Eleven football films that aren't what they seem...
To celebrate Euro 2008, Time Out offers its failsafe guide to films that you might think were football related, but most certainly aren't
1. The Keeper (1995)It’s doubtful that the yanks bestow the trusty goalie with the fond Brit epithet of ‘keeper – it’s probably something like ‘goal defence’, ‘gloveman’ or ‘back-end human save shield’. Here, Joe ‘The Killing Zone’ Brewster directs perpetual underachiever Giancarlo Esposito in 1995’s ‘The Keeper’, and true to aforementioned quasi-theory, it has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the onion bag. He’s a depressed prison guard.
2. The Defender (2004)There had to be one Dolph Lundgren film up in this round up, seeing as much of his oeuvre could be mistaken for a football film (see also ‘The Shooter’, ‘Top Corner’ and, eh, ‘Indirect Free Kick’). As the titular Defender, Dolph single-handedly attempts to win the war on terror with the help of a Harrier Jump Jet, two mega-tonnes of expired crème fraiche and a talking greyhound called Lenny.
3. Sphere (1998)What Pelé used to refer to as ‘that round bastard’, the ball is what it’s all about. Barry Levinson’s loopy underwater sci-fi hybrid similarly reveres its titular orb as the universal symbol of perfection and the summary depository of all of mankind’s hopes and dreams. Unfortunately in this case it’s not one you can boot around in the car park, but an implacable time-travelling barometer of inherent human weakness.
4. Das Boot (1981)The absence of The Predator Mk IV and Lukas Podolski’s left foot will baffle stick-in-the-mud monolinguists who don’t know that ‘boot’ is actually German for ‘boat’. The vessel in question is WW II German submarine U-96, crewed by a crack team of unshaven, weeping drunks who zig-zag their way across the Atlantic and into the Med for a tear-up with the Royal Navy. A song of youthful heroism that remains compelling well into extra time.
5. The Net (1995)And stop right there. There’s a woman in this film? And not just any woman, it’s Sandra Bullock looking like she’s dashing somewhere. Somewhere rainy and floodlit. Could it be into the 18-yard box in the dying seconds of a crucial third-round cup-tie at Turf Moore? Sadly, no. She’s running away from a couple of drones in suits who stole her identity when she was trying to download iffy Wings albums off of Limewire.
6. The Score (2001)With the three-pronged threat of Edward Norton’s technical ability, De Niro’s strike rate and Marlon Brando as target-man, the net of Frank Oz’s heist caper should be bulging. But none of them, alas, could be said to be much of a team player and they are soon trying to outdo each other with a smorgasbord of actorly tics and tricks that results in a terminally stifling Mexican standoff. Nil-nil.
7. The Whistle Blower (1987)Or the term used when the word ‘referee’ momentarily eludes you. Yes, Michael Caine is the gentleman spy who blows full time on the British Secret Service by spilling some of their darker secrets to the press. Of course, blabbing to the tabloids is now a staple of the beautiful game - especially following the latest team-bonding Algarve getaway which usually ends in some nasty scene involving a harem of oiled dolly birds, a litre of tepid Cristal and a violently-horny back four.
8. Wings of Desire (1987)Not, it swiftly transpires, a paean to the widemen of the Portuguese midfield, Wim Wenders’ moody black and white effort is a baffling slice of art-house folly starring Columbo and Nick Cave. The wings in question belong to a couple of po-faced angels who mooch around the bleak splendour of West Berlin talking about their petty insecurities and hapless love lives. A bit like a gloomy ‘Seinfeld’.
9. Foul Play (1978)Dudley Moore gets his first run-out for Hollywood FC as a lecherous orchestra conductor who’s unashamedly dirty up front, and Goldie Hawn uncovers a plot to kill The Pope through sheer wide-eyed perkiness. Fellow debutante Chevy Chase’s journeyman turn led to a role in 'Oh Heavenly Dog' but Dudley was Man Of The Match, scoring '10' to replace George Segal as Bo Derek’s diminutive flesh puppet.
10. Contact (1997)While having nothing to do with shoulder-charging, shirt-pulling or scrotum-squeezing, Robert Zemeckis’s intriguing think-piece on cosmic correspondence eventually goes down under the weight of its own ponderousness. Jodie Foster is the eager-to-believe astronomer who receives coded schematics for a machine that will propel her to an alien world. Curiously, once unravelled, these blueprints outline a contraption that, when set in motion, spins so fast it forms a perfectly spherical orb…
11. Shoot Out (1971)Any spot-kick hero knows that sporadic brilliance can be enough to make a career, as director Henry Hathaway demonstrated with gems like The Sons Of Katie Elder and True Grit. Here, there’s an intriguing pre-figuring of Leon in the relationship between Gregory Peck’s weary gun-slinger and the young girl who attaches herself to him but saintly Peck in the hardman position is hard to swallow and this Cannoniero ends up squarely in row Z.SUBS
The Substitute (1996)Not to be confused with fellow second-stringer Jim Belushi’s 1987 trawl through the jungle of inner-city learning, ‘The Principal’, this schizo Tom Berenger vehicle sees a hardened mercenary going undercover in a drug-riddled Miami High School. In neither film – nor in ‘187’ or ‘Dangerous Minds’ – do we see pupils standing in their shorts in freezing rain hoping that a dirty, wet leather football comes nowhere near them. Deprived of such character building stuff, is it any wonder these kids turn to the chronic?
We Dive At Dawn (1943)The David Fairclough of sub movies plays out the familiar story of Englishmen joylessly plugging away at the Germans to little avail, ending up short of breath and let down by poor finishing. Captain John Mills marshals his men in the hunt for the battleship Brandenburg, remaining chipper in the face of working class ribaldry and disappointing anyone hoping for that long-awaited doc on Michael Owen’s morning training regime.
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006)A couple of prize-winning art-plonkers, a Scottish shoegaze band and an over-the-hill French-Algerian grouch doesn’t sound like the recipe for a great football film. It isn’t.
Author: Adam Lee Davies, Paul Fairclough, David Jenkins
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’