Group D -- Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia
Films: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Celia, The Perfect Picture, The Life and Death of a Porno Gang
Germany: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922, Fritz Lang)
Hypnosis, psychoanalysis, seedy gambling dens, stock market crash, mind control, greed, mystery, a long chase and ofcourse the magic words -- Tsi-Nan-Fu!
It is remarkable to think that Fritz Lang made this film in 1922. The film's black and white appearance give an indication of the production year but the story, acting and structure present a film far more mature beyond its years. Dr. Mabuse may be one of the earliest (or the first?) cinematic villians but few modern day cinematic villians can capture the brilliant insanity that Mabuse shows.
A truly remarkable epic film that is easily accessible and presents a fascinating journey into the depths of dark insanity.
Australia: Celia (1989, Ann Turner)
An intriguing film that parallels a young girl's nightmares to that of a society fearful of a rabbit plague and communists. The film also shows that not all young children absorb their parents fearful beliefs but the ones that do can become quite dangerous bullies and as a result taunt and torment kids.
Ghana: The Perfect Picture (2009, Shirley Frimpong-Manso)
The Perfect Picture is a humourous look at relationship issues of three friends and their quest to find true love in their lives. The three women are in different stages of a relationship, one is married, the second is having an affair and the third is caught between two men, but they all have their own problems. Their friendship gives them strength and comfort as they deal with their men.
This is the only light hearted film in the group and presents a nice break from the heavier material depicted in the other three films.
The Life and Death of a Porno Gang (2009, Mladen Djordjevic)
The word dark is incorrectly thrown around to describe plenty of movies but in the case of The Life and Death of a Porno Gang the word is perfectly applicable. In fact, Mladen Djordjevic's film is a base line standard that can be used to calibrate the words "dark movie" to judge other films. But ..Porno Gang is more than just dark. It is intelligent and presents plenty of material to chew on. Although the title does not do the film justice. The porn element is only at the start of film and is shown in a comedic manner like what is shown in Zack and Mirni Make a Porno. The film then moves into darker territory with violent torture elements related to snuff films and even a bit of Hostel. Since it is a Serbian film, a war/political layer is tacked onto the snuff videos. It is this addition of a political layer that helps to make sense of everything and gives a framework to the film. There is also a nod to Emir Kusturica's Underground in the final scene when the main character is wearing a jacket with the word "underground" clearly visible. The connection makes sense as this film can also be seen as an indirect successor to Underground. Aside from the political elements, the film manages to explore ideas about individual identity and how society immediately shuns those that dare to be different.
The Life and Death of a Porno Gang is not the easiest film to view given its content but it a relevant film that is one of the best films of the year. And it will clearly not be playing in a North American multiplex this year. As far as I know, the film's next showing in Canada will at the upcoming Fantasia film festival in Montreal as part of their Subversive Serbia spotlight.
Standings and Points (Maximum out of 9)
The Life and Death of a Porno Gang: 9
Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler: 8
The Perfect Picture: 5
Soccer Group Prediction
Like the film results, both Serbia and Germany should easily advance from this group. Serbia are much more stronger than 4 years ago when they finished bottom from a very tough group that included Holland, Argentina and Ivory Coast. However, despite their strength I am not sure if Serbia can take their chances to beat Germany to top spot in the group. On paper, Serbia should finish first in this group but in reality, they may squander their chances and only tie Germany, allowing Germany to take top spot on goal difference.
Even with Michael Essien, Ghana would have had a tough time in advancing but without him, their chances to move to the 2nd round are limited. Australia are unlikely to advance from the group stages like they did in 2006.
Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, authors of Soccernomics, have come up with a mathematical formula that predicts that Brazil will beat Serbia in the final of the 2010 World Cup. For that to happen, Serbia would have to beat Germany to take top spot in Group D otherwise if Brazil win their group and Serbia take 2nd spot, the two will instead meet in the semis, provided if the two win their knock-out round games. But very rare do results go as expected in the world cup.