Monday, June 26, 2006

1st Movie World Cup – Second Round Results!

In keeping with the format laid out by the Soccer World Cup, 16 teams competed in a knock-out format in the second round of the Movie World Cup.

Rules for scoring in second-round and onwards until the Final:

1) Movies compete in 5 categories (Acting, Story, Direction, Cinematography and Sound) earning either 0 or 1 point for each criteria.
-- If movie A has a better story than its opponent (movie B), then movie A gets 1 point and movie B gets 0.
-- However, if both movie A and movie B have good stories, then they each get 1 point each.
-- Also, if both have terrible stories, then the two movies get 0.

This scoring enables reasonable soccer scores like 3-2, 2-0 or even 0-0 (both movies failed on all 5 criteria).

2) If the score is tied after all the 5 categories, then a penalty shoot-out will be used with a single criteria – subjectivity. That means, I can freely give preference to a movie that I like without caring for its objective values. Is that fair? Well it is more fair than penalties are in the real soccer world cup!!

Here are the match-ups and results:

1A vs 2B – Germany vs England

German movie: Werner Herzog’s Signs of Life
English movie: Director Gary Wicks Endgame

This contest was not even close. It was a bit unfair because the English movie was thrown into the fire but the odd thing is that Signs of Life was Herzog’s first movie. Herzog’s 1968 film has some similarities with his last movie Grizzly Man . Both movies are about insanity, although the two films take a different approach to reach that conclusion. Grizzly Man is a documentary where Herzog narrates the camera footage that he discovered of Timothy Treadwell. Signs of Life is a scripted movie but it is told in a documentary format where a narrator tells of the slow transformation of Stroszek, a solider who gradually goes insane after he finds himself bored on an island. The beautifully shot black and white movie is told in documentary style and could easily be something constructed by assembling found camera footage of the incidents on the Greek island. The camera angles at times also give us the idea that the audience is looking from the outside and is never let in as to what is happening, something which is common when one is watching a documentary based on archival footage. Overall, Signs of Life is visually excellent with some very poetic shots. Easily a contender for best movie!

Final score: Germany 5 – 0 England
Goal scorers, Germany: Story, Acting, Direction, Cinematography, Sound
The German movie was strong in every department and ran the English movie off the pitch!

1B vs 2A – Sweden vs Poland

Swedish movie: Ingmar Bergman’s Persona
Poland: Andrzej Wajda’s Kanal

This was a really close contest. Persona is a critically loved movie and I can see why. But then again, I don’t think it is as good as it made out to be. Kanal on the other hand has a very dull start but once the story movies to the underground labyrinth of tunnels, the movie really kicks into gear. My biggest problem with Persona was that I believe all the clever abstract elements were wasted on a dull story; the movie ensures that the viewer knows at all times that they are watching a film -- the start gives the viewer a glimpse of the evolution of cinema, the middle has the screen split in half as if the projector chewed up the film, and near the end, the camera shifts back to the camera crew showing the movie being shot. Now, these are great elements but the story of the two women trying to outwit each other just didn’t appeal to me.

Final Score: Sweden 2 – 3 Poland
Goals, Sweden: Acting, Direction
Goals, Poland: Cinematography, Story, Sound

1C vs 2D – Argentina vs Portugal

Argentina – Director Héctor Olivera’s A Shadow you soon will be
Portugal - Director Manoel de Oliveira's I'm Going Home

This was a very close contest but in the end, ‘subjectivity’ penalty kicks had to decide the contest. Personally, I loved the Argentine movie. I felt this was a poor man’s version of the sentiments that the 2005 Brazilian movie Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures echoed. Both the Argentine and Brazilian movies had similar ideas of men setting out into the unknown, escaping and seeking. In the Argentine movie, the main character returns home only to find himself thrust into a chaotic circus surrounded by colorful eccentric characters who are seeking to live their life to the fullest, even if that means living in the past, dreaming about the future or merely driving away the present. The Portuguese movie, I’m Going Home is in French and is a technically polished movie with high caliber acting. However, I didn’t agree with the director’s vision of packing the movie with plenty of staged dramatic scenes to convey the main character’s love of theatre over other aspects of his life.

Final Score: Argentina 3 – 3 Portugal, Argentina win on Penalties
Goals, Argentina: Story, Direction, Sound. Penalty: Subjectivity
Goals, Portugal: Direction, Acting, Cinematography

1D vs 2C – Iran vs Holland

Iran – Director Abbas Kiarostami’s And Life Goes On
Holland - Director Paul Verhoeven’s Turkish Delight

Two completely different movies, two completely different styles! The Iranian style was slow but the Dutch were pacy and only slowed down near the end when they knew the victory was in the bag. And Life Goes On turned out to be appropriate pick because it does talk about the Soccer World Cup – the films showed that despite having an earthquake level out cities, some people still wanted to watch the soccer World Cup because it came only every 4 years. However, as the movie’s actor told one person, an earthquake was more critical because it could only occur once every 40 years!

Final Score: Iran 4 – 5 Holland
Goals, Iran: Story, Acting, Direction, Cinematography
Goals, Holland: Story, Acting, Direction, Cinematography, Sound,

1E vs 2F – USA vs Japan

USA - Director David Dobkin's Wedding Crashers
Japan – Director Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan

Wedding Crashers were able to power their way out of their group in the first round but they stood no chance against the award-winning stylish Japanese movie.

Final Score: USA 1 – 4 Japan
Goals, USA: Acting
Goals, Japan: Story, Direction, Cinematography, Sound

1F vs 2E – Brazil vs Italy

Brazil - Director Vicente Amorim's The Middle of the World
Italy - Director Roberto Benigni's The Tiger and the Snow

What a colourful contest! The Italian movie, unlike the Italian soccer team, showed plenty of energy. However all of Benigni’s energy was not enough to channel enough goals to overcome the technically polished Brazilian movie. It felt as though Benigni was trying to carve out another feel good movie along the lines of Life is Beautiful but this time the hollow story didn’t stand strong.

Final Score: Brazil 5 – 2 Italy
Goals, Brazil: Acting, Story, Direction, Cinematography, Sound
Goals, Italy: Acting, Sound

1G vs 2H – Korea vs Tunisia

South Korea - Director Chan-wook Park's Lady Vengeance
Tunisia -- Director Raja Amari's Satin Rouge

Both movies were very good and quite different from each other. In the end, tt was a very close contest and the final decision was a tough one.

Final Score: Korea 5 – 4 Tunisia
Goals, Korea: Acting, Story, Direction, Cinematography, Sound
Goals, Tunisia: Acting, Story, Direction, Sound

1H vs 2G – Spain vs France

Spain -- Director Achero Mañas's El Bola
France – Director Pierre Jolive’s In all Innocence

This is the only tie that is similar in both movie and Soccer World Cup. The soccer game will be a tight encounter but the movie contest was not as close.

Final Score: Spain 5 – 2 France
Goals, Spain: Acting, Story, Direction, Cinematography, Sound
Goals, France: Acting, Cinematography

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