When Barney Rubble Came To Town!

It’s not every day that you get a chance to enjoy an evening with a two-time European Cup winner.  Not just a two time winner, but the man who scored the decisive penalty in Rome during 1984.  And the same man who netted the winner in Paris all the way back in 1981 for Liverpool’s third European Cup win.  Talk about scoring vital goals.  Yep, we are talking about Alan Kennedy here. A tireless left back who owned the left back position and chipped in with no less than 20 goals during his 8 season spell on Merseyside.

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Born and raised in Sunderland, “Barney Rubble” as he is sometimes affectionately referred to, lobbed into Brisbane just over a week ago to share his many stories of life as a professional footballer.  Kennedy played during an era when having a personality was par for the course.  A time when managers were given time to build something special and an era when the European Cup was contested by Champions or their respective countries and not just a cash cow for fourth place finishers scrambling for TV money.

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I’d heard that Alan was a bit of a card when giving public talks.  Hell, I shared a car ride with him to Hull in December 2013 when the red men went down 3-1 to the home side and even then his dry humor was ever present on the way home.  I guess he’s just naturally gifted at telling a good yarn or few?  Anyway, I’d bought a ticket for me old pall Joe (another life long red) to join me for the night with which included incredibly humid surrounds (the venue’s air con had bombed out earlier in the day), some cold beer (a staple of any night like this) and almost three hours of laughs.

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From the moment Alan made his way onto the stage, he was into it.  A no holds bar and often frank account of his career from day dot all the way through to the end of his playing days and then some great thoughts on modern football as a whole. This is what I find fascinating about these nights.  Hearing how life was back then compared to now.  It does make one wonder how many of today’s players would have coped during a period when you weren’t continually wrapped firmly in cotton wool or coached on how to answer questions posed by journalists.

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So how was the talk I hear you ask?  He pretty much had us at “hello”!  The stories started with his upbringing in Sunderland before moving onto life as a Newcastle player then onto his incredible phone box story when Liverpool wanted to sign him from Newcastle in 1978 (he’d been a Newcastle player for no less than six seasons by now), his cheeky account of why Liverpool conceded 4 goals at Anfield during the 1978-79 season, Alan Hanson’s incredible warm up routine (or lack of) and Joe Fagon’s hilarious ways to chose penalty takers during a shoot out in a European Cup final.  Mind, there was so much more in between all that but I can’t spoil it all for you now can I?  Either way, we were in stitches for the entire evening.

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I’ve had the pleasure now of being entertained by talks from Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, David Fairclough, David Johson, Craig Johnston, John Aldridge, Louis Garcia, Didi Hamann, Vlady Smicer and Ray Clemance.  They all bring something special to the table though Alan Kennedy for me, has joined John Aldridge and Robbie Fowler at the top of the tree when it comes to entertaining a crowd.  An evening with Alan Kennedy is an evening not to be missed.  I must pass on a special thank to the Liverpool FC official supporters club in Queensland for making this night happen.  A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes to bring these truly wonderful players out to Australia and other countries so we should be eternally grateful The next time an event as good as this pops up, don’t let it pass you by!

 

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When The Bromley Boy Ventures Out

Author, Dave Roberts has played a hefty role in my life over recent years. His literary offerings have struck quite the chord and left me full of inspiration and a desire to keep going the way I have for almost 20 years of my life and counting. He’s also showered me with a new found love of non-league football. In particular, Bromley FC!

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why “Home And Away” is such an incredible read.

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For starters, we see a lot of ourselves in Mr Roberts. Think booking train tickets in advance to save those precious pennies. Travelling halfway across England to watch your team only to about face once the full time whistle calls an end to proceedings and do it all again to make it home at some ungodly hour or the night or worse still, early morning the next day. Taking a packed lunch for the journey there. Meeting like minded new friends who understand you as much as you do them. Standing in dross weather to watch your team play poorly despite thinking they were actually a chance. Convincing your significant other that gallivanting around for your football team is an essential aspect of ones weekend. And don’t even get me started on programme sellers running out of stock by the time you get to the ground.  Hands up if you have ever been through that frustration?

