Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

United

It’s hard to mess up a really, really good story. I’m living proof of this. United is the true story of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster. The Manchester United football (also known in parts of the world as “soccer”) team was traveling by airplane to (then) Yugoslavia to play a European Cup (now Champions League) match when they crashed taking off upon the return trip in Munich. This may seem very spoiler-y, but I promise you this is the first scene of the movie.

Much of the plot development revolves around manager Matt Busby, star player Duncan Edwards, up and coming player Bobby Charlton, and assistant manager Jimmy Murphy. The performance as Jimmy Murphy, played by David Tennant, is especially great. Taking a gander at his resume, I’ve never seen any of Tennant’s other work, but his portrayal is quite memorable.

The cinematography is quite stunning. Having just made another kinda-sorta movie (a 37-minute highlight film documenting our 2012 National Championship winning cross country team), I found myself looking at a lot of shots thinking ‘dang… wish I would’ve taken a shot like that.’

The movie checks all of the boxes you are looking for in a good movie. Engaging. Well acted. Well shot. Interesting storyline. As a guy who wakes up at 6:30 AM on Saturday mornings nearly every week to watch English soccer, I’m obviously biased. Even if you aren’t a fan of soccer, it’s a movie that can easily be enjoyed. My wife, who certainly doesn’t like soccer, thought it was a great movie as well. If you are interested, it is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

7.5

out of 10

29

11 2012

The Two Escobars

In early 2009, Bill Simmons announced he was involved with a new thing called “30 for 30” at ESPN. It was going to be 30 documentaries made by talented filmmakers about 30 sports stories from the past 30 years (at the time, ESPN was celebrating their 30th anniversary as a network).

When the list of 30 movies were announced, a handful of them seemed somewhat hokey (I wasn’t real excited about documentaries about fantasy sports, the Baltimore Colts band, or the USFL). For the most part, though, I was genuinely intrigued. Once the first handful of documentaries aired and thoroughly impressed me, I knew I’d have to tape all of them.

Fast forward a few months to June 2010. My daughter was born on the opening day of the World Cup in South Africa. Having been a lifelong soccer hater (for the most part), I found myself watching the World Cup every morning when I got up early to care for my daughter. Within about 10 days, I found myself really enjoying soccer. Two weeks after she was born, 30-for-30 released “The Two Escobars,” a film by brother Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.

The film, which explored the deaths of Colombian soccer captain Andres Escobar and drug kingpin Pablo Escobar along with the direct ties between drug-money and the Colombian national soccer team, was absolutely groundbreaking. The interviews with the players and other Colombians really helps human this awful story about a time in Colombian history that was both awful (drugs, violence, etc) and wonderful (soccer).

Unfortunately, the drugs and violence was so bad it managed to ruin the (seemingly) one positive thing going on in the country. Shortly after the murder of Andres Escobar following his disappointing own goal against the USA in 1994 World Cup, many of the players on the Colombian national team decide to retire from soccer permanently. The downward spiral of Colombian soccer and corruption involving drug cartels continue to hang over the country like a black cloud even today.

All in all, it’s quite simply as good of a sports documentary as you are ever going to see.

9.5

out of 10

06

09 2012

Pelada

Pelada movie

The word pelada is a Brazilian term for pick up soccer (it’s also Brazilian for “naked” so be careful when doing a Google Images search). Former division one soccer players (and boyfriend/girlfriend) Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham, not quite good enough to make it to the next level but also not ready to completely quit the sport, decide to go on a tour of 25 countries to play pickup soccer.

They start in the cultural center of street soccer – Brazil. They meet an up-and-coming teenage girl who has dreams of one day being a great for the Brazilian national team. They also meet a girl who once had the same dreams, but now works in a factory painting plastic toys and playing street soccer in her free time.

From there, we are taken all over the world. We see them going to Argentina and getting rejected to play in pickup games in the expensive clubs only to head to one of most dangerous neighborhoods (former home of Carlos Tevez) against the advice of police. They travel to Japan where the only place to play is one rooftops. They travel to South Africa where they see the construction workings building the stadium that is to host the 2010 World Cup skipping lunch and playing pickup games instead. We see them bribing their way into a prison in Bolivia to play a pickup game with the talented prisoners. They travel to Austria to watch Euro 2008 where they have a chance to watch the best of the best only to buy fake tickets and be detained by the police. We see them involved in a heated game between the Arabs and the Jews in Jerusalem. Finally, we see them go to Iran where Americans and not well liked and women are not allowed to play soccer.

One thing that really shined through while watching “Pelada”… both Luke and Gwendolyn really love soccer the way that we kids love sports. It’s really fun to see them interacting with different people from all different socioeconomic classes and share that common experience. In my own life, I’ve told many of my friends how lucky I feel in coaching basketball and cross country to be around other coaches and kids who share in my passion. It’s equally as fun to watch people in film who are passionate, as well.

By no means do you have to be a fan of soccer to enjoy this movie. Although the movie is based on sport, the cultural, political, and human stories are what make the film memorable. I found myself making a real emotional connection to a bunch of people I’ve never met travelling to a bunch a countries I’ve never been to.

As someone who’s made a movie that I feel has a really great story that relatively nobody has seen, I almost feel like it’s my duty to demand you check this movie out. You can pick up a dvd at pelada-movie.com or find it streaming for free if you are a subscriber of Netflix or Amazon. Do yourself a favor and check out “Pelada.”

9.5

out of 10

04

09 2012