Sunday, 18 May 2008

A 21st Century Portrait

More often than not football and film do not make a good mix but with Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait the combination is almost perfect. The film is the creation of Turner winning artist and filmmaker Douglas Gordon and French artist Philippe Parreno and is a study of one man, Zinedine Zidane.

This film is brilliantly executed as seventeen cameras follow the every movement that Zidane makes during the course of a La Liga match between Real Madrid and Villareal in the Santiago Bernabeau Stadium.

What makes this film so good is that Zidane is captured from a range of viewpoints, from extreme close-ups to aerial views and every view in between. This not only allows the viewer to see Zizou as he moves around the field and gets involved in the play but also allows a glimpse of the various mannerisms of this intriguing player. It gives us a glimpse of how vulnerable, tiring, calculated and almost lonesome a footballer can be whilst out on the pitch doing their thing.

A soundtrack that encompasses crowd noise, ambient sounds, Zidane’s breathing and the music of Scottish group, Mogwai, compliments the footage. On occasions this soundtrack is interrupted by the voice of Zidane himself as he talks about what he does and doesn’t remember from the matches that he is involved in.

My only disappointment is that I didn’t get around to seeing this film on the big screen and only watched it at home. The reason being that this film is probably better suited to the big screen and its ability to make things larger than life. Hopefully, it gets a rerun somewhere and I do get that opportunity.

A film well worth checking out for both football fans and lovers of fine cinema. I'm not sure what David and Margaret gave this film, but I give it five stars.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Two stories, one common denominator

Two books that I have read recently are worthy of a joint review as they both deal with the same subject matter, being a spectator at the FIFA World Cup. The two books being Dancing In The Streets: Tales from World Cup City by Don Watson and Australia United by Tony Wilson.

Dancing In The Streets is the story of Don Watson, a Scotsman, who follows Celtic and Leeds and his journey to the USA to follow the fortunes of Ireland at the 1994 World Cup. Twelve years later, Wilson does a similar thing and follows the fortunes of Australia at the 2006 World Cup and tells us his story in Australia United. It is probably stating the obvious that both books are by their very subject matter, similar in nature and style.

Where the two books do differ is in their location and how the locals react to the event. For Wilson he is in football mad Germany where everyone is absorbed by all the events of the tournament and wants to talk about it. In contrast, Watson is in a country that on a whole, is largely disinterested in the event and often he struggles to find bars that will show the games on TV as in New York particularly, they are more interested in the fortunes of their basketball team, the New York Knicks in the NBA playoffs than they are in their national football team.

For most of us, we will probably never get the chance to go to a World Cup and these two authors capture perfectly what it is like to be at the event that we will have been watching on television. Both Watson and Wilson manage to get to their respective World Cup Finals and the events leading up to and at the final are well worth the read especially Wilson's mad rush through the streets of Berlin makes for hilarious reading. Just as entertaining is Watson's "inter-racial" warfare with the Tongs, who object to him standing up at the final.

Both books are well worth the read and it was nice to reminisce and remember the events of the two tournaments, especially the 1994 event, whose memories were a little less clear than those of two years ago. Myself along with a friend with all things going to plan hope to attend the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, hopefully our experiences are just as enriching as those in these books.