I digress.

The 2015/16 season was indeed one where Bromley FC delivered a roller coaster ride for all those concerned. Led by a man called Moses, the National League side scaled dizzy heights early on in the season before a winter slump saw them drop to the mid table quagmire and that’s pretty much where they remained until seasons end.  As a side note, Bromley FC currently sit just outside the play off positions in the National League so League 2 may yet be on the cards after all.  Well, my fingers are crossed for it.

“Home And Away” covers all aspects of what football supporters go through.  We find our man about town (or England and Wales to be more accurate) mixing in with Guiseley FC (a team from West Yorkshire) fans on a supporters bus to Hayes Lane (Dave lives in Leeds, you see) and then we see the more humble side as the sudden passing of his inspirational father, leaves Dave reflecting on the life that has been and of what is yet to come.   “Home And Away” also has plenty in-between to not just wet the appetite, but drench it in the finest memories.  You actually find yourself wishing you had been there with him on some of these journeys.  You can take the boy of of Bromley but you will never be able to take Bromley out of the boy!

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I found Dave’s efforts to expose Liz (the beautiful and loving American wife) to the pleasures of football quite splendid.  Who said romance and football can’t mix right?  Many of us have been there before and will no doubt, be there again when it comes to convincing our significant other as to why a trip to some far flung and remote town to watch a football match is the way to go on a frosty weekend of sleet and wind.  The bases are almost always covered when Liz and Dave head off together despite some comical flaws in booking taxis and Dave’s dislike of climbing steep hills en route to football grounds.  It’s during these moments when I pause my reading to think about similar adventures in the future with my other half.  Thankfully, my other half is English and a bit of a Forrest fan (born and raised in Lincolnshire) so I suspect we may enjoy some boss trips around Blighty when the time comes to move over there down the track.

Reading “Home And Away” reminds you of exactly why you fell in love with football to begin with all those years ago.  Even those who aren’t too partial to the beautiful game will enjoy the tales of a man who had returned home following an absence of 30 years living abroad as you are given a fantastic insight into how England has changed (rip off Britain) and a swift reminder of why Britain is still one of the most beautiful countries to explore on planet earth.  And how on earth can you not fall in love with Bromley FC after reading “Home And Away”?

My Night Out With A Dragon!

With the weather still being warm, I found myself looking for something to do on a balmy September evening in 2010.  With not much going on in Liverpool, I decided to cast my net a little wider to see what I could turn up and sure enough, there was indeed a football match on, just over the border in Wales.  Wrexham were hosting Southport and a return train ticket was going to cost my just under 8 quid.  Bargain!

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The train ride down was around an hour and a bit from memory with the ground being a few minutes walk from station.  This gave me time to take a stroll through the town center before kick off.  To be honest, there isn’t much to do in Wrexham.  Once you see the main high street and a couple of pretty churches and the like you are done.  Definitely a city that has seen far better days.  Like the time when Wrexham knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1992 or their third division title from the 1977/78 season.  Ahh, the glory days!

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There are just over 60,000 residents living in Wrexham.  They have cheap beer and they have applied for city status no less than three times, being knocked back on each occasion.  There are also a number of bio-pharmaceutical companies who call Wrexham home.  Surprisingly, you can also find one of the largest Portuguese populations in Wales with over 2,000 migrants calling Wrexham home.  Fascinating hey?  The most recent being 2012.  Still, I was only there for the football so off the Racecourse Ground I went.

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The ground holds around 10,000 hardy souls when full however, tonight, there were just over 2,000 in the ground plus the Dragon mascot who i befriended at half time.  He was a lovely Dragon and even offered me his number and the offer of free accommodation should I feel the need to visit Wrexham for a match again.  To this point, I have not been back and besides, his number got lost on the train ride home after the game.  Lovely fella though.

