Fabio Capello is gone. Another England manager bites the dust.

It’s always a weird thing, being an Irish fan of English football. I mean, virtually all Irish football fans are fans of English football. Mostly either Manchester United, or if you’re a particularly cool and interesting person, Liverpool FC. It doesn’t translate to being a fan of the England team. Not at all. In fact, I actively root for (forgive the Americanism) any team playing against the English on every possible occasion. Players I ordinarily like become objects of ridicule and players I dislike become something more awful entirely.

Thing is, I enjoy watching England lose on the field, but that doesn’t translate to wishing ill of everyone involved with the team. In fact, a rather weird thing happens: because I know all of the players and I am familiar with the manager, I tend to develop pretty strong opinions about the England team that are by no means all unfavourable. For example, one of my pet peeves is the manner in which the English press insists on constantly deriding their national team’s level of skill. Do they have any idea? Have they seen Ireland’s midfield recently?

I also can’t stand how the exact same people who write in detail about how bad England are will simultaneously take as Gospel the fact that players like Rio Ferdinand and John Terry should start no matter what. There’s this whole system of talking certain players up while essentially mocking the team as a whole. It’s frustrating: really, the only thing English journalists care about is pumping up the personnel on the England team to increase the hype surrounding them so that when the team ultimately fails the press can round on them as a whole, perhaps occasionally calling out some poor bugger that isn’t friends with that many journalists. Or the ‘keeper. The fact of the matter is, if the England players could find a spot somewhere between rampant tabloid-fuelled insecurity and rampant tabloid-fuelled overconfidence, they could win some tournaments. Should win some tournaments, in fact.

It’s a joke. The whole thing’s a joke. Now they’ve lost a competent manager.

Before I go on, I should clarify a little. I don’t have any issue with Capello leaving. It’s pretty interesting that the reaction of the Italian press is that Capello deliberately fell on his sword, or at least came somewhere close to that. His defence of Terry was bizarre and at the very least insensitive. It is by no means a stretch, in my view, to claim that he was looking for a way out. I think that’s because Capello was crushed by the 2010 World Cup. He hasn’t cared about the England job since and it had long become a pay cheque. I don’t blame him. Not even a little bit. The fact is, England lost a competent manager in 2010 and it’s about time they sorted things out.

Capello was betrayed, betrayed utterly in 2010. That England team had bulldozed its way to the World Cup. They had looked magnificent in qualification. The team had a solid shape, nice and solid at the back, a decent amount of talent up front and a midfield that was genuinely competitive at a world class level. Not at the level of a World Cup; a world class level. They got to the World Cup, various morons otherwise identified as England players started talking about winning the tournament, and then John Terry decided he was allowed to give judgements on managerial decisions in public. All of that was trouble enough, except then the team went on to completely embarrass themselves on the field. David Beckham, for some confusing reason was walking around and acting like he was managing the team while expertly avoiding any degree of blame at all. Capello ended up coming under fire after the Germans made the accident waiting to happen a reality and made England’s humiliation completely inescapable.

It was completely unfair. I remember Capello during that tournament. I don’t think he was able to believe it. This team that he had taken together and had gotten playing as a unit arrived at a major tournament, decided they had already won it and focused on playing politics with the media and playing like crap. What was he supposed to do? Well, it turns out he decided the solution was to keep taking the FA’s money but to stop caring. I think the decision was pretty clear: they (the players) clearly don’t respect me enough to perform at a tournament and are happy to let me twist in the wind, so I don’t have any incentive to really care about them.

And now he’s gone. More power to him. Harry Redknapp will come along and everything will be hunky dory, apparently. Until they turn on him.

Here’s the thing: the media loves Harry Redknapp. Players love him. If he can’t get an England team firing, well… you did the right thing, Fabio.

The Amazing Spiderman


Some points, before I get started:

I’m not actually a massive Spiderman fan or anything. I never read the comics, though I loved the cartoons when I was small. Otherwise, yeah… not really that hugely into the character outside of my experiences watching cartoons so I can easily be shouted down, and that’s fine.

