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High-Pitched Drama

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If the theatrics of this summer's Copa Mundial have you hooked, three movies playing this week serve up enough passion, pique and soccer-inspired drama to put the fake-foul antics of today's players to shame.

On Tuesday July 4th, the enthusiasts at the Hollywood Football Association put on a special InterFootball Day at the Egyptian Theatre. They'll screen Goal! World Cup 1966, which tells of the glorious — if you're a English football fan — summer when England won the World Cup. A showing of Go-Go! Mania, about the British reinvasion of America (in the pop music sense) precedes it. Guests can chow on light summery fare like bangers & mash and drink tea, if by tea one means pints of Bass and Boddingtons. The pro-Redcoat party starts at 4 p.m. and goes till 10 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $40.

For a bit more modern take on football, circa 1977, the American Film Institute on Thursday July 6 shows Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos. New York City in the late 1970's was a seedy if flamboyant place — the city came close to bankruptcy, serial killer Son of Sam terrorized the streets, and glam-factory Studio 54 prepared to open. Residents spared little attention for the New York Cosmos, the city's ramshackle soccer team, made up of "a ragbag assembly of students, foreigners and part-timers," writes author Gavin Newsom. Then the Cosmos signed Brazilian soccer superstar Pelé. Mayhem ensued. The team used to give tickets away with Burger King vouchers; with Pelé and other big names in tow, they sold out every game and counted Mick Jagger as a fan. But the popularity proved short-lived: post-Pelé, the Cosmos franchise collapsed. Soccer would have to wait till Mia Hamm and the blooming of the suburban soccer leagues for Americans to take notice of the "beautiful game" again. A Q&A with director Paul Crowder and producer John Battsek follows the screening.

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Meanwhile, Goal! The Dream Begins, a new movie about a quick-footed but poor Los Angeleno soccer player who gets a chance to play for England's Newcastle United, is still showing in some theaters. But you'll have to drive all the way out to Riverside or Pomona.

Or you can just wait for Tuesday's Germany vs. Italy match and watch the real, and put on, agony begin again.