was sort of like the Romanian equivalent of the Army-Navy Game, but with
bizarrely ominous implications. Dinamo was affiliated with the secret police,
while Steaua was the Army team, handpicked by Ceausescu’s son. Corneliu
Porumboiu’s father refereed a moderately memorable meeting of the two football
(soccer) teams. He will revisit the videotapes of that snowy 1988 match with
his filmmaker son throughout the low-fi un-doc-like The Second Game (trailer here), which screens during the Film Society of
Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real film series.
Porumboiu was clearly the sort of ref who believed in putting the whistle in
his pocket during pivotal moments of a game. Of course, it made a lot of sense
to just let teams like Steaua and Dinamo settle it on the field, rather than
risk deciding matters himself. Many aspects of the game have changed since
1988, including an EU mandate requiring the privatization of government agency
affiliated teams. The fact that this match-up takes place a year before the
fall of Ceausescu would seem to be highly symbolic, but neither Porumboiu
overplays that card.
we hear far more regarding the senior Porumboiu’s thoughts on how to properly
officiate a game, which is sort of interesting, for a while. Still, the less
than pristine archival footage occasionally opens up a small window into the
mechanisms of the Communist police state. Given the teams’ social-political significance,
the cameramen never show the fighting or bouts of poor sportsmanship that
periodically erupted on field, panning the crowd instead. Of course, this would
leave home viewers inevitably confused when televised coverage finally resumed.
seems like there ought to be more there there to Second Game than there really is. While the circumstances
surrounding the match are fascinating on paper, viewers are really just
watching a twenty six year old football match with occasional bits of color
commentary. Frankly, the Porumboius do not pace themselves well, or even bother
to turn off their cell phones.
If you cover film, Second Game offers a handy opportunity to examine how the
totalitarian Socialist state manipulated mass media. If you actually want to
immerse yourself in a cinematic experience, Porumboiu’s latest is a tough go. Of
more interest to film students analyzing Porumboiu’s life and work (such as the
deliberately paced but more rewarding Police, Adjective and 12:08 East of Bucharest)
than those intrigued by the Cold War era, Second
Game is odd programming choice for Art of the Real. For those determined to
partake, it screens this Friday (4/11) and the following Monday (4/14) at the
Francesca Beale Theater.
Labels: Art of the Real '14, Corneliu Porumboiu, Documentary, Romanian Cinema