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With: Jamang Lodro, Neten Chokling, Lama Chonjor, Orgyen Tobygal
Written by: Khyentse Norbu
Directed by: Khyentse Norbu
MPAA Rating: G
Language: Hindi, Tibetan, with English subtitles
Running Time: 93
Date: 03/18/2013

The Cup (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Simple Pleasures

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Many of us may imagine Buddhist monks sitting around, meditating, studying, praying, or chanting. But according to the new movie The Cup, which is eligible for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, they also have other interests. The film takes place in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the exiled Tibetans live. When a young Buddhist who likes to sneak out of the monastery at night to watch soccer games gets caught, he frets that he will miss the World Cup game. So he arranges, at the partial expense of two new recruits, to have a television brought into the monastery so that everyone can enjoy the game.

The Cup is directed by Khyentse Norbu, an actual Buddhist monk, who apprenticed under Bernardo Bertolucci when that director was filming his Little Buddha (1994). The Cup is a lovely, delightful, and quiet movie that's easy to swallow and doesn't disrupt the patterns of the world, a work that mass audiences can enjoy, along the lines of Like Water for Chocolate (1993), Shall We Dance? (1997), and Life Is Beautiful (1998). You can see this in the scenes of young monks during a prayer ritual passing back and forth slips of paper with their soccer predictions scrawled on them. These are warmly irreverent, but they lack the supreme poetry of the young Dalai Lama happily watching a rat move about the temple in Martin Scorsese's Kundun (1997).

I would especially recommend The Cup to kids, who often have poor quality movies like Snow Day shoved down their throats. Any kid who is old enough to read subtitles will love The Cup. It opens our eyes a little wider to the world and gives us two hours of movie wonder with sweet humor.

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