Bit by bit, HBO Max has gotten onto the fútbol bandwagon, and so far, they have put some very entertaining productions online. If you are a student of refereeing, narco-fútbol, or sports corruption, you will especially enjoy the documentary Dangerous Play (original title is Jugada Peligrosa) by Director Matías Gueilburt.
Having reviewed so many Maradona films and series, I was sorely confused when I began to watch the Argentine docuseries Bilardo, el doctor del fútbol. In all the Maradona shows I’ve seen, coach Carlos Bilardo is portrayed as a very minor but unpleasant character, someone who calls the shots for the Argentina NT but otherwise is buried in the background. So for me, this 4-episode HBOMax docuseries is a soccer revelation that thoroughly describes the man behind Maradona’s success.
Maradona Blessed Dream, the 10-episode series from Amazon, may hook you in its steady outpouring of sex, drugs and fútbol. It will probably be the grandest film/series about Diego Armando Maradona that will ever be made. But if I hadn’t felt compelled to review it, I would have preferred to turn it off. It just feels so distasteful and disrespectful. Do we really want to remember Maradona by the depictions of his nightlife, copulations and orgies?
I had trouble understanding the title of Argentina Fútbol Club. This is not the name of an actual club, and the documentary describes itself as a brief chronicle of the rivalry between Argentine clubs Boca and River Plate.
Línea de Cuatro might be an unpalatable Argentine version of Diner. Four men in their 30s get together to watch the WC 2014 final between Argentina and Germany. They haven’t been together in the 4 years since their 5th comrade Sebastian killed himself.
While the title Zebras may confuse you, this documentary is about 9 Argentine boys who represent their country in the Apr-2014 Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. The boys live together in La Casita, a home that takes children off the streets of Buenos Aires. By participating in the tournament, the boys experience travel and learn aspects of teamwork and personal responsibility.
Before there was Messi, there was Maradona. Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona is an extraordinary football film in its collection of Maradona’s greatest hits: his passes and shots as well as the violence perpetrated upon him by opponents. In extensive footage, time and time again Maradona throws off tackles like a dog shaking off raindrops. There is not a single moment where he looks ordinary on the field. Even his juggling during practice is something I had never seen before.
River, El Más Grande Siempre (translation: River, the Greatest Ever) is a 2019 documentary about Club Atlético River Plate in Argentina. It covers the players, the club’s idols, some of its 35 championships, the history, the style of soccer, and the fans.
Lusers is a delightful comedy of cultural differences as strangers from 3 countries travel the Amazon basin to the WC 2014 final in Brazil. Each of the trio (a Chilean, a Peruvian and an Argentine) is escaping a personal problem (thus a loser), but the trip presents even more challenges. They wreck their vehicle, are pursued by a hitman, are captured by an indigenous tribe, and discover a stolen relic.
Why did Underdogs go straight to DVD? This is a fun family film, and to my knowledge is the first soccer movie that is an animated full-length feature film. I saw the trailer at the theater and ever since, I had been keeping an eye out for its release.
White, Blue and White is an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that examines the effect of the Falklands War on Argentines Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. After winning WC 1978* in Buenos Aires, they are recruited by newly promoted Tottenham to become the first Argentines to play in the England First Division.
They are wildly successful until Argentina’s ruling junta invades the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in 1982. Ossie’s fighter pilot cousin is killed in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Sometimes I don’t learn much from watching a soccer movie, but it confuses me enough that I research the subject to understand what the movie was really about. Fútbol Violencia S.A. (Football Violence, Inc.) is such a movie.
Gritty and gripping, Chronicle of an Escape is a true story about innocents and leftists who “disappeared” at the hands of the Argentine juntas during 1976-1983. The filmmakers show how interrogators use torture, starvation, and humiliation to crush the human spirit.
Lesbianas de Buenos Aires is not really a soccer movie. Neither is it a movie that Howard Sterns would salivate over. It is a documentary of interviews of several unrelated 30ish lesbians.