It turns out I’m sick of Emma Stone. This is completely unfair. She seems pretty nice. I’m sure she’s lovely. Thing is, I didn’t really like the movies that made people like her, as I see it: Easy A, Superbad and Zombieland.*

*The Oxford comma is for suckers.

Right. Now that I think of it, this is more of a blog post about Ms. Stone, but I’ll get on to that in a second.

The new trailer for the new Spiderman movie with the not terribly new plot is out!

It’s pretty cool, right? Well… it’s mostly cool. Partly cool. There are cool elements in this trailer.

Come on. Rhys Ifans would be all over this character.

First, the things I like about this trailer. The action looks good. I like Denis Leary. The costume looks decent. The Lizard seems like an interesting bad guy. Lacking any comic book experience with the character and his rogues’ gallery I was rather unimpressed with the idea of a bad guy being a giant anthropomorphic lizard when clearly it should be either Doc Ock, the Hobgoblin or Mysterio, but hey. I’m no expert. This lizard dude looks pretty good. Plus, it’s Rhys Ifans, and Rhys Ifans is fantastic in almost everything he does. The guy is fantastic.

Garfield seems to be a solid lead… the kind of actor who’s going to stick around, who I’m never really going to grow particularly fond of but will probably always be good. And to be fair, that is by no means an easy thing to do. Garfield seems decent and convincing. I loved Raimi’s second Spiderman film but I never really came around to Tobey Maguire. I get that they were pushing for us to see Peter Parker as a teenager, as was always intended, but I honestly didn’t care a lot about Peter Parker in those films. That’s why Spiderman 3 is so utterly broken, apart from the fact it’s trying to be about three films at the same time: we’re supposed to believe in a major journey being taken by a character very few people care about. That, and the fact that the whole “I HAVE GEL IN MY HAIR AND NOW I AM EVEEEEEL. ALSO, I DANCE” thing was pretty weird.

Even without the emo hair, that look is just… ugh.

Anyway… I digress. Easily my favourite thing about the new Spiderman trailer is that Garfield is utterly and completely convincing as a smart alec superhero. It’s that one moment in the trailer, he is sitting in the back of the car and makes a wise crack. It’s not exactly first Beverly Hills Cop movie stuff, but it’s pretty funny. And Garfield nails the delivery. For the first time since I was a kid watching the cartoons in my parents’ living room, I find Spiderman funny. Sam Raimi spent three movies telling me that Spiderman was funny, a loveable wise-ass but a wise-ass all the same. I never got it. For the first time in a film, I get it. Hopefully this is going to be a major element of the movie, because I really don’t want to see Peter Parker discussing the morality of vigilantism with Denis Leary while Emma Stone gives her biggest “RUH ROH” face for any longer than we’ve already seen. In fact, cut that. Just get rid of it.

Which brings me on to the things I don’t like.* I really like Denis Leary, which to be fair, is a fairly major achievement. I feel like a lot of people have been “over” him since about a year after the commercials he did with all the singing profanity and whatnot. Or maybe lots of people just never liked him. I like him. I think he reminds me of a slightly angry but pretty funny relative. Maybe it’s a transatlantic Irish metaphysical connection that transcends genetic ties. Or maybe I just like Denis Leary. I also think he can act. I’m just not buying him as the police chief nemesis of Spiderman. Well… that’s not fair. I buy him as that character, I’m just not really interested in that character existing.

*I was going to use the word segue there but I get annoyed about how it should be pronounced. Americans seem to pronounce it “seg-way” which seems utterly ridiculous to me. I have also heard people say “seg” which is also clearly wrong and furthermore, gross. It’s French, right? Shouldn’t it be pronounced “say-ge” with a very soft ending? I know I’m being ridiculous. I could definitely be wrong. I just don’t want to use a word with a stupid pronunciation, even if the stupid pronunciation is the correct one. I KNOW I COULD GOOGLE IT. Where’s the fun in that?

