Cup Final (Directed by Eran Riklis): Rating 6.5/10
Ah Football! How it brings different people together! Cohen is all set to attend the 1982 World Cup Final in Spain. He has his game tickets and can’t wait to attend matches of favourite Italian national team. But his plans are ruined when Israel invades Lebanon. Since Cohen is in the military, he has no choice but to head to the border and sit around, hoping to not get killed. And things get worse for him as he is kidnapped by a bunch of freedom fighters (who are fighting for Palestine’s cause). These people take Cohen and his friend hostage and move around the country, hoping to use the two captured men as bargaining tools when they reach Beirut. It turns out that two of the freedom fighters have some Italian blood in them and support the Italian national team. Even though Cup Final is a contrived movie, it feels sincere. It has the innocence shown in The Cup which was a movie about two Buddhist monk kids who go to great lengths to see the 1998 World Cup Final. As Cohen and his captors easily move across a war ravaged land, they manage to catch snippets of the World Cup and the Italian national team’s progress. And as expected the movie ends just as Italy thrashed W. Germany 3-1 to win the World Cup.
Kitchen Stories (Directed by Bent Hamer): Rating 8/10
After watching Bent Hamer’s Factotum at the London Film Festival, I was keen to see this 2003 award winning film that made the Norwegian director a known name. Kitchen Stories is a simple yet touching work. In order to better improve the kitchen lives of house wives, the Swedish Home Research Institute decides to investigate the kitchen habits of single men. So they send out a bunch of researchers to Norway. Each researcher will study the habits of a single male host (who volunteered and are awarded a toy horse in return for their troubles). The researchers will live in a trailer outside the host’s home and be free to walk into the host’s home at any time; he will sit on a high chair in the host’s kitchen and make notes about the single male’s walking patters, kitchen usage, etc. One strict rule is that the researcher should never interact with the host and not disturb his life in any possible way. The results of the experiment will be in jeopardy if the researcher is found to be talking with the host. But is it truly possible to understand someone merely by observing them? Isn’t it necessary to talk to someone to understand what they want? Folke is meant to objectively study Isak but Isak is a very difficult person to observe – for example, Isak turns off the kitchen light when his researcher is making notes, he hangs his wet laundry in the kitchen so that he can’t be observed. But slowly but surely, the two men begin to understand each other despite hardly speaking. And here lies in the beauty of the movie. Why bog down a film with dialogue when expressions can speak so much? Eventually they talk to each other and the two lonely men form a bond with each other. I quite liked this tender story. And Hamer does add a touch of subtle humor in this movie – he shows how people behave, how the Swedes and Norwegians view each other, etc.