Monday, July 25, 2011

Copa America 2011: Chile

Entry #10 of the Copa America 2011 Book & Film Festival.

Book: The Secret Holy War of Santiago De Chile by Marco Antonio de la Parra

Marco Antonio de la Parra’s book starts off in a flash and it does not slow down through its 317 pages while constantly moving in unexpected directions. Tito Livio thinks he is just having another bad day and is baffled why strange things are happening to him. The truth floors him and sends him on a wild ride through a marvelous hidden world in Santiago where the battle for mankind’s fate is taking place between God & the Devil. Tito is caught in the middle of this battle because he discovers his father was a double agent for both God and the Devil and that he carries the key which will determine the fate of mankind. Numerous fascinating characters turn up to help Tito while others try to distract him from his path, including the fictional La Maga straight out of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch. The book contains many memorable elements but one particular section stands out in which Tito encounters various Chilean intellectuals and authors who remained unknown from the world because others in the west published similar ideas and words before the Chileans could do so. As a result, when the Chileans let their ideas be known they were not given any credit but were instead nicknamed after the Western intellectuals. So Roberto Romero became the Chilean Sigmund Freud. Tito is surprized to learn this and Romero explains to him how he got his nickname:

My name, that’s what they call me. I’m not a demented person who thinks he’s Napolean. The fact of the matter is that my name was lost in the shuffle because of my nickname. That’s the tragedy of Chile, being almost a country, an imitation, a pastiche, a parody, an eternal internal vision of the exterior world, a microclimate. When, inspired, I finished my best work, they negotiated with me and they told me to wait, because of this, because of that. When I managed to get the word out, forcing myself through the official channels, I found them praising a Viennese who was saying the same thing as I was. What I wrote was already written, what I thought he immediately thought, in unison, a European author, where things that are important to historians happen, where images are emitted of which we are only a reflection, the northern hemisphere which gives names to peoples, authors, and things. They read my work and as a great honor they nicknamed me the Chilean Freud, apocryphal Freud, Sigmund Freud Romero, and now simply Sigmund Freud, immortal of mediocrity like all these souls who have written the past and future of the West. Ignored forever, our souls are condemned to wander in this nightclub as a testimony to the other side of history, the night side, the one your father knew in all its glory, and that now is nothing but a shadow of its former heyday. It’s a sign of the times. Do you want to come with me?”

These words can also apply to talented writers and film directors from various countries who are unknown in the West because their works were not championed by an influential critic or their works did not get the right award.

Overall, The Secret Holy War of Santiago De Chile contains many intelligent ideas packaged in a very accessible manner. A truly fun read.

Film: Tony Manero (2008, Pablo Larraín)

Pablo Larraín’s chilling film shows that sanity cannot exist under a brutal dictatorship which causes some people to throw their co-workers/neighbours under the bus to pursue their selfish goals. Such selfishness is personified by Raúl Peralta (Alfredo Castro, excellent) who is easily one of the most memorable characters to have graced the silver screen in the last decade. Peralta will do anything to win a Tony Manero impersonation contest and he manages to use the repressive rules under the Pinochet regime to his advantage. A truly fascinating film that places the viewer alongside Peralta to witness his transformation into a menacing serial killer.

Note: Jonathan Romney’s film review is a must read.

Chile’s Copa America campaign

Chile started the Copa America in a coherent and flowing fashion with a 2-1 win over Mexico and a 1-1 draw with Uruguay. Even though Chile didn’t win against Uruguay, they dominated the game with their fluid passing and pressed Uruguay throughout the second half. After 4 points from their first two games, Chile were in a comfortable position to advance and their final game against Peru was a non-event but Chile still registered a 1-0 win thanks to an own goal in the 92nd minute. Chile and Colombia were the two best teams of the group phase as both registered seven points. Expectations were high when Chile were paired against Venezuela in the Quarter-finals, but Chile’s match-up was the last of the four quarters and that meant there was an air of inevitability about their fixture. By the time Chile took to the field, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil had all lost their games, so it seemed natural that Chile would also lose and complete a clean sweep of defeats for all the four favourite teams in the Quarter-Finals. Venezuela frustrated Chile in the first half as Chile could not find any rhythm. Then in the 35th minute, Vizcarrondo gave Venezuela a 1-0 lead after he exploited Chilean’s defensive weakness and scored from a free-kick. Chile reorganized in the second half and pressured Venezuela and eventually tied the game up in the 70th minute with a remarkable turn and shot by Suazo. Chile also hit the woodwork a few times in the second half and were finding their groove but once again Venezuela took advantage of Chile’s defensive problems and scored after Chile failed to clear a free-kick in the 80th minute. Venezuela hung on for a famous win and a promising campaign for Chile failed to produce anything.

No comments: