Tuesday, June 08, 2010

2010 Movie World Cup, Group H

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Films: The Spirit of the Beehive, A Crude Awakening, El Porvenir, Historias de fútbol

Spain: The Spirit of the Beehive (1973, Victor Erice)

Victor Erice said in an interview that the following image of Frankenstein formed the genesis for The Spirit of the Beehive.

This picture of a monster's interaction with a young child is turned into an extraordinary tale about how a nightmare haunts a young fragile mind and leads that child into darker territory. The film starts off innocently by showing the allure that cinema has but young Ana is mesmerized by the image of Frankenstein. She has questions about the movie but her sister lies to her and says that Frankenstein is a spirit that can be summoned at will by Ana. After that point, the images of Frankenstein grab hold of Ana's psyche and change her perception of reality. Also, things are complicated by the external situation that exists in a post civil war society and under a dictatorship. In a way, this film forms an early predecessor of Pan's Labyrinth.

Switzerland: A Crude Awakening (2006, Basil Gelpke & Ryan McCormack)

Oil. Progress and root of evil. A double edged sword.

On one hand, oil fuels human progress further but on the other hand, it threatens to take society back to the stone age with the destructive wars that its possession causes. The documentary starts off by showing excess dependence on oil before moving onto discussion about peak oil and the future decline of oil supply. The film also shows some examples of places that have run out of oil, such as the following oil field in Baku.

Finally, the movie ends with a discussion about possible alternate sources of energy. A Crude Awakening is about 4 years old and since 2006 there has been much debate about the dangers of over dependence on oil and the need for alternate source of energy. Yet, changes are happening slowly.

Honduras: El Porvenir (2008, Oscar Estrada)

In April 2003, 69 prisoners, mostly gang members, were killed in a violent clash inside the El Porvenir penal farm in La Ceiba, Honduras. The killing was put down as an isolated incident involving fights among rival gang members but the brutal slaying indicates that it was a preplanned event. The film constructs a thorough investigation by including detailed accounts and opinions from the two opposing sides -- the victims families are interviewed along with prison inmates, and prison guards. Estrada then steps back and looks at the series of events leading up to the clash and puts the incident into a larger social context by examining why young people are lured into gangs in the first place. The film shows how poverty and basic human necessities forces some people into gangs and also examines the role of corrupt/inefficient police and government officials in making things worse.

El Porvenir is a model example of a good documentary as the film objectively tries to examine an event and does excellent research in looking at the larger issues around the event.

Chile: Historias de fútbol (1997 Andrés Wood)

The film is divided into three short stories titled First half, Second Half and Overtime. All three segments demonstrate love of football with the “First half” showing the professional game and issues such as bribing and betting. The “Second half” presents a pure love for the game that can only be found at the youth level. “Overtime” looks at the obsessive addiction to the game that men develop. Yet, “Overtime” is also the most mature segment and shows that lust for a woman can make a man forget about the game. Soccer may be an obsession and sole focus for a single man but as a man grows up and discovers other loves, soccer is integrated into their daily lives along with their job and relationships and is no longer their only focus. Well in theory atleast.

A normal soccer match goes down in skill as the game goes into overtime because the tiring legs prevent too many genuine creative chances. However, Football Stories is strongest in the "Overtime" segment and is weakest in the "Second half."

Standings and Points (Maximum 9)

El Porvenir: 8
The Spirit of the Beehive: 7
Historias de fútbol: 6
A Crude Awakening: 5

Note: Rules and point criteria.

El Porvenir is a real gem of a discovery and it is still a mostly unknown entity. The films is still not listed on I had high hopes for Historias de fútbol because I was very impressed with Andrés Wood's 2004 film Machuca but Football Stories is disappointing.

Soccer Group Prediction

Despite their injuries and possible fatigue, Spain should easily win the group. Chile had an excellent world cup campaign and should follow Spain out of this group. Ottmar Hitzfeld will ensure the Swiss put on a good display but Switzerland's style will be a complete contrast to Chile and Honduras. The Honduran squad has some good players in David Suazo, Wilson Palacios and Amado Guevara but it is hard to see them progress out of this group.

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