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"The Cup"

"The Cup" scores with soccer-loving monks

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The Cup is set in a Tibetan monastery-in-exile in the foothills of the Himalayas, and the spaciousness and calm is lulling. But this is also a movie about the vagaries of the monastic life, centering on young monks obsessed with World Cup soccer. The Bhutanese director, Khyentse Norbu, is an incarnate lama and throne-holder of a monastery in eastern Tibet, but his touch is playful, not lordly. The movie, which is slight but resonant, both mystifies and demystifies. We get a sense of the disciplinarian order but also of how that order is changing: The abbot (Lama Chonjor) who longs to return to Tibet and who keeps his bags packed understands that the tradition he has devoted his life to is slipping away. Will these young monks ever know what Tibet is like? Their fascination with soccer gives them a way to create a community of their own, and their avidity, far from impious, is a sign of life.


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