Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 Movie World Cup, Second Round

The second round draw & rules:

1) The match-ups will be as per the FIFA World Cup knock out round draw, such as the winner of Group A will play the runner-up from Group B.

2) Three categories will be used to decide the head-to-head film match-ups -- Direction, Structure (story and editing) & Cinematography.

If film A is better than film B in a category, then film A will get 1 point and film B will get 0. So the maximum score a film can earn is 3-0 when it prevails over the opposing film in all three categories.

If both film A and film B are equal in a category, then they each get 1 point. This could lead to a situation where two films can be tied 3-3. In that case, the winning film will be decided by a subjective vote, which I equate to a penalty shoot-out.

So here are the film match-ups and winning scores:

1) Mexico (In the Pit) 3-1 Greece (The Lost Monument)

The Mexican documentary is quite sublime and thoughtful and earns maximum points in all categories whereas the Greek short film earns a point on the strength of its cinematography.

2) USA (Ballast) 3-2 Germany (Dr. Mabuse The Gambler)

The German entry scores points on its structure and direction, both of which are years ahead of the film's production time but Ballast excels in all categories, especially the cinematography which accurately conveys the bleak mood.

3) Japan (The Human Condition, part I) 3-0 Italy (Il Divo)

Interestingly, both films depict humans at their backstabbing best. However, The Human Condition is a far more engaging look at the difficulty in dealing with manipulative and egoistic personalities.

4) Portugal (Colossal Youth) 2-1 Spain (The Spirit of the Beehive)

This is the only match-up where the two films split up scoring in the three categories, as Colossal Youth scores on direction and cinematography, while The Spirit of the Beehive earns a single point on the strength of its linear structure and editing. Almost every scene in The Spirit of the Beehive serves a purpose to the overall film's flow whereas Colossal Youth has some scenes which are questionable. On an amusing note, Mark Peranson does extract the purpose of one such scene in Colossal Youth:

The corporeal walkouts at Cannes, highly expected, began en masse during Vanda’s first scene, the camera unmoving in her doll’s house-like bedroom, as she engages Ventura in a seemingly endless conversation about diapers, or something; hacking up half a lung, she becomes trapped in some kind of loop (is it the methadone talking?), and to those not on her (or Costa’s) wavelength, I can easily see how it could be torture, especially on the ninth day of the festival. "That scene is in that place to get everyone out of the theatre who doesn’t want to be there, right?" I asked him. His answer: "Exactly."

5) Argentina (Liverpool) 3-1 Uruguay (Gigante)

The beautiful liberating cinema of Lisandro Alonso vs the structured contemplative cinema of Adrian Biniez. Gigante is thoughtful and amusing in a dry humorous manner and scores a point due to its direction.

6) Serbia (The Life and Death of a Porno Gang) 3-0 Algeria(Daughter of Keltoum)

Two completely different styles on display here. The Serbian feature strips away any emotion in displaying the cold savage human mind at work whereas the Algerian feature is filled with tender emotions which warm the heart.  The Algerian film has lot of good qualities but if both films are judged objectively, then the Serbian feature easily comes out on top.

7) Paraguay (Paraguayan Hammock) 2-3 Denmark (Flame and Citron)

The only match-up where a group winner loses out to a runner-up film but it was certainly close and in the end, the Danish film's engaging story makes the slight difference.  Flame and Citron gives some insight into its characters psyche whereas Paraguayan Hammock is content to keep its characters a bit distant.

8) Honduras (El Porvenir) 3-0 North Korea (North Korea: A Day in the Life)

The only match-up to feature two documentaries. The Honduran film features a far more in-depth analysis of its subject where the North Korean entry barely scratches the surface of its material. Ofcourse, the watchful eye of the North Korean government is a huge reason why Pieter Fleury's film cannot explore its subject freely.

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