It’s better to pass than to try ‘Shooting for Socrates’ (2014)

Shooting for Socrates (2014)

The problem with Shooting for Socrates is that the football is really a backdrop for writing a feel good story about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And while sport as metaphor is the motivation for many soccer movies, in this case, the film doesn’t find its chemistry and feels like oil and water. Categorized as both drama and comedy, the film feels like neither.

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ESPN falls flat with ‘Mysteries of the Jules Rimet Trophy’ (2014)

ESPN 30 for 30 logo

It’s hard to believe that Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour franchise, put together the worst ESPN 30 for 30 segment that I have seen. Mysteries of the Jules Rimet Trophy covers all the facts, but the production is flat, and the importance of the artifact is blown way out of proportion. It’s almost facetious. It’s not the Holy Grail, it’s a small piece of metal of a woman holding up a cup. It’s not even gold.

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‘Foul Play’ (2017) – it’s easy to fix matches in Indonesia

Director Suridh Hassan put together this documentary about corruption in Southeast Asian football, mostly covering Indonesia. He follows the season of UK manager Simon McMenemy, who coaches Indonesian side Mitrar Kukar FC. He also conducts interviews with a youth coach, a physio, and a journalist who explain how easy and pervasive match fixing is in the area. The bottom line is: Don’t bet on games in Indonesia and Singapore.

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‘Diamantino’ (2018): A satire or just randomly disturbing?

Diamantino (2018)

Great expectations make a heavy burden. After Diamantino’s smashing 2018 premiere at Cannes, I eagerly looked forward to it for over a year. It is now available to rent/purchase on iTunes and Amazon, but the typical football film and soccer movie fan may end up wanting to reverse the last 90 minutes of their lives. 

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‘Kaiser’ (2018) perpetuates a lad’s fantasy

Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football (2018)

Imagine you’re at WC 2014 in Brazil, and you hear this great story about a legendary local lothario. Known as Kaiser, Carlos Henrique Raposo pretended to be a pro footballer and lived the life for over 20 years. He slept with thousands of women, conning the ladies, owners, and coaches, while cleverly avoiding ever getting on the pitch. 

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Where did ‘United We Fall’ (2014) go wrong?

United We Fall (2014)

As viewers, we sort of expect that a mockumentary will play out, as Bob Balaban has described, like “spending time with a bunch of really funny and totally harmless mental patients.” Christopher Guest set a very high bar for mockumentary, and I have no doubt that, when Writer-Director Gary Sinyor outlined his plan for United We Fall, he hoped his football comedy would reach similar heights of hilarity.

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Don’t bet a leg on ‘Shui Hu the Soccer Heroes’ (2006)

Shui Hu The Soccer Heroes (2006)

Talk about strange. I found Shui Hu, The Soccer Heroes ( 水浒足球 ), an anime Chinese DVD, in my county library system. The animation is quite crude and similar to Captain Tsubasa, so that I thought this film must be from the early 1980s. Instead, this feature length cartoon from Hong Kong was produced in 2006.

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La Pena máxima is watching ‘Penalty Kick’ (2018)

Penalty Kick (La pena Máxima) (2018)

Mariano, an ardent fan of la Selección, passionately believes that Mexico always wins when he is at the game at Azteca to cheer them on. In a home-and-away series with the USMNT to qualify for the World Cup, Mariano (Adrian Uribe) bets all his savings on Mexico.

But on the morning of the deciding home game, his uncle dies. Mariano and his brother desperately try multiple deceptions to escape the funeral service and get to their seats in Azteca. As the game progresses, they try to at least find out the score.

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‘Soka Afrika’ (2011): well-meaning but misinformed

Soka Afrika (2011)

The problem of human trafficking through football, also known as football trafficking, has been covered in the media for almost 10 years. In Soka Afrika, Suridh Hassan puts together a sensitive portrayal of 2 teenage footballers trying to make a career in Europe in 2009. However, I do not recommend this documentary because it puts a good face on bad agents and furthers the myth of sports as a key way out of poverty.

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In the Hooligan genre: ‘White Collar Hooligan 3’ (2014)

White Collar Hooligan 3 (2014)

After The Football Factory, I swore I wouldn’t watch any more Hooligan movies. They seem to be a genre of violence, sex, and drugs, with a little bit of football as context. As in, we gotta go to a West Ham game on the way to the violence, sex, and drugs we are going to do.

And I don’t understand why it’s always West Ham hooligans.

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The poverty around WC 2010 is ‘Meanwhile in Mamelodi’ (2011)

Meanwhile in Mamelodi (2011)

During the month the 2010 World Cup is played in South Africa, Director Benjamin Kahlmeyer shows the life that goes on, meanwhile, in the impoverished township of Mamelodi. The township is only 16 miles from Loftus Stadium, but residents’ interaction is mostly limited to buying noisy vuvuzuelas and enjoying Bafana Bafana’s games on small black and white TVs.

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‘The Prize’ (2014) teaches how religion can help athletes

The Prize (2014)

Video evangelism is a soccer movie genre I haven’t reviewed until now. I was contacted by filmmaker Shawn Keith, who created The Prize: Under Pressure for sports chaplains. His 26-minute piece is well-done, interspersing World Cup footage with testimonials by international players. The most well-known of these is Kaká, and Americans will all recognize USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The message of the film is that embracing Jesus helps players deal with the pressure of performing at the highest level.

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