I know that the dynamic with Spiderman that pits him as the good guy against people in authority who aren’t bad but disapprove is an important one. I get that it speaks to a lot of what Spiderman is and what the character means. I just prefer when the character is Jonah Jameson. Again, I’m going off cartoons here. I also know why they didn’t go down that route. JK Simmons nailed the Jonah Jameson character.

I’m going to say that again. JK Simmons nailed the Jonah Jameson character. He did it so perfectly it defies belief now, a decade later. I will never forget how excited I was watching the first movie when Simmons came onscreen. He was fantastic. This new Spiderman film already feels a little bit soon after the last trilogy, there’s no need to push their luck. Unless they brought Simmons back, a decision that would have been extremely weird, they were correct to go a different way in my opinion. So really, I’m being really difficult and unfair. I’m going to complain and refuse to offer a solution. Because the solution I want isn’t feasible and ultimately just wouldn’t work. Internet jerk alert.

It all feels a little… well… underwhelming. I am not reaching the level of whelm that I would like. Personally, I’m starting to feel comic book fatigue. I mean, we live in a golden age for nerds as far as mainstream films go. They are making an Avengers movie. It looks like it might be good. We are all hoping it will be good. Some of us – say it softly – are actually EXPECTING it to be good. This is major. We had two good Iron Man films!!!!! Ok, one that everyone thought was good and a second that I liked. People discuss the latest X-Men film by comparing it to an earlier series of X-Men films that were good, except for the third one that they let that creepy guy direct. I mean… this is ridiculous! I am loving this, I really am. Thing is, this new trailer for the Spiderman movie really makes me wonder how much longer it can last. Are comic books movies really going to stay with us, as a genre, forever? Or will they go the way of the Western? That’s probably a whole other blog post.

Finally, there’s Miss Stone. I don’t GET why I’m supposed to think she’s awesome. Now, to clarify: I’m sure she’s very nice. She’s clearly talented. I am an anonymous dude on the Internet writing a blog. I don’t think for a second she will ever see this, but if she did, I can only assume she would brush it off as “a guy I don’t know and will never meet doesn’t enjoy my performances in film, while millions of others do” and go back to what she was doing earlier. I just don’t find her interesting on screen.

I didn’t really like Easy A. It was a nice movie but it didn’t really get me going in any real way. I don’t know why; it was a clever story, it was really well done, Stone’s character’s family was very funny, Stone herself was great, and Thomas Haden Church was in it. The whole thing just felt like a straight-to-DVD movie that you watch and go “huh. That was pretty good” and move on from. I’m not saying that the only movies I like are big blockbusters, not at all. Easy A just reminded me of going to the video store in college and grabbing a movie I heard was decent but hadn’t been too bothered about seeing. Easy A has some very compelling arguments in favour of it by people I like to read. I just never quite got there.

That’s the ridiculous thing about my issue with Emma Stone. It’s not even an issue, not really. She was good in Easy A. I just don’t feel any draw to watch her in things. She was good in Zombieland, but that was another weird DVD on a quiet college night movie for me. The opening credits were awesome, but otherwise it just kind of… happened. The whole celebrity surprise scene was also a bit weird and just felt like ass-kissing. As for Superbad… well maybe I’ll write about that someday. I have serious problems with that film. But anyway, yeah, she seems great. I just don’t really care.

Don’t get me wrong, I find her a hell of a lot more entertaining than someone like January Jones. In X-Men: First Class that woman was some kind of bizarre dialogue vacuum. I mean, really. Some people can’t act, but she’s about as good at acting as I am. Have you ever tried to deliver lines in front of a camera? It’s hard, and if you’re not able to do it you come off looking and sounding really weird and a bit dead inside. Like January Jones. So yeah, I don’t dislike Emma Stone at all. I just don’t really care about her one way or the other, and that means I already don’t give a crap about the love story. To be fair, I could say that about a lot of films, but it definitely contributes to my overall feeling of ambivalence about the film.

I had a lot to say about a film trailer. Yes, I will obviously go and watch it. It’s Spiderman.