Once in a Lifetime (NC)

The Manhattan transfer

The documentary's kinetic footage of the National American Soccer League's games - with their cheerleaders, their Bugs Bunny mascots, their slogan-flashing computerised scoreboards, and their sudden-death extra-time rules - looks exactly like a satirist's scornful fantasy of what football would be like if the Yanks got their hands on it, which could be why the NASL shattered like a broken metatarsal in the early 1980s.

On the other hand, the Cosmos were an international team of nightclub-haunting superstars who earnt millions from their club and from product endorsements, and who played a game which lived or died - died, as it turned out - by its TV viewing figures, so maybe Ross's only mistake was to be two or three decades ahead of his time.

Not that Once in a Lifetime has the patience for much analysis. As bitchily entertaining as it is superficial, the film is a fast, rambunctious account of the NASL's rise and fall, pumped up by a non-stop funk soundtrack, and all the zooms and split-screens of a kipper-tied cop show. Football fans will love it, and it won't tax the attention span of American football fans, either.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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