Once in a Lifetime [1932]

The 2006 World Cup brought a plethora of soccer films (OK, three) to the cineplex. The most entertaining is this '70s-infused documentary of the New York Cosmos and the brief life of the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Cosmos rose to the pinnacle of success in the league, bringing in many famous players from around the globe including German Franz Beckenbauer, Italian Giorgio Chinaglia, and most notably, Brazilian Pele, the most famous athlete in the world. For a brief, shining moment, these players and the league made soccer hip and viable to a country who hardly embraced the sport beyond pre-teens kicking the funny ball around. The film delves in those who knew Warner Brothers honcho Steve Ross, who funded his passion and lingered in the spotlight. The fast and breezy doc has a great array of music to power through the talking heads, including players, commissioners, agents, coaches, and even Henry Kissinger. The high-scoring Chinaglia is painted as a villain type, who charmed Ross and--now on camera--some of us as he recounts the days. Other players, like Cosmos goalie Shep Messing, recall wonderful stories about being a hack one week to playing with the greatest ever the next. The yarn of brining Pele to America is nearly half the film; an incredible story of dreams, egos, and dollars. The fact he is not interviewed for this film is inconsequential. He's better received as a legend, and deservedly so. --Doug Thomas

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