All posts by Matthew Gault

Liverpool edge Manchester City in thrilling Anfield showdown

Liverpool’s march towards their first league title in twenty-four years showed no signs of slowing down as they overcame Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield.

Goals from Raheem Sterling, Martin Skrtel and Phillipe Coutinho helped Liverpool to a tenth consecutive league victory and left Manchester City with a mountain to climb if they are to lift the Premier League trophy in May.

The afternoon began with a minute silence for the 96 who died in the Hillsborough disaster, twenty-five years ago this month. 60,000 fans also poured their respect out in song as a full rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone,’ giving the day an emotionally charged backdrop.

However, the home side showed no signs of letting their emotions get the better off them as they got off to a flying start. Luis Suarez muscled Gael Clichy off the ball impressively before slipping in Sterling who outfoxed both Hart and Kompany with a sharp turn and placed the ball safely into an empty net.

Suddenly the pre-match tensions and fears dissipated for Liverpool as they hunted down a second, passing the ball neatly and crisply up front to trouble an already rattled City defence. Kompany, who was already struggling for match fitness, and Demichelis struggled to cope with the pace and dynamism of Liverpool’s attacking quartet of Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho.

Indeed, Liverpool’s attacking endeavour was further rewarded when Skrtel scored a superb glancing header from a Steven Gerrard corner.

Manchester City showed character and resilience after half-time as they tried to get themselves back into the game. Those attributes were epitomised by the industrious substitute, James Milner, who came on and within minutes set up David Silva to pull it back to 2-1.

For the first time, Liverpool looked genuinely troubled and they failed to withstand the pressure as Silva engineered another more attacking wizardry as he pulled the ball back for it to hit Glen Johnson and slide past Mignolet at his near post.

Anfield was deflated and it looked as though this enthralling match may have been swinging in Manchester City’s favour until Coutinho pounced marvellously on a sliced Kompany clearance to curl the ball into the bottom corner and deliver all three points for Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers knows now that the title is in Liverpool’s hands. His team passed another huge test as they took a massive leap towards their first league title since 1990.

Film Review- American Beauty (1999)

It’s been fifteen years since the cinematic release of American Beauty, Sam Mendes‘ masterful portrait of suburban life, but it would be an uphill battle to find a current film which exhibits the same level of directorial quality or depth of character.

The film manages to address several key aspects of contemporary American life with great style and focus. Life, death, homophobia, materialism and teenage angst are all strung together to produce a coherent and evocative piece of cinema.

Lester Burnham, played with consummate finesse by an Oscar-winning Kevin Spacey, is a 42-year-old magazine writer who simply hates his life. He hates that his cosy suburban neighbourhood and materially-obsessive wife, Carolyn (Annette Benning), have sucked all the joy out of his life, which makes him feel “already dead.”

However, Lester finds himself escaping this life “which so closely resembles hell” when he develops a deep physical attraction to his daughter’s friend, Angela, a process he describes as “like being in a coma for twenty years and now just beginning to wake up.”

Lester’s attraction with Angela, who is a High School cheerleader, is the most startling and provocative aspect of the film. Lester has essentially never grown up after college as he met Carolyn and started living the typical life of the ‘American Dream’ but it is his obsession with Angela which makes him feel young again. Mendes uses dream sequences, all shot with visual panache, to portray Lester’s fantasies of Angela and are weaved into the story to track Lester’s path to escaping from his mid-life crisis.

The main reason American Beauty’s plot progresses so seamlessly is the expertly written characters, all very different people on the surface, but all suffering from the same misery and feeling of repression. Lester is miserable because of his wife and job, just like his daughter is miserable because she is not popular and beautiful like Angela. In addition, Ricky Fitts, Lester’s next-door neighbour, is miserable because of his troubled past and his homophobic, abusive father who literally tries to beat “structure and discipline” into him. 

The collective loneliness and depression of the characters represent the dark, cynical vision of suburban culture and their path to achieving true American happiness. Mendes’ film shows a type of suburban prison which suffocates the characters and it’s not until they free themselves from the shackles of their imprisonment that they discover the true beauty of American life.