Maradona by Kusturica

Chris: Jesus Christ, probably the most irrelevant, poorly constructed, fluff and most offensive (I mean that) documentary I have ever seen.

Pegamequemegusta: I presume you are referring to the Kusturica drivel. I think it lasted two hours. I can’t be sure. I lost track of time, which was advancing both excruciatingly slowly, given how dull the self-obsessed Serb managed to make the proceedings, and yet too fast, given the amount of faults proliferating in every frame.

You knew you were watching a very special piece of utter wank when he started referring to his own films as if they were the wheels on the canon of cinema (I know). After the first twenty minutes, I put a higher watt bulb in the ceiling. After 40 minutes I decided that it must be in two parts – this is just the exposition, there will be blood, soon; the myth is being built up only to be ruthlessly slam-debunked; this panegyric will soon turn foul and nasty like a grizzled gyro-vendor outside the Parc des Princes. After an hour, alas, it continued in the same clogged vein. It then occurred to me that it was an ingeniously perverse twist to talk so much about himself: was it some kind of ironic send up of Maradona, the original jibber-jabber and self-promoter, a self-proclaimed God? But no, Kusturica really did think those scenes with his brother, his mom and his son were relevant in some way. He thought he was giving us a portrait of Maradona the man, a man, he proclaimed, were it not for football would have been a revolutionary.

There was more self-serving nonsense and scandalous, wilful ignorance in the politics espoused. Maradona attacking Bush is good for a laugh, but taking Maradona’s word on the Malvinas as final as insightful in some way, was nonsense: there’s no mention whatsoever of the dictatorship that provoked the war and sent ill-equipped kids to their deaths for nothing, while Diego’s absurdity about how England could have wiped Argentina off the planet with the push of a button is given credence as it somehow relates to the NATO bombing of Belgrade! Likewise, showing the usual destruction by tosser anarchists in the Cumbre de las Américas in Mar del Plata – making their anti-capitalist point by smashing up a local sweet shop, the geniuses – was pretty far from being a useful commentary; while talking about Fiorito in Buenos Aires while showing images of a rubbish dump elsewhere in the city was downright misleading.

The next most offensive piece of gizz this wretched car crash had to offer were the cartoons. Complete with God Save the Queen as background music. For no apparent reason, every now and again we were treated to comic interludes where Diego would dribble the ball around despicable cunts like Maggie Thatcher, the Queen, George bush and Tony Blair, who was depicted as a demon of some kind. Utterly senseless, witless, graceless and boring.

Not even the walking quote machine that is Maradona couldn’t get this sham off the ground. He didn’t seem to have any connection whatsoever with Kusturica, who seemed to think he was his friend (when he appeared on Maradona’s show he didn’t even seem to remember him). To increase the sense that they were actually talking to each other like old buddies, he cut out all the translations. Fair enough, who wants to listen to an interpreter? But it was horribly edited and it left the finished product more pockmarked than a newly-arrived Tibetan teenager in the lusty throes of a truffle affair.

Kosturica asked Maradona who his favourite actor was. Kusturica would no doubt like to be asked this: he could speak at length about it, make comparisons, tell anecdotes, etc. After all, he makes films. Maradona’s answer was actually quite good: Robert De Niro, he said, particularly in Raging Bull, before pumping his arms and making an “aaggghhhhh!” sound. I think he meant to say that he felt an affinity with Jake La Motta and that he felt the film was well made.

He couldn’t, though, as although he’s a funny bastard and comes up with great lines, el Diego is not a particularly eloquent man. Although he has a great capacity for vivid imagery (“La pelota no se mancha”, “A alguien se le escapó la tortuga”, “Havelange sells the guns, Blatter the bullets,” etc.), when he finds himself at a loss for words, his usual recourses are profanity and/or insults. Egotistical ‘distorsions’ and lies apart, therefore, it is a great mistake to forego narrative, a story arc and any sense of direction, and base your entire work on la palabra de Dios, especially when you have no connection with the bloke, don’t speak the same language and you take a keen interest in his politics.

The fact is that Maradona is great because he was the best footballer of all time. Not a revolutionary, not a politician, nor a political analyst, not a motivational speaker, not a singer nor a dancer; a footballer. He was brilliant as, apart from natural genius, he spent every bloody minute of his life playing football, just like Johnny Marr or whoever else you want to name spent all this time playing the guitar. As he says in the documentary – without any follow-up question – the few minutes he’d spend inside he used to spend heading the ball against the wall. That’s what made him brilliant: when you see the famous interview with him when he was 15, he says he wants to play in a World Cup and win it. He doesn’t say he wants to fight against the IMF by scoring against the English. He scored the best goal of all time against the England football team, not against los ingleses, no matter what he says. Of course it’s funny to hear him say it, but to take him seriously, Kusturica? Jaysus you’re an eejit.

Finally, the documentary seems to have been filmed over two years. Kusturica is part of Maradona’s entourage in Buenos Aires and as he travels through Naples, Belgrade and one or two other places. Maradona’s appearance changes wildly throughout, Michael Jackson-style, and the filming is interrupted once or twice. Why? Because Maradona’s in a jock and travelling around the world for appearance money is the only thing that keeps the money coming in so he can support his insalubrious lifestyle and numerous hangers-on. He should be fine but the money gets pissed away. Kusturica never asks about money or health nor does he mention them in the narrative. As in everything else, he takes Maradona at his word, apparently refusing to question him any further. And what could he say? For Kusturica is just another hanger-on, an absurd floozy looking to cash in on Maradona with a trashy bit of merchandise. Bad documentary!

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