Tuesday, September 21, 2010
ESPNsoccernet: September 24, 11:47 AM UK
Blue Moon Rising
History demonstrates that Manchester City and comedy make easy bedfellows. From the club's long history of disappointment to chief executive Garry Cook accidentally inducting legend Uwe Rosler into the "Manchester United" hall of fame, it is clear that farce has never been far from the blue half of the city. It is no surprise, then, that Blue Moon Rising - a film chronicling the club's 2009-10 season - is genuinely funny in parts, as well as being a hugely enjoyable dissection of the life of a football fan.
• WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
• Man City 2010-11 home and away kit - Umbro
Perhaps the most memorable scene surrounds Roberto Mancini, who is unwittingly drawn into an amusing role play with his language teacher as we observe his English lessons. "Are you Gareth Barry?" the Italian enquires, when asked to guess which one of his squad the middle-aged lady is channelling. Perhaps it is just the uniqueness of seeing a Premier League manager outside of his comfort zone and relaxed, off-guard, but it comes across as a gem of a scene. Comedy value also comes, of course, in the shape of our real heroes - the five City fans, who in the best tradition of football fans both invite and rejoice in ridicule as they follow their team throughout the season in a battered car named 'Helios'.
Aside from the usual banter, one supporter forbids his daughter from using red crayons, another votes Conservative because of their adopted colour and a third claims he loves blue so much that the sea is "one of his favourite things to swim in."
These passionate fans are the central protagonists of the piece and at no time does the film feel like a promotional tool for the City regime. Indeed, the club are criticised over the bungled handling of Mark Hughes' sacking while the film uses as a central motif a banner at Old Trafford that ticks from 33 to 34 - the years City have waited for a trophy. Cook even admits: "It drives us nuts."
This is first and foremost a film about supporters - and as such can hope to attract a wider audience than merely Eastlands regulars. Perhaps the most touching passage comes as one of our five fans proudly plays videos of his moment in the spotlight as a City mascot, only to then reveal that his father, all smiles on the TV, has since passed away. The lingering shot of his father departing down the tunnel, before taking one last look at the pitch, is haunting.
Though this film has been depicted in some quarters as the manifestation of the growing arrogance of a club bloated by money, it is in fact self-deprecating and insecure in equal measure, and all the better for it. Then again, after missing out on Champions League football so late in the season, and losing the Carling Cup semi-final to the hated United, what other attitude could our protagonists adopt apart from their default setting of resigned disappointment?
The journey through the season feels rushed - a thrilling 4-3 defeat to United does not merit a mention - but this is a necessary device in order to widen the scope of the film. To further explore the City story, we are treated to vignettes of past glories - Dennis Tueart's League Cup final goal of 1976, the 1999 play-off final against Gillingham - all of which are given dramatic treatment and accompanied by a soundtrack drawing on Manchester's rich musical heritage. It makes for a potent mix.
These flashbacks give Blue Moon Rising a surprising depth, but it is in the here and now that the film really excels. Match action is shot quite wonderfully and while the fans, not City officials, are the main focus, the producers are granted illuminating interviews with Cook, Khaldoon Al Mubarak and a number of players. A blunt Carlos Tevez even says of Sir Alex Ferguson: "I have nothing to prove, least of all to that man."
Any exploration of the lot of a City fan inevitably has to examine the success enjoyed by the red half of the city, and drawing United in the Carling Cup gives the producers the perfect opportunity to capture the antagonism between the two camps. This extends to the pitch, where cameras capture the foul-mouthed reaction of Gary Neville - described as a "weasel" by one of our five fans - to Tevez's provocative celebration in the first leg.
This spontaneous outburst, excellently captured, is a particular highlight, and one that encapsulates the humour, passion and tribal mentality that runs through this rewarding film.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE