Friday, 9 January 2009

GREEN STREET REVISITED



My own list of 'away trips to be treated with caution' would include Spurs, Liverpool/Everton, Boro and West Ham: the latter being almost everyone's worst nightmare.American journalist Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) finds himself firmly planted in the Upton Park mayhem when he arrives in England to stay with sister Shannon (Claire Forlani). Buckner's expulsion from Harvard - the result of taking a fall for his coke-addicted room-mate - is, along with his profession, kept secret from brother-in-law Steve(Marc Warren) and Pete (Charlie Hunnam); the self-styled 'top boy' in West Ham's Green Street Elite. Although Buckner receives a mostly hostile reception from this ultra-violent firm, the picture changes when a fierce encounter with Birmingham's mob sees him emerge with credit for standing his ground.As the film proceeds, Buckner gets deeper and deeper into the shadowy world of football violence, gaining respect from all but one of his fellow members: Bover (Leo Gregory) becomes jealous of Buckner's relationship with Pete and travels deep into the territory of the Hammers' biggest rivals, but for what reason?Following on from cult fave THE FOOTBALL FACTORY, Lexi Alexander's GREEN STREET features all the things you want and, possibly, a few that you never expected. Confrontations between rival fans are brutal in the extreme, capturing age-old rivalries with an intensity that will surely strike a chord with all those who played (and still play) the game. Strong stuff indeed, but Green Street also demonstrates that many of the combatants are decent people in everyday life with responsible jobs, solid family backgrounds and firm values regarding the things that really matter. Alexander successfully touches base with all the above, and is equally adept at painting the darker side of human nature where individuals grasp the baton handed down by relatives and friends to engage in organised warfare with likeminded people. Although I still believe the definitive 'Firms' picture has still to be made (maybe Danny Boyle will do the honours?), Green Street is, for now, more than good enough. The involvement of Dougie Brimson (script and production) may raise a few hackles amongst past and present boys, and a few scenes (the Manchester 'off', Shannon's appearance during the climax) are possibly a bit hard to swallow, but this should not detract from a job well done. Wood, Warren, Forlani and Hunnam are all excellent, and do look out for Geoff Bell as Millwall's number one: perhaps the most loathesome Cockney screen villain since Sexy Beast's Don Logan.


23rd March will see the DVD release of the follow up: GREEN STREET 2: STAND YOUR GROUND. While I initially welcomed news of this sequel, reading the synopsis has somewhat diluted my initial enthusiasm.


Following the deadly climax of "Green Street Hooligans," several members of the West Ham firm and numerous members of Millwall end up in jail. The GSE quickly discover the brutality of life on the inside, as they are constant targets of the superior numbers and better-financed Millwall crew. Football on the inside and out is followed fervently by the prisoners and wins and losses by both are quickly followed by punishment or reward. This could mean a beating or an extra shower or a day of visitation, which inspires extreme behavior. When overcrowding compels a need for the early release of a fortunate few, fate brings West Ham and Millwall together again this time on a Pitch. The stakes are the highest they have ever been for all concerned with death or freedom quite literally a goal away. Game on.


Ah well, let's keep an open mind for now. I'll be reviewing this one soon as it hits the racks.

17 comments:

  1. next up green street x where the crew take on millwall cyborgs on alph centuri.

    I was never one to follow the footie myself prefering to watch the local now league side but I knew a few Soul Crew (in fact I was working with the guy who wrote the book of that not so long back).

    So i know there could be an interesting story to tell but you make this sound like a football version of Brubaker or Cool Hand Luke.

    Or maybe a remake of the poridge movie where the cons play the screws?

    Some films should not be made, Then again I wasnt overly convinced by Elijah Wood in the first one.

    have a good weekend.

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  2. Cardiff wasn't a ground I ever visited but saw 'em at close quarters when they came to ours. Read the Soul Crew book, and it reads like a good, honest acccount. I pasted the synopsis and it does sound a bit naff. I admired Wood for appearing in the original and didn't think he was too bad. Maybe a bit out of place, just like his character.
    Funny you mentioned Cardiff as we're there tomorrow.
    Have a good 'un, mate.

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  3. If you don't mind I will gripe a bit about soul crew and similar (i read the 6;57 one too).