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As you walk around you the ground, you soon begin to think of days and eras gone by when match day would have seen full houses and half decent players.  Racecourse Ground is your typical traditional football ground with terraces at each end supplemented by two grandstands either side.  As is the case with most of these older grounds, you are right on top of the pitch so you can feel the crunching tackles and smatterings of bodies as players rise for headers.  It’s how football should be watched.

The home side had the run of play and were up in the 27th minute thanks to a tasty finish by Gareth Taylor.  The hardy souls who turned up enjoyed the euphoria of their team taking the lead.  Meanwhile, the few dozen away supporters were less than impressed by their sides lapse in defensive concentration.  Jay Harris put Wrexham up 2-0 in the 41st minute and that’s how it stayed as the teams headed for half time oranges.

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The second half took a while to get moving.  Eventually, a header from Steve Daley in the 63rd minute gave Southport a way back into the game and Wrexham sat back for the final half hour or so and somehow held on for the win despite the constant pressure on their goal mouth.  The locals were heading home happy and luckily for Southport, the journey back home wasn’t too daunting for their supporters either.

My train home was on time and I found myself tucked up in bed before midnight which is always a nice feeling when you take on a midweek match away from home.  For a club formed in 1864, Wrexham have stood their ground well and I hope they enjoy another 154 years of life in the football leagues.  They currently sit 4th in the National League and may be a chance of returning to the football league in the not too distant future.

The Daft Things You Do For Love (of football)!

I knew I was in trouble from the moment I arrived at Waterloo Station having already been on two buses and a trains from Crystal Palace. My booking at Queen’s Hotel in south east London seemed like an idea befitting those of absolute genius however, I failed to take into account the location in relation to transport. So one late bus meant for a series of near misses which led to even further disappointment when I arrived at Waterloo to find my train to Brentford was delayed by some seventy minutes!  I was now faced with the predicament of missing the first half between Brentford and Fulham or just not going and heading back to my hotel.  After all, I had only arrived in London from Australia some 12 hours before and was flying up to Glasgow to watch Celtic early the next morning.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the life of an ambitious football traveller!

Greeted with my series of delays, I decided to push on regardless so stood about in the cold at Waterloo station, jet lagged and weary yet safe in the knowledge I would eventually be in the home end of Brentford FC watching them play somewhat of a London derby.  My only problem remaining was getting over the fact I would miss the first half.  In its entirety! For fuck sakes!  Anyway, what can you do?  For a football fan, this would be akin to taking over from some fella who’s got his leg over a bird and you swing in at the halfway point to take over.  What’s more, imagine not knowing the fella and only kind of knowing the bird in question?  Yep, you get it now don’t you?  But fuck it!

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Griffin Park lays a steady 7 minute walk away from Brentford station.  Mind, on a misty November evening in London, it’s not hard to take the wrong turn and end up down a dead end street.  This is what I did twice, turning my short walk into a run in hope of catching the start of the second half.  The ground is a small one, only taking just over 12,000 supporters before the house full sign goes up.  It’s been the home of Brentford since 1904 and has seen some memorable and not so memorable matches.  Brentford won the old third division followed by the old second division just over 80 years ago.  Not sure many of those folk would still be around the share their stories?

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I should mention here that I had to collect my match ticket before going into Griffin Park.  It’s an easy process if you can find the ticket office however, many small English grounds tend to have these little demount-able ticket offices that always appear impossible to find when you need them in a hurry.  And, of course, the two stewards I asked both had no idea.  Why are they stewards again?  Anyway, I found the place and made my way inside the ground just as the second half kicked off.  The away lot, that’s Fulham were already up 1-0 thanks to a goal from Sone Aluko in the 36th minute.  I know, I know.  Who the fuck is Sone Aluko you ask?  He’s a Nigerian international who now plays for Reading in the Championship.  He’s also played for Birmingham and Hull so he’s a bit shit really.  Anyway.  Moving on.

