May 21, 2008

Cannes. Maradona By Kusturica.

Maradona By Kusturica "As a twice-over Palme d'Or winner, Emir Kusturica might justifiably feel that he too, like Diego Maradona, has been touched by the hand of God," suggests Jonathan Romney in Screen Daily. "But his loosely-structured documentary portrait of the beleaguered football legend bears out the suspicions suggested by its title: Maradona By Kusturica is indeed practically a large order of Kusturica with a side salad of Maradona."

"Kusturica deserves credit for revealing Maradona to be more articulate and thoughtful than he usually appears, but what a strange, blustering, macho film this is," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "It is pure penis-envy cinema. Kusturica has no obvious affinity with the cinematic possibilities of football; his clips of Maradona's goals are unimaginatively chosen and presented, and often repeated to pad out the film."

Update, 5/23.

"It's the director's good fortune that everything about Maradona rags-to-riches tale of a fallen anti-hero is classic Hollywood material," notes Kaleem Aftab in the Independent. Even so: "The director is not a good journalist. There is much that Kusturica chooses not to discuss with the man he idolises. Maradona doesn't talk about his illegitimate son, his relationship with the Neapolitan mafia or anything about his career in Barcelona. It also pays to have some knowledge of the midfield maestro when montage sequences of Maradona on the football field are shown. The most preposterous moment is when Kusturica in all seriousness says that analysing Maradona play football could be as valuable for understanding the human condition as the works of Freud and Jung."

"In thrall to the iconic soccer wizard, the director makes the film as much about his simplistic politics and idolizing fans as about his playing career," writes Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter. "Kusturica gets Maradona talking about his rags-to-riches rise to fame and the cocaine addiction that he says prevented him from being an even greater player, and shows him in the cocoon of a loving family. But the director puts himself in the film quite a bit and it leaves the impression that, as many men would, he just wanted to hang out with one of his sporting heroes and brag about it."

Screening Out of Competition. Update: "Snarky detractors might muse that both men, monumental egotists on the evidence here alone, demonstrated spectacular ability in their early careers only to eventually disappoint," writes Leslie Felperin in Variety. "More generous souls will find in this an original perspective brought to bear on a complex figure with a fascinatingly chequered career."

Update, 5/22: "The movie - and by that we mean YouTube collection of footage - is the most absurdly self-indulent hodgepodge of a picture we've ever seen (and we've been to Tribeca)," blogs the Hollywood Reporter's Steven Zeitchik.

Update, 5/23: "Unexpectedly, much of the film is about politics," notes the Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu. "Maradona says he would die for Castro, appears on platforms with Hugo Chávez, and describes Bush as a 'piece of human garbage.'"

Coverage of the coverage: Cannes 08.

Last year: Cannes @ 60. And Cannes 06.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 21, 2008 5:45 AM