The Full Monty

The full monty moment approaches in The Full Monty

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

24 October

 

 

World’s first football club formed, 1857

On this day in 1857, Sheffield Football Club was founded, in Yorkshire, UK, as an offshoot of a local cricket club. It is now considered to be the oldest still existing football club in the world. Over the years there have been competing claims from different clubs and from different forms of football – though we’re talking here about a football club not the game itself (American football goes back to the 1860s though rugby, on which it is based, goes back centuries before that; Australian rules football goes back to the 1860s). Sheffield FC played according to its own “Sheffield Rules” (which have since become the basis for all soccer) and was originally a “wandering” team, playing games wherever it could, there being a distinct lack of football grounds, obviously, and cricket grounds being reluctant to allow 22 marauding players wreck their turf. Later, Sheffield FC played periodically at Sheffield United Cricket Club (United because it was home to six cricket clubs), though relations with a management more interested in cricket were never good and in 1875 the club vacated the ground for good. Moving on to various grounds over the years – including recently the Don Valley Stadium – it eventually moved to the Coach and Horses pub in neighbouring Dronfield in 2001, where it was finally the owner of its own ground. The ground has a capacity of 2,089 and is unassumingly named “The Home of Football” Stadium. Apart from having, in essence, created the modern game of football, Sheffield FC have not troubled the record books in any other significant way. Their last appearance in the FA Cup competition (open to all UK teams from professional Premier League clubs down to amateur village teams) was in the 1880s.

 

 

The Full Monty (1997, dir: Peter Cattaneo)

Written by Peter Beaufoy, a Yorkshire man who knew whereof he spoke, The Full Monty follows a gang of Sheffield guys, once employed in the town’s now dead steel industry, as they seek to take a leaf from the Chippendales and start a male stripping act – except our gang are prepared to go “the full monty” rather than leave the exact nature of their sexual endowment down to the imagination of watching females (our guys having nowhere to hide without the padded budgie smugglers). Robert Carlyle, still fresh in the memory as the suicidally aggressive Begbie from Trainspotting, is the affable ring leader, Tom Wilkinson is the former foreman to whom Carlyle (and fellow recruits Hugo Speer, Steve Huison, Paul Barber and Mark Addy) turn to for dance lessons. If you haven’t seen The Full Monty, and it is a really charming heartwarmer, you have certainly seen a film like it. Riding on the tail of Brassed Off and borrowing a touch from the lighter end of Ken Loach (see Raining Stones), and adding a dash of Ealing comedy, The Full Monty was part of a run of British comedies in which down-at-heel working class types would find renewed self-worth via the application of a wonder ingredient (brass bands in Brassed Off; gardening in Greenfingers; cannabis in Saving Grace; musicals in Lucky Break; posing naked in Calendar Girls; electricity pylons in Among Giants – hey, it takes all sorts). The formula wore thin, wore out, but no one cranking out the films seemed to notice. And a film like The Full Monty, tarred with the same brush as the wannabes, but essentially a Bruce Springsteen song made visual (socially aware, potentially maudlin, a great kick in the tail) has suffered as a result. It doesn’t deserve it.

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • Tom Wilkinson dancing
  • Feelgood that isn’t sickening
  • Great sight gags
  • C’mon, you’ve seen it

 

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

 

The Full Monty – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

 

Trainspotting

Ewan McGregor in The Worst Toilet in Scotland

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

27 September

 

 

Irvine Welsh born, 1958

On this day in 1958, in Leith, Edinburgh, Irvine Welsh was born. Or was he? After a police arrest in 1996, just after fame had hit him like a heroin rush, the police revealed that he was in fact seven years older, so born in 1951. Or 1961, if the BBC’s Writing Scotland website is to be believed. But 1958 is what the author maintains (I say “maintains” though his own website is silent on the subject), so let’s stick with that. After growing up in nearby Muirhouse, Welsh moved to London in the late 1970s at the time of punk, played as a guitarist in a string of gob-spangled bands including Pubic Lice and finally moved back to Edinburgh, where he worked in the council housing department. Remembered as a well dressed young man who never seemed the worse for drugs, he was apparently destined to “go far” in local administration. All the while Welsh was writing short stories, many of which featured in local literary magazines. Trainspotting was his first novel, a tale of drug excess, depravity and skanky humour among a small group of heroin users, delivered in phonetic street-talk. The lack of moral centre, the refusal to be PC and tone it down made it one of those books read by people who don’t read books. Welsh, in effect, became the heir to the New English Library output of Richard Allen whose books (Skinhead, Suedehead etc) had had a similar effect a generation before. Secker and Warburg, his original publishers, were convinced it would never sell – the original print run was 3,000. Well, they were wrong there.

 

 

Trainspotting (1996, dir: Danny Boyle)

“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television.” The soliloquy from Trainspotting, as spoken by Renton (Ewan McGregor), our likeable, voluble, eloquent guide to the more depraved side of Edinburgh life in Danny Boyle’s adaptation of the book. Having popped his head over the critical parapet with Shallow Grave, Boyle was propelled to international renown with Trainspotting, thanks to his ability (and that of screenwriter John Hodge) to safely transfer Irvine Welsh’s high energy, loud humour and foul mouth to the screen intact. With a largely Britpop soundtrack that wasn’t just cool but also appropriate (Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, Underworld, Blur, Leftfield), restless camera and some bravura stunts (Renton diving into The Worst Toilet in Scotland to rescue the opium suppositories), the effect was of a particularly nasty music video, or of a night of druggy excess, now exhilarating, now terrifying. McGregor’s heroin-chic cheekbones sold the film on posters, but great though McGregor’s performance is, Robert Carlyle as the insane Begbie is even better, one of the few instances of menace actually transmitting off the screen and into the audience. People took Trainspotting the film to their hearts the way they had the book, because it dared to say something that goes unsaid – the reason why people take drugs is because they enjoy it, simple as. And let’s not forget how funny it is – as Renton says about the group’s dealer, “We called him Mother Superior on account of the length of his habit.”

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • Welsh’s best book, Boyle’s best film
  • Party like it’s 1996
  • A cast largely of unknowns at the start of interesting careers
  • Buckle up for the “Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene

 

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

 

Trainspotting – at Amazon