News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 11th July 2018

On the day of England’s first semi-final in 28 years, we thought we’d have a look at some our favorite sports films since 1966. Sports films create a romantic relatable storyline, featuring scenarios and situations that the audience have often experienced themselves within a sports arena. Sports films often include idyllic sports stars to blur the line between fiction and reality, ensuring that they stay popular for decades to come as they remain nostalgic.

Slapshot (1977) still holds its own when it comes to categorizing great sports films. One of the originals, Slapshot follows Paul Newman as the player-coach of the Charleston Chiefs as he recruits a trio of violent brothers to strike a spark in his team’s season. Like a lot great sports films, the crisis comes in the form of the team’s liquidation or collapse, allowing the narrative to drive towards an inevitable but equally rewarding finale.

Escape To Victory (1981) is one of the most iconic sports films, recruiting the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles to play alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone for a team of prisoners against a German team during WW2. It’s the perfect blend or sport and drama without being too cheesy, yes there’s a last minute goal and a lot of jumping around but the entire backdrop of the movie shows that football really is more than just a game. 

Space Jam (1997) was a staple of a lot of childhoods, and like Escape To Victory involves a mega-star in the form of Michael Jordan to drive the narrative forward and appeal to a wider audience. It’s arguably one of the only sports films that could do with a remake, with modern day basketball greats like Lebron James existing as leader of the sport and a face for basketball in the world, who would seamlessly slot into the iconic role should it be remade. 

Remember The Titans (2000) is slightly different as it purely includes actors as sports stars. Denzel Washington plays the part of an African-American football coach in the 1970s. It comments on race relations within American Football and society itself and is a bit more generic in terms of storyline, with team against the odds and up against adversity to beat the ‘baddies’ – never the less, it’s still a cracking watch.

There’s plenty of other sports films out there too, with more contemporary films like Mean Machine, Longest Yard and Invictus all appealing to those crying out for a competitive spectacle. The film world is due another great sports film, perhaps when England win The World Cup on Sunday after winning tonight? We’ll see.

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 5th July 2018

There’s been a recent influx of scripted and non-scripted shows that focus on friendships. Some shows like Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man chucks two celebrities in an unknown place whereas Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is more subtle and enables memories and nostalgia to drive the narrative forward.  In this weeks blog we’re going to look at what makes quiet friendships so appealing to audiences and how significant ‘small moments’ are to their success.

Lets start with Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, a personal favourite of ours. It’s not really about the fishing though, it’s about two funny blokes discussing the perils of modern life as an aging man. They reminisce about years gone by over small moments like having a drinking or attempting to catch fish, and it’s as genuine as it gets in terms of on-screen comedy. It really unlocks the important things about modern life by talking about fatal illnesses, mortality, food and alcohol – this ultimately separates it from shows of a similar vein. 

Micky Flanagan’s Detour De France is slightly different to Gone Fishing, in the sense it’s a celebrity dragging his ‘non-famous’ mate around with him, rather than having two recognisable comics bouncing off each other. Micky cycles around France with an old friend he met during his days as a decorator, which opens up a whole new sphere in which civilian life mixes with that of a renown comic, giving the audience an opportunity to vicariously connect with the programme on a personal level in order to really relish the small moments of a friendship.

Detour De France and Gone Fishing are certainly un-scripted, there’s no doubt about it. But some on-screen relationships are sensationalised and exaggerated, causing a different portrayal of the on-screen characters and their relationship. Audiences are still baffled as to the extent of reality in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip, which is an idea they play on in the show. They continually have fiery debates about each others careers and life choices.Brydon has revealed that he “would never have such a toxic conversation with a friend.” It’s easier to look at The Trip as more scripted in the sense that they have an agenda of exaggerating certain traits for specific effects, rather than Bob and Paul relishing the opportunity to discuss hilarious anecdotes without the restrictions of fabricated agendas.

Each show has its positives and negatives but one thing’s for sure, audiences can’t get enough of watching friendships flourish in front of their eyes on the small screen.

If you’ve watched both The Trip and Gone Fishing, which do you prefer? If you haven’t seen them yet, what are you waiting for?

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