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    Sporting Lives

    Posted by twilight time on

    The 2015 NFL preseason is in full swing and four recent Twilight Time releases from England, Australia at the U.S. offer unique takes on both the dark and light sides of sports fandom and fanaticism. Colin Firth and Mark Strong head the cast of Fever Pitch (1997), adapted from his own autobiographical book by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) about the desperate balancing act a diehard fan of England’s legendary Arsenal Football Club (read soccer) must navigate between his budding romantic relationship (after many a failed one) and his passionate devotion to his team. The romance – if you can call it that – in The Firm (2009), a powerful remake by writer-director Nick Love of Alan Clarke’s touchstone 1989 telefilm, is of the darker variety, that of a teenager who idolizes the head of the West Ham United football firm (soccer team), a reckless bully-boy whose hooligan-like team leadership leads to devastating results. Calum McNab and Paul Anderson play acolyte and mentor in this powerful slice of life that has its roots in Britain’s specialty Angry Young Man tradition. Another sports-movie tradition is rooting for the underdog, and there’s no better collection of oddball underdogs than those competing in Save Your Legs! (2012), a shaggy Australian lark – based on a true story – of a ragtag cricket team that travels to India for a disastrous competitive tour, testing friendships, confronting fears – and finally going with the flow.One Downunder reviewer referred to it as “a feel-good Australian comedy that knocks it into the stands.” The adjective “feel-good” is the essence of the American contribution to this bunch: Breaking Away (1979), in which director Peter Yates and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Steve Tesich weave a sensitive and exhilarating tale of four best friends (Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley) from a small Indiana town who achieve a renewed sense of hope and prospects for better lives through a final competitive bicycling race that will – guaranteed – have you leaping out of your lounge chair. All four films have great and insightful audio commentaries worth cheering about (particularly the one on Breaking Away featuring Christopher). Great sports movies are always in season.