you can imagine a number of top coaches in European football would go along with this sentiment. Every season since 2003-04 the team that Zlatan has played for has finished top of their league, one with Ajax, two at Juventus (both subsequently revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal), three at Inter, one in his only season with Barcelona and then last season for Milan. This season Milan lead the way again in Serie A this season and it looks likely that Ibra’s team will finish top for a phenomenal ninth consecutive season. Continue reading…

Euro Football Round-up/CL QF Preview 27 Mar 12

Last Tuesday was a record breaking day for Lionel Messi. Barcelona beat Granada 5-3 at the Nou Camp, as Messi hit a hat-trick to make him Barcelona’s record all time goalscorer. Goals 232, 233 and 234 equalled then beat Cesar Rodriguez’ 57 year old record. Messi continues to break and set new records and standards of excellence every time he steps foot on the pitch. As Madrid only struggled to a 1-1 draw away to relegation threatened Villareal this win also moved Barca to within 6 points of the La Liga leaders. One stat that has gone relatively unmentioned is that whilst Messi was breaking the record, Granada were becoming the first away side to score three at the Nou Camp this season. Continue reading…

Play It

At the moment ITV4 are showing re-runs of their old football highlights flagship, The Big Match, from the second–half of the 1982-83 Season. The ITV programme, produced and broadcast by region, that season had the prime Saturday evening slot with the BBC’s Match of the Day shown on Sunday afternoons. Aside from the nostalgia, it is interesting viewing, a small piece in the game’s history from an English perspective and a thin line on a wallchart we can look back to, to see how the game has progressed.

Not that it’s all change. The clocks go forward, the clocks go back, and Hansen and Lawrenson are still together on our screens nearly thirty seasons later, Martin Tyler commentates on the biggest games in the North and there is still a lack of clarity in the game on the interpretation of the Offside Law and no technology to help and see if the whole of the ball is over the whole of the line. Continue reading…

The Walking Dead II

Season One of The Waking Dead was just six episodes, standard serial length for a drama in the UK but in US Drama terms, the equivalent of an EP. Two fine performances from British actors now plying their trade in the States, Lennie James and Andrew Lincoln, set the scene in an opening episode in 2010 that quickly developed an overriding theme of groups and individuals looking for a safety and security; distant echoes of Steinbeck, despite the setting of a post-apocalyptic zombieland. Continue reading…

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