Moving on is exactly what the game didn’t do.  It was a Sky TV Friday night match and the second half was a cagey affair with neither side wanting to push the envelope.  Brentford showed glimpses of trying to get into the match but for the best part, they lacked the nous to do so.  I soon realized that the most entertaining aspect of the match was watching the home supporters in the Brentford end finding a myriad of ways in which to entertain themselves during a dour second half that was unfolding before them.  My god, even the woman were reciting some pretty rude songs about Fulham supporters.  It’s always funnier when the birds get singing for some reason.  I guess because you don’t often expect it?  I had no idea the ladies of Brentford were open to such colorful language!

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As the home team pushed for an equaliser, they were caught on the break and conceded a late goal to Tom Cairney in injury time which left the final score at 2-0 to Fulham.  This enraged the home side supporters and they duly unleashed on not just players but each other in some quarters which made for an entertaining walk back to the station and even more pleasant laughter waiting for, boarding then riding the delayed train back to London Waterloo.  I should mention there were splattering’s of Fulham supporters dishing it out as well.  Football banter.  Gotta love it!

By the time I arrived back at my hotel, it was 1 am and I was up again at 4 am to head to Luton airport for a flight to Glasgow.  As you may have guessed, I was running purely on adrenaline by now and trying my best to ignore the jet lag that was not just knocking, but pounding on my door.  Bastard!  But hey, that’s the life of a football traveller.

2 Weeks Without Facebook: What’s Happened?

It’s been two weeks now since I last had the Facebook app on my phone and used the social media brainwashing tool on a regular basis and I gotta say, i’m feeling so much better for it.  Aside from sending a few messages and sharing blog posts, I’ve not really missed it.  My mind feels far less stressed and consumed by things out of my control.  My books are getting a fantastic workout.  There is more time to go to the gym or head out for a jog and I get to embrace more time with my other half.  I’ve also taken to keeping off news websites for similar reasons.  To be honest, I’m a bit over hearing about Donald Trump every hour of the day.  Honestly, can you all just get the fuck over moaning about a guy who isn’t as bad and evil as the mainstream media and Facebook meme’s would have you believe?

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One of the greatest improvements to my lifestyle has indeed been my sleeping patterns.  Not having a phone nearby has allowed me to sleep without getting caught up in Facebook debates about politics, religion and sport.  It’s great.  And let’s be honest here.  There are a considerable number of stupid people using social media perhaps, on too regular a basis.  Did you hear about that daft English girl who got offended because a Virgin rail worker called her honey?  Yes, how dare he/she say such a word.  Reading this article on the BBC news site made me cringe and wince with pain at the thought of how precious people have become.  Everybody seems to get offended about nothing these days.  And if there is nothing to be offended over, they will concoct a bullshit story like our obtuse friend on the Virgin train in England.

The other advantage of weening oneself off Facebook is that you become more productive with your time.  You know what it’s like.  Saturday morning. You wake up.  What do you do?  Yep, spending an hour or two on fucking Facebook scrolling through peoples food and selfie shots.  Now, i’m able to get up straight away and be more productive with my mornings off work.  We simply waste too many hours in our week on Facebook.  Does it enlighten us?  Not really.  Does it inspire us to do great things?  Perhaps but again, not really.  If you look at the stats from recent years, education levels in schools are dropping, our society is getting fatter and our facts are now taken from meme’s created by completely deluded fools who make up any old shit and whack it onto a photo of some famous person they know little about and it becomes “fact”.  Mesmerizing ain’t it?

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The greatest irony of Facebook as a social media platform is that it is in fact, killing our social skills.  So often now, I see people out and about with friends, lovers or families and more often than not, they all sit in cafes and restaurants staring at phones, incapable of actually holding valid conversations.  Yesterday afternoon on my lunch break, I noticed a young couple who spent their whole time staring blankly into their smart phones.  Not once in the thirty minutes that I was there did either of them look up and exchange words or glance at each other.  Perhaps they were just chatting on messenger?  Can you see how dysfunctional social media is now making us all? Sad innit?

