Week in Review
There are World Cup fans and then there are football fans. That's pretty much how it breaks up. You can put anyone watching a match in one of these two camps. For the uninitiated, when I say "football" from here on out, I'm talking about soccer. If you think it doesn't matter, call football "soccer" in front of a football fan.
Following the World Cup is as trendy as white belts. Every four years, there's an international competition to determine the world champion. In honor of this tournament, tons of Americans use it as an excuse to go to a bar and drink in the morning. They'll say they love soccer, how it's great, how it's faster than any other sport, how the athletes are in the best shape of any other professional athlete, regardless of facts. The World Cup fan generally doesn't follow the sport when it's not World Cup time. Every four years, they smugly pretend to be really into soccer.
The football fan has a team that has been followed for at least three generations in the family. It's a loyal, dedicated fanbase that is hard to understand unless you're a baseball fan. But don't you dare compare the sports: football fans generally hate baseball for all the same reasons they say you shouldn't hate football. But when it comes down to it, both sports have inherited followings, and both are games of heartbreak. People are fans of the same teams that their grandfathers were fans of, regardless of where they live. And, if you're lucky, you get to see your team win the championship once or twice in a lifetime.
I've never been able to watch a football match from start to finish. I can't stand looking at it. Of course, I don't expect someone from a nonbaseball country to sit through the All Star Game or even a game 7 of the World Series. Baseball and football both pretty much require a lifetime of watching to appreciate. Otherwise, it's like looking at just one episode of a soap opera and attempting to know what's going on.
However, I've watched quite a few football movies this year, and I love them. I had some more coming, but they didn't show up on time. Regardless, here's a quick guide to some good films that you may have missed under the assumption that if you don't like soccer you won't like these films. Go ahead and pick these up, they're worth it on their own.
Bend it Like Beckham
This Culture Clash type film pits a traditional Indian family's values against the daughter's love for the game. They tell her not to play, but she sneaks out and plays anyway. There are some plot gaps, but the overall story is sweet and compelling, athough it's quite sappy.
The Football Factory
This is the Pulp Fiction of football films. It's brutal and violent, and captures the comraderie of the Hooligan, the word for the boneheaded fans who love to chant, drink, and fight.
Green Street Hooligans
Elijah Wood stars in this independent feature about an American who gets immersed in the world of football and Hooliganism. While not as good as The Football Factory, it's still fun, and a little more accessible to the American viewer.
Once in a Lifetime
This documentary has been showing on several ESPN channels as of late. It's worth checking out. It examines the short-lived North American Soccer League that disbanded after its late 1970s heyday. NASL recruited some of the best players worldwide to play for the New York Cosmos. Unfortunately, the US may never be able to sustain a pro soccer league at the level they required.
Filmed with special effects of martial arts films, this sports film has a look unlike any other. The tone of the film is a satire of second rate Kung Fu flicks. Hands down, it's the funniest film of the lot.
Goal! The Dream Begins
If you're the type who watches football to look at the boys, this is the one for you. There's nothing too special about the plot or the filming, but Kuno Becker has made a lot of fans with his looks. Two sequels are planned.
Despite Sly Stallone's wooden performance and 1980s haircut, I really enjoyed this one. Michael Caine and Max Von Sydow overcome Sly's underperformance. It's a bit like The Longest Yard but with WWII POW's versus the German National Team. The sports scenes are captivating, played with a who's who of international stars, including Pele.
This is a remake of The Longest Yard, starring former footballer Vinnie Jones and the scene stealing Jason Statham. It's one of the few great remakes. It's prisoners versus the guards in a British prison. It remains true to the original while adding some nice elements on its own.
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Pick of the Week
No film has captured the heartbreak and undying faith of the fan like Fever Pitch. Nick Hornby wrote not only the screenplay but the novel it was based on. The main character, Paul is a die hard Arsenal fan. He meets Sarah, and they fall for each other, but she doesn't get his devotion to football and his favorite club. There's not really that much football in this one, but there's more fan than any of the other films. It's one of those films that flies by and feels like it's only been half an hour. I didn't see the American remake with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, mostly because of all the bandwagon Red Sox fans who popped up in 2004 for the World Series, but haven't watched a baseball game since. But this original film is my pick of the week.
The lack of mail on Saturday for Veteran's Day hit me hard. There are seven DVDs coming for me on Monday, but I wasn't able to get in a full set of films.
6 DVDs this week. 431 DVDs in 316 days. 69 DVDs left in the next 49 days for a pace of 9.85 per week.
Total Viewing Time: 30 days, 22 hours, 28 minutes