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The English Lesson


The most disturbing aspect of The Yes Men Fix the World is the corporate media’s response when the truth comes out. The Bhopal hoax is labeled cruel and inhuman on the grounds that it gave “false hope.” So the Yes Men travel to India, where they’re heroes: A few hours of “false hope” was a small price to pay for getting the atrocity back in the spotlight (and playing havoc with Dow’s stock). Watch the jackass on local New Orleans TV gloat over figuring out the Yes Men don’t work for HUD: He really thinks he’s done his job as a journalist and served the common good. This movie is glorious testimony to the moral power of satire.

Screenwriter Peter Morgan is plainly fascinated by seminal moments in television—the queen mourning Diana, Frost grilling Nixon—and has written a third film that builds to a broadcast interview. The Damned United is more Eurocentric but quite enjoyable, even for those of us who don’t follow British “football.” In 1974, Coach Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) takes over big-deal Leeds United from a man named Don Revie (Colm Meaney), alienates the players, and lasts a miserable six weeks. The film, briskly directed by mini-series whiz Tom Hooper, flashes between Clough’s battles in Leeds and his triumphant early years in Derby, where he turns a second-division team into champions with the aid of his loyal chum Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall). It’s when Clough is sacked and, stricken, goes on a chat show with Revie that he spits out the source of his furious ambition: After their first game, Revie walked past him without shaking hands. Sheen, who played Tony Blair in The Queen and Frost in Frost/Nixon, is lean and wiry with bulging eyes: The angrier he gets, the more frozen. As in Morgan’s other films, TV is a revelatory, humbling force. If nothing else, The Damned United is a profound lesson in how not to be a new boss.

An Education
Directed by Lone Scherfig.
Sony Pictures. PG-13.

The Yes Men Fix the World
Directed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, and Kurt Engfehr.
Shadow Distribution. NR.

The Damned United
Directed by Tom Hooper.
Sony Pictures. R.



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