The Firm Kicks the Crap Out of the Other Football Hooligan F
Connoisseur Rat | 12/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason, lately I've wanted to see as many movies about football hooliganism as possible. And even though the The Firm's fighting scenes leave a bit to be desired (namely, realism), storywise this film kicks the crap out of similarly-themed titles like Green Street Hooligans and Football Factory. From Gary Oldman on down, the cast is terrific in conveying the more human elements lurking behind the sensationalistic subject matter. And in keeping with Oldman's character, who's a sociologist, this film has a very insightful sociological take on the relationships that exist both within and without the structural milieu of football violence. If it's realistic fighting you want, go with Football Factory; if you're looking for a stylized Hollywood film that's light on believability, see Green Street. But if you enjoy more character-driven cinema, definitely go with the Firm.
As for Elephant, I found it to be an oddly interesting, disturbingly well-executed collection of artfully-filmed murder scenes based on the troubles in Northern Ireland. This coldly moving short recalls Ron Fricke's visually-compelling compositions with its varying views of different locations and social stratifications, throughout which an impassive camera casts no judgment. Though seemingly rote and repetitive on the surface, we're not just killing time here - the relentlessness and the inevitability with which the murderous procession takes place leaves one with a distinct feeling of dread and dis-ease. And the fact that the shootings take place from different perspectives and classes of killers, there is a sense of suspense even within the plodding and purposeful structure, as we don't know the exact means to which each victim will meet his end - or even who will be the victim. This is a direct reflection of the uncertainties felt by those living at that time and in that place, as one could never be completely sure who the "good guys" were or from where the next bullet would come.