Perhaps you could start a no smart phone challenge this week?  Maybe put your phones away after 6 pm each day for a week and pick them up the next morning.  Buy an alarm clock if you have to.  Just try your best not to touch your phones.  Or, you could even take the giant step of deleting the social media applications off your phone altogether?  Imagine life without the need to star at a screen all the way to and from work?  Go on, give it a shot.  See how you go.  You never know, you may even enjoy life more without Facebook playing a heavy role in your day to day life?

2017: Another Great Year!

A year ago today, I began planning for the year ahead that has been 2017.  I may have missed out on a few personal goals but it’s still been a quite spiffy year all up and as I reflect upon the comings and goings of the past twelve calendar months, I thought it appropriate to take stock and see what I enjoyed most from the year.  So where to start?  Japan!

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Feels like just the other week but in fact, it was Australia Day (January 26) that I took a cheap flight to Tokyo to spend 5 days exploring some uncharted territory.  And, from the moment I set foot on land, I was in love with everything about Tokyo.  The people, the sights, the culture!  It was all there in plentiful amounts.  I spent my nights sleeping in a capsule hotel which was a new and interesting experience.  My days were spent predominantly on foot attempting to explore as much of the city as I could in the few short days I had.  Apparently, it was meant to be cold however, I barely felt a chill.

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The David Bowie Is…. Exhibition (the main reason I went) was one of the best I had seen behind London. Paris, Melbourne and Groningen didn’t quite have the appeal or charm of the bookend exhibitions.  The record stores were also a memorable draw card.  Bloody hard to find at first but once inside, they provided a plethora of rare and hard to find gems at astonishingly amazing prices.  Sadly, my budget only allowed a small handful of record purchases and a few magazines to follow me home. It’s here where I should point out that the customs officials upon arriving home would not believe my 5 day adventure was purely to see a city and visit a Bowie exhibition.  They were adamant I was hiding something more sinister. Silly fools.

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No sooner had I returned and it was straight into refereeing for another season.  I love being on the field, running about for months on end over the balmy Brisbane winters.  It keeps me fit and healthy and allows me some pocket money come the end of the season to go travelling with.  This coming season will be my 20th blowing the whistle since I picked up the reigns in 1994 (I have taken a few season’s off here and there to travel) which seems a lifetimes ago now.  The training isn’t as tough these days and I still do it mainly for the enjoyment levels and friendships gained from many years.  I can still see myself doing this gig for some years to come.  I mean?  What else could I do with my weekend?

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As has become the norm, I spent my birthday weekend in Sydney watching sport, seeing films and eating too much food for my own good.  Some new challenges for 2017 included seeing 100 films at the cinema (I’m sitting on 92 as we speak), walking/running 400 km’s during my birthday month (I got to 369), listening to new music (thanks Spotify) and spending less time on social media.  The social media challenge was perhaps the hardest of all but I have finally got myself down to spending little to no time on things like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  In fact, I have managed to throw myself headfirst back into reading books at a high rate again which has been quite an enjoyable pastime.  I’d even managed to knock out a couple of half marathons without too much training under the belt.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish when your mind is in control of a situation.

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As May rolled over, I made my way back to England for the end of season football adventures, museums and art galleries.  As always, the trip had me on the bounce every day which is just the way I like it.  The highlight was watching Liverpool overcome Middlesbrough to finish 4th and find their way back into the Champions League and I must give a special mention to Huddersfield Town of which I have garnered a soft spot for thanks to Pearl, Anna and Denis who have become pretty much my English family in recent years.  Beautiful people.  The Terriers managed to navigate their way through a penalty shootout at Wembley to win promotion to the Premier League.  A quick trip to Spain also meant I was able to visit the Dali museum in Figueres.  One of the most surreal and stunningly breathtaking museums I have ever had the pleasure of frequenting.

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Upon arriving home in June, plans for an October trip were put firmly into place and I also began dating more which turned out to be a bit of a disaster in the first couple of months.  In early September I met someone who goes by the name of Sarah who has turned out to be nothing short of an amazing human being.  All this at a time when I was thinking of chucking it all in and forgetting about woman for a while.  What is it they say again about the best things in life happening when you least expect them?

A humbling experience, as it is every year, has been chatting to homeless people.  Often, I will buy them some food, a coffee or even dog food to help them feed their pet puppy.  It’s a tough life living on the streets and I met some truly incredible people this year.  Sadly, governments around the world are cutting funding to homeless shelters left, right and centre which reduces the chances to homeless souls to get their lives back on track.  Perhaps in 2018, you could stop for a chat and maybe buy a few homeless people lunch or a cup of coffee?  No skin off your nose right?

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As October rolled in and I was off to England again.  The highlight of this trip was meeting Harry Kewell at a Crawley Town match and finally getting to Hayes Lane to watch Bromley FC in the National League. I’ve been to 54 football league grounds in England now.  Well on the way to hitting the magical number of 92 plus a few teams who have since dropped out of the football league.  Another 10 years of so and I should comfortably reach the magic number.  It’s hard to imagine my first trip abroad was almost 18 long years ago now.  Still, I have a good 40 years of travelling in me so lots more to come.  Imagine how many football grounds I will have been to in Europe by the time I turn 80?

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It’s been a cracking year all up.  I’ve done pretty much done things my own and exactly how I wanted.  2018 is sure to be a belter so bring it on and let’s get cracking!

2017 In Films

So here we are, time to wrap up yet another year (where on earth does the time go?) and look forward to what we will all hope to be a prosperous and exciting 2018.  One thing I do know is that 2017 has been a great year for cinema.  If anyone should know, that would be me.  To date, I have seen no less than 92 films at the cinema this year.  A few duds in the pile however, for the best part, many more gems have passed my eyes in the depth of dark theaters. Without further or do, and, in no particular order, are my TOP 10 films of 2017.

THE FOUNDER

Ever wonder how McDonalds came into existence?  Look no further than John Lee Hancock’s depiction of how the world’s largest and perhaps most iconic brand name was born, raised to infancy before being stolen from under the feet of the original McDonalds brothers.  Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a struggling salesman who sees an opportunity to go into business with two old fashioned brothers from America’s You know the rest because McDonalds is still here today in dwindling numbers.  What you will see in this brilliant depiction of deceit, lies and corruption is how a great idea sometimes needs a lethal mind to bear fruit.

MONSIEUR CHOCOLAT

In 1897, a black slave, who goes by the name of Kananga is discovered by George Foottit and together, they embark on a remarkable journey through France with a memorable and pioneering circus act that eventually wows large crowds on the big stage in Paris.  Along the way, both performers find their extraordinary show is not accepted as readily as they would like due to Kananga being black. White privilege comes to the fore in a film that strides from sheer beauty to complete disgust.  Throughout the journey you will be left laughing, crying and feeling angry at the injustices served up to coloured people just trying to make their way in life.

A MAN CALLED OVE

Follow the adventures of a widower, Ove Lindahl as he discovers life on his own doesn’t have to be as bad as he first suspected after the passing of his wife..  It’s natural to feel like life is not living when you lose your wife of 50 year and with the help of a brilliant and clever ensemble cast, Ove finds new ways to smile which allow him to once more enjoy life again when all was thought lost.  A Man Called Ove is of the most delightful Scandinavian flicks I have ventured to see in some time and was a stand out in 2017 for comedy’s packing some serious punch.

MISS SLOANE

Jessica Chastain gives the performance of her career to date as she portrays Elizabeth Sloane, an antagonistic lobbyist who jumps into bed with the anti-gun lobby and take on the NRA headfirst to convince the American public that guns are bad.  Now, anyone with half a brain knows how out of touch American’s are when it comes to gun control and you see this glaringly obvious stupidity from the world’s most powerful nation (allegedly) through their right to bear arms.  There are many poignant moments throughout but keep your eyes peeled for the gripping and powerful television debate.

DUNKIRK

Mention the name Christopher Nolan and you are almost always guaranteed one hell of an adventure no matter which project he takes on board.  Dunkirk stands out as one the stellar films of 2017 with an all-star cast including Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and a surprisingly crafty performance from pop star, Harry Styles.  The battle of Dunkirk takes on three separate story lines throughout the film as France falls to the German’s in 1940 with over 400,000 soldiers stranded on the beaches under fire from heavy German sky fire.  It’s an exhilarating journey which makes you feel grateful for those who sacrificed their lives to make ours a little more safe.

ATOMIC BLONDE

It’s 1989, the Berlin Wall is about to fall and the British & American governments are doing their best to smuggle spies and information out of East Germany and into the west.  Lorraine Broughton (Charleze Theron) is sent into the East by MI6 to retrieve vital information and faces increasing odds to get the desired results in a city where she can trust nobody.  Not even her closest allies.  Atomic Blonde is a sharp and edgy film delivered with continual blinding wit that still doesn’t distract you from following a very intelligent storyline.  It’s a solo directorial debut from David Leitch and he doesn’t hold back on pulling the punches. Theron also pulls off some incredible stunts which will have you riding the edge of your seat all the way through to the end.

I AM NOT YOURE NEGRO

James Baldwin left behind an unfinished manuscript from his time as a black rights activist during the period when Martin Luther King Jnr, Medgar Evers and Malcolm X were at their prime.  With Samuel L Jackson taking on the narration of this sublime documentary, you are smacked in the face with a most brutal back hander packed full of a harsh reality of America’s seedy side that should never be forgotten with the passing of time.  At times distressing, I Am Not Your Negro allows its viewers a chance to see a side of history that would otherwise be a distant memory.  Director Raoul Peck has delivered what will go down as a contemporary cinematic masterpiece that should not be missed.  Sadly, too many people will not see I Am Not Your Negro and that in itself, is a great tragedy.

AMERICAN MADE

During the late 1970’s, American pilot, Barry Seal is flying his regular low paying job with TWA when he is approached by the CIA to become a drug runner for the government.  American Made lifts the lid on the corruption of the Regan era administration and we even learn that a young Governor from Arkansas, Bill Clinton offers Seal a get out of jail free card when all looks lost for Tom Cruise’s character.  You walk away from American Made asking yourself why you bother trusting governments when they are in fact the most corrupt kids on the block.

THE PROMISE

As far as historical drama goes, The Promise delivers a long but enthralling story of the harsh realities of life.  The film is set during the time of the Ottoman Empire and follows the story of American journalist, Chris Myers (Christian Bale) as he discovers the Armenian holocaust first hand which led to the deaths of over 1.5 million people.  It’s a story that has rarely been touched on before amid the continual clambering to recite more and more stories of the Jewish holocaust that took place during World War 2.

LOVING VINCENT

Vincent Van Gough led a troubled life and this first fully painted animated feature film sets its focus on the suspicious events surrounding the artist’s death in 1890 at the tender age of 37.  There are over 65,000 oil on canvas frames involved in a process using 125 painters, shortlisted from over 5,000 applicants.  Loving Vincent is perhaps one the most original ideas of our times.  As the film progresses, you soon learn of Van Gough’s quiet lifestyle that led him to many different living arrangements in a life where all he wanted to do was paint.  And paint he did!  The budget for Loving Vincent was a strict one at just on $5 million US and the film has so far gone on to amass over $21 million at the box office.  It’s also helped invigorate a new found love of Van Gough’s works through an audience who would otherwise be completely unaware of his creative genius.