Infinite Football scores on own goal

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      A documentary by Corneliu Porumboiu. In Romanian, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable

      Infinite patience is required of viewers who stumble upon Infinite Football, which struggