Saturday, April 21, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.

Kaiser: The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football
Directed by Louis Myles

Sports stars earn an eternal place in celebrity history due to an excitement that watching a live game can provide which other things in life simply cannot. While this reviewer can hardly be considered a sports aficionado, the appeal is clear, and the prevalence of fantasy leagues where participants hedge their bets on their favorite players to go far illustrates just how iconic they can be. Most who earn worldwide acclaim do so because of their demonstrated skill on the field or court, but there are those rare few who are known specifically for the opposite.

Carlos Henrique Raposo, better known as Kaiser, is an incredible figure in the history of sports. The Brazilian soccer star was known for playing on nearly every team he could around the globe, save for one thing: he never actually played. His penchant for faking injuries and telling tale tales illustrates the degree to which Kaiser established a larger-than-life career full of infinite affiliations and accomplishments, none of which involved scoring a goal. Reflecting back upon years of fabrication, Kaiser opens up to the camera about his very critical role in creating a fiction hard to distinguish from the bits of truth embedded within it.

This documentary boasts high production values in its interview sequences and dramatic recreations of moments from Kaiser’s past, either alleged only by him or corroborated by others, which contrast effectively with grainier archive footage of Kaiser’s famous moments on – and mostly absent from – the field. The film’s visual style is energizing and appealing, framing its interview subjects and facts about them as colorfully and creatively. Best of all, those who have the opportunity to share their recollections with the camera are most often amused by the way in which Kaiser’s ridiculous trajectory continues to astound them.

Not everything that comes up during this movie is played for laughs, which helps to give it a certain dramatic potency. Kaiser himself pushed for this story to be told, yet it’s clear at several points throughout the film that he’s hurt by the way in which people perceive him and doesn’t always appreciate being the butt of a joke that he started telling. His passing physical similarity to Tommy Wiseau is appropriate given the way that their fame is based on not exceling at their chosen fields and serving as a source of unintentional entertainment as a result. This documentary does a great job of examining, with wide-eyed wonder, everything that makes up the unique achievements of the greatest footballer never to play football.


No comments: