Wednesday, August 06, 2014

2014 Movie World Cup: Semi-Finals

Semi-Finals Preview

Four different decades are represented by the semi-finalists of the 2014 Movie World Cup.

Brazil: Neighboring Sounds, 2012, Kleber Mendonça Filho
France: L’Argent, 1983, Robert Bresson
Italy: Il Posto, 1961, Ermanno Olmi
Belgium: La Promesse, 1996, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Brazil was the only country out of the final four nations that was expected to reach the semi-finals of the 2014 Movie World Cup based on the strength of its selection Neighboring Sounds. This Brazilian film was the only previously seen entry out of the final four and its strengths were well known. On the other hand, the remaining three films were late editions and not in the first draft of selected films for the Movie World Cup. However, the pedigree of Robert Bresson, Ermanno Olmi and the Dardenne brothers should not make it a surprise to see their films in the final four.
Even though Brazil was expected to make the semi-finals, its presence is due to a sequence of events that don't adhere to logic. In 2013, Neighboring Sounds finished 2nd in the year end list to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Japanese film Like Father, Like Son, a film present in this Movie World Cup. But Kore-eda's film was not selected for Round 2 as Mikio Naruse’s When a Woman Ascends the Stairs was deemed to be the best Japanese film of Round 1. Once Like Father, Like Son was not selected, the Brazilian film was able to overcome When a Woman Ascends the Stairs on penalties.
As per simple logic, if a > b and c > a, then it follows c > b. But in the case of this Movie World Cup, b forced a tie with c and then b won on penalties.
However, these film decisions are not based entirely on logic because emotion played a big part. Naruse's film overcame kore-eda’s work because When a Woman Ascends the Stairs shows restraint and conveys lot of feelings without displaying open emotions thanks to Hideko Takamine’s excellent acting. However, that lack of emotion for Naruse’s film proved to be its undoing in penalties because the Brazilian film displayed a lot more nerve. As faulty as this process seems, it is exactly the way soccer tournaments unfold where teams win even though they should have lost with penalties being an unfair decider in many cases.
Semi-Final Results
Both semi-finals finished with an identical score-line but in reality, the French and Italian films were too strong despite the close scores.
Brazil (Neighboring Sounds) 2-3 France (L’Argent)

Country: Film Acting Story Cinematography Direction Production Score
Brazil: Neighboring Sounds 100012
France: L'Argent 011103

The Brazilian film prevails in the production category due to its superior sound design and also takes the acting category for displaying a lot more emotion than the French film. However, L’Argent wins the match due to its story, cinematography and Bresson’s direction.

Italy (Il Posto) 3-2 Belgium (La Promesse)

Country: Film Acting Story Cinematography Direction Production Score
Italy: Il Posto 110103
Belgium: La Promesse 001012

Il Posto gives up points in the cinematography and production categories to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s well crafted feature but prevails due to its acting, story and Olmi’s overall direction.

Third-Place Match

In the Soccer World Cup, it does not seem fair to hold a third place match for teams that are still hurting from their semi-final loss. However, usually one team manages to regain some thrust while the other team appears to be on vacation mode. As a result, the Soccer World Cup’s third-place match is often a high scoring game. The same is the case for the Movie World Cup as both films combine for a higher score than either semi-final.

Brazil (Neighboring Sounds) 4-3 Belgium (La Promesse)

Country: Film Acting Story Cinematography Direction Production Score
Brazil: Neighboring Sounds 110114
Belgium: La Promesse 101103

In reality, the contest was too close to call. Both films are rooted in their specific cities but they explore universal themes about migration to a city for a better life. In La Promesse, the film shows the struggle that illegal immigrants have to go through in the hope for a better future. While, Neighboring Sounds shows people who leave their village for the city to find jobs. But the Brazilian film adds another layer on top which gives its story the edge. Neighboring Sounds depicts how actions committed in rural areas can have a direct reaction in an urban setting. This gives the film a more cyclical feel.

Unlike the Soccer World Cup, Brazil bounces back and takes 3rd spot in the Movie World Cup.

2014 Movie World Cup Final

It comes down to this. A single match to decide it all. The 2014 Movie World Cup final is a repeat of the 2006 Soccer World Cup Final, France vs Italy.

France (L’Argent) vs Italy (Il Posto)

1983 vs 1961.
Robert Bresson vs Ermanno Olmi.

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