Monday, July 05, 2010

2010 Movie World Cup, Quarter-Finals

The head-to-head rules for the Quarter-Finals are the same as the second round, meaning three categories are used to decide a winner -- Direction, Structure (story and editing) & Cinematography.

1) Mexico (In the Pit) 3-3 USA (Ballast)

Both films perfectly soak up the mood and noise of their locales with In the Pit focusing on a freeway construction site in Mexico City and Ballast observing a family's plight in the Mississippi Delta. However, Juan Carlos Rulfo has also created a film that explains a nation's economic and social situation and offers a meditative look at the mess that humans have created for themselves with their never ending car packed roads. The more roads that humans build, the faster they will be filled with cars so in a way, construction for easing car congestion will inevitably lead to more congestion. The Myth of Sisyphus is well and truly a reality.

2) Japan (The Human Condition, part I) 2-2 Portugal (Colossal Youth)

Two completely different styles at play here with The Human Condition being a narrative driven exercise and Colossal Youth a mesmerizing painting. In the end, the Japanese film wins out because of its rich and fascinating template of intriguing characters who provide an understanding into the political problems facing our world. Now, there is no denying the pleasure that exists in observing Ventura in Colossal Youth but in order to enjoy moments with Ventura we are forced to spend time with Vanda, whose conversations did not suit my cinematic palate. In a way, Colossal Youth demonstrated both the beauty and frustrations demonstrated by the Portuguese national team at this World Cup. On one hand, Portugal played some champagne football in their 7 goal classic against North Korea but on the other hand they were also guilty of mind numbing dullness in two 0-0 draws against Ivory Coast and Brazil. Portugal vs North Korea = Ventura, while Portugal vs Ivory Coast = Vanda. If only Cape Verde were present in this group instead of Ivory Coast, then maybe, just maybe a dream of a lava house would have been truly realized.

3) Argentina (Liverpool) 3-2 Serbia (The Life and Death of a Porno Gang)

Death is a common bond between these films but with a slight difference -- in the case of Liverpool death is indirectly implied outside the frame but in The Life and Death of a Porno Gang death is found brutally and explicitly at every turn. Liverpool also signifies nirvana where the main character is able to shed off his worldly worries and attain pure liberation. On the other hand, The Life and Death of a Porno Gang demonstrates multiple lives cruelly cut short with none of the characters ever coming close to living out their wishes.

4) Denmark (Flame and Citron) 2-2 Honduras (El Porvenir)

The Danish film shows the emotional wear and tear of characters trained to kill for their cause while the Honduran feature examines a social system which allows killing to easily take place. Flame and Citron is set during WWII at a time when resistance groups fought for freedom but as El Porvenir shows even when a nation gets freedom, its citizens cannot freely etch out a living.

Movie Quarter-Final Results

Mexico, Japan and Honduras advance on the back of subjective penalty shoot-out wins while the Argentine feature advances with yet another strong result.

All the films at this stage are quality works as demonstrated by the first round ratings -- 5 of the 8 films scored 9/9 and the remaining 3 netted 8/9. So this made for some very close decisions and interestingly, three of the quarter finals ended up being decided by a subjective penalty shoot-out after the head-to-head match-up ended in a tie.

Soccer World Cup Quarter-Finals

My prediction for 4 possible South American teams in the Semi-Finals came to a crashing end this past weekend. But thankfully, the 4 matches were all classics in their own right and provided plenty of drama and intriguing stories.

  • Holland 2-1 Brazil

  • I did not see this one coming, especially after the first half when Holland were absolutely poor. How can one explain Brazil's implosion in the second half, especially Felipe Melo's moment of madness? Melo lost his mind and so did Brazil. Robinho and Fabiano are imposters who should spend their energy playing the game and not complaining. Dunga's decision to take extra defensive players to the World Cup backfired and when Brazil needed a goal, they had no creative force to call upon. Hopefully none of the existing Brazilians will ever play for the national team again and the 2014 Brazilian squad returns to its beautiful football roots.

    Holland are in the semis for the first time since 1998 but this Dutch team is a world away from the 1974, 1978, 1988 Dutch squads known for beautiful football. Still, if there is a nation that deserves to win the World Cup based on the game's history, then it is Holland. But if the Dutch are to succeed, then they need Van Persie to stop getting injured and start scoring goals.

  • Uruguay 1-1 Ghana, Uruguay wins 4-2 on penalties

  • The hand of Suarez, a last minute penalty miss and a penalty shoot-out drama!! The end result is that Africa misses out on a historic semi-final berth while Uruguay is back in the semi-finals for the first time since 1970 when they lost 3-1 to Brazil.

  • Germany 4-0 Argentina

  • Prior to the game, my mind expected Germany to win but my heart wanted Argentina to win. Yet, I didn't expect such a one sided demolition job. Wow! Maradona went the opposite way of Dunga in that he left out much needed defensive cover in the form of Cambiasso & Zanetti and opted for more offensive players. The end result was that Germany had enough freedom to find space in Argentina's hollow defense.

  • Spain 1-0 Paraguay

  • What would Spain do without David Villa? Once again, Villa comes to the rescue after both team's captains, Casillas & Villar, made vital penalty saves although Villar got 2 tries to save one kick.

    Brazil's defensive setup vs Argentina's attacking lineup

    Dunga opted for 8 defenders, 8 midfielders and only 4 forward whereas Maradona took 7 defenders, 7 midfielders and 6 attackers. On top of that, Argentina's midfield was far more adventurous and attack minded than Brazil's defensive midfield which featured more holding players such as Gilberto and Melo. A Brazil vs Argentina final would have been a great opportunity to observe the contrasting styles but both team's weakness did them in. Brazil had almost no creativity to pry open the Dutch team and were as ineffective as they were in the 1-0 loss to France in the last World Cup whereas Argentina lacked any defensive cover to stop the German runs.

    So back to the drawing board for Brazil and Argentina.

    South America 1 - Europe 3

    South America's bright start has faded away and only Uruguay remain waving the continent's flag while the presence of Holland, Germany and Spain in the semi's means there is a strong possibility of a European team finally winning the World Cup outside of Europe.

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