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Once In A Lifetime
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Once In A Lifetime – Review


The more money, power and success you have, the more money, power, and success you need – there are few clearer examples of this than the story of how 1970s US media tycoon Steve Ross – the head of Warner Brothers – pursued his dream to own a sports team.
Like a rich boy, he needed a very expensive toy.
Ross picked the then little-known sport, soccer, and bought the semi-pro New York Cosmos.
Much like the Glazers and Abramoviches of our day, he sought to boost his success by putting his money where his mouth was – by sourcing the most expensive footballers in the world.
Pulling strings in the Brazilian government (as only a multi-billionaire tycoon can), he started with Pelé, and soon added fellow Brazlian Carlos Alberto, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia of Italy among others.
Despite a power-struggle that developed with the team, for a few years, the team was unbeatable, winning championship after championship, and then the sport got its big break – a make-or-break season on network TV.


This film charts Ross’s attempt to build a team – and a sport.
Tycoons don’t often fail. Even the slightest knowledge of the current US soccer-scene, by contrast with America’s own array of ball games, will tell you about Ross’s long-term success.
But this film shows you how the rich boy, bought his toy, and how it eventually slipped through his fingers, because ultimately, the media let it down.
Even if you have no interest in football – or any kind of sport – it’s more a study of the media than it is of sport – seeing how media money runs so much of western society – and the loss of media money can make so much of western society collapse.
It’s perhaps all the more entertaining if you don’t love football, as you can be more objective about it.
The bitterness of many of the participants towards each other gives the documentary an injection of often dark humour, and it’s certainly one of those films where the “Where are they now?” captions over the closing credits add a lot to the story and your understanding of the characters involved – not least the film-makers’ delightfully cynical view of Pelé.

Opens nationwide 19th May 2006



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