    The trouble i find with them books is they are seen through such a prism. I have lived in pompey and cardiff and when fans come there and "do their boozer" as has happened it is a case of those who are into their footie violence just attacking people who happen to be in a pub. I used to incidentally drink in a known 6;57 pub but aside from saturday it was just somewhere to play a bit of pool. I always think these hoolie books overlook these nuances and instead play up minor molehill things into mountains. I wonder if you can recommend any of these books that avoid falling into the traps I mention here- something honest and insider without either some middle class sociology or bigging up little things.

    in terms of the author POV- yes soul crew was pretty fair but it was writing with that (former) hoolie mindset = I had a mates with soul crew who wouldnt go to swansea cos he had a bluebirds tat and a guy I went to a conference in london with hid his cardiff shirt under coat cos of this paranoia when tell the truth 99.9999999% of people in these places dont care what shirt you are wearing.

    I'm still been looking for that authentic hoolie movie- ID was almost cartoonish with the gumbo character and the pub that was like the tittie twister (complete with fire eaters).

    Talking to the mrs we seem to think football factory was the best of the lot.

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  4. Some excellent points, Nigel. I've read more than my fair share of those "We've never been done" books, but there are a few decent accounts knocking around. The Boro 'Frontline' book is worthwhile, as is the 'Blades Business Crew' book. Andy Nicholls' 'Scally' comes over as honest for the most part, though he sometimes forgets that some of us have memories that go way back. Also been told the Shef Wed book tells it like it was, though have yet to read it.
    100% agree re The Football Factory. It's the best to date, though I really must revisit The Firm sometime soon.

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  5. Thanks steve,

    with credit crunch n all I may just start with first book on that list and work through ( a few weeks ago when I had job I'd have ordered the lot).

    A number of years ago btw there was talk of Soul Crew becoming a movie- guess that won't happen now, since nothing seemed to come of that.

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  6. Tell you what, mate. Email your address and I'll be happy to lend 'em to you.
    Yep, think Danny Boyle was going to do the honours on Soul Crew but nothing so far.

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  7. steve kind offer mate, I will decline though. I ll probably be able to pick em up on amazon marketplace. I was talking to Tony about the film (this was about 4 years ago) and there were articles in the press, but as you say nothing yet. My guess is that soul crew the movie is just not going to happen now.

    btw check out the spit on your taste cult film bloggers quiz- monthly league ladder.

    http://spitonyourtaste.blogspot.com/2009/01/movie-blogger-quiz-challenge.html

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  8. No probs, Nigel. Just let me know if marketplace doesn't have what you want.
    Cheers for the quiz link. Had a go earlier and did shit. Good fun, though.

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  9. you didnt do bad on the quiz at all mate, it wsa difficult today. the cult mix catagory btw I picked the topics in that myself - its got all from carry on films to kung fu flicks but the pick and mix days are going to be tough.

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  10. Nice one! I'll have a go in a few mins. Cheers!

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  11. They've been showing GREEN STREET on cable TV 'round these parts so I've ended up watching it a few times as I love watching footie (English, Spanish and Italian) so it was interesting to see a film from the hooligans' POV. I thought that Elijah Wood was a bit miscast. I just can't get past those innocent cartoon big eyes of his and swallow that he becomes a rough 'n' tough guy, but the actor who played Pete was very convincing and it's a shame that the film wasn't told from his POV. Now, that would've made for an interesting film but I guess the casting of Wood probably helped get the film financed in the first place.

    I also liked the use of two well-placed Stone Roses songs -- very nice.

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  12. Hey Steve. As an American, I'm not that familiar with all the happenings with the violence among soccer fans. I know you guys call it football. I've heard of hooligans, but here we don't get to see how bad it is. Is it as bad as it sounds or not?

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  13. agree with J.d above- totally miscast, and that incidentally was enough to ruin this film for me,

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  14. hi - nothing to do with football, but can't find contact details for you.

    i have some info on the BAFTA's for you - can you get in touch please? anna.penney@mcsaatchi.om

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  15. See what you mean re Mr. Wood, JD. Think you're bang on with your comments about telling the story through Pete's point of view. Still, I've seen dozens of guys like Wood who look the quiet innocent type and become bitten by the buzz, going on to become really involved. Bank managers, social workers, teachers... Try to catch The Football Factory, A better film, Id say.
    Keith, the football violence started in the 60s. When I started going, it was mainly boots and fists involving sometimes 2 or 3 thousand at a time. The weapons started appearing, such as knives, baseball bats, hammers etc. The scene has calmed down a lot, due to CCTV, improved police intelligence and banning orders served on firm members which stops them attending games, or going within a certain radius of the football grounds. Yes, it really was bad and things still kick off from time to time.

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  16. Thanks for the tip on THE FOOTBALL FACTORY. I will definitely check it out.

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  17. Cheers, JD. There's a new film due out in March titled Away Days which is supposed to be top-notch.

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