Monday, September 17, 2007

Movie Chat: Offside

A couple of years ago I was a fairly active participant (for a few months at least) on an invitation-only movie buff message board. At one point I mentioned how much I liked Late August, Early September and someone replied with a comment along the lines of: "Oh, French movies are so passe: these days I'm really into Iranian cinema."

Now, there are quite a few insulting misconceptions packed into that statement. Like: we should treat movies from different countries in a "flavor of the month"-style.

I have to admit, though, those comments helped keep me away from Iranian cinema. I know, I know: that's completely unfair. But my guess is that it's also pretty normal: it's easier to stop judging a book by its cover than it is to stop judging it by its readers.

Anyway, all of this is just to say that when I watched Offside this weekend it was only the third Iranian film I've ever seen so I am not qualified, by any means, to talk about it in terms of Iranian film in general. That won't stop me from saying that, compared to Close-Up , the movie seemed to suffer from having an amateur cast. Or rather, suffered from having such an inconsistent amateur cast: some of the performers did quite nicely, others struggled, the overall effect was a bit of mess. Close-Up, IMO, gets away with that because it folds the whole amateur cast thing into its entire thematic/conceptual purpose. Offside, though, seems like a much more conventional movie: a social problem movie that is both (a) very smart about the problem and (b) genuinely funny about the problem. Regardless, I feel like I'm committing some awful act of post-colonial oppression by saying that it really could have used a bit more polish.

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