Wednesday, 23 December 2009
MY TOP TEN BLU-RAYS OF 2009: Part One: THE DAMNED UNITED
Although I've been unable to buy many Blu-ray releases this year, I've had a great time renting various titles and remain thankful that my wife managed to win a Blu-ray player in a competition. While there remains a good many titles that I've been unable to see, I count myself very fortunate to have been able to enjoy some stunning transfers.
Over the course of the next week or so, I'll be blogging on my own top ten Blu-rays of 2009. Of course, I'll be very pleased to read everyone's selections in the comments box.
So, to kick things off, here's my opening choice.
10/ THE DAMNED UNITED.
Having been a Derby fan since 1968, the events and characters in Tom Hooper's film took me a trip down memory lane. When Brian Clough and Peter Taylor arrived at Derby County, the club was well and truly in the doldrums and no-one would have believed that just a few years later The Rams would be proudly sitting on top of the league above such famous names as Liverpool, Spurs and... Leeds United.
Derby and Leeds had a fierce rivalry between players, fans and management, so it was like a bolt from the blue when Brian Clough took the manager's job at Elland Road after all he had said about the Yorkshire club. Cloughie's infamous stint at Leeds is well chronicled here, along with his clashes with Derby chairman Sam Longson who quickly became the most hated man in the city for the part he played in Clough and Taylor's departure.
Hooper's film is a pleasure to sit through, for its grasp of the events, mood and motivation of an amazing period in English football. Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall are both excellent as the dream team in this winning partnership - Taylor brilliant at identifying the players needed, with BC getting them to play - and Jim Broadbent (Longson) and Colm Meaney (possibly 'Man Of The Match' for his portrayal of Don Revie)both excel. That Clough didn't succeed at Leeds boils down to two things: the absence of Peter Taylor, and the fact that the Leeds players were determined his tenure would be short and fruitless.
This Blu-ray release treats us to a beautiful transfer, together with a quartet of featurettes and some deleted scenes. My thanks to all concerned for bringing this absorbing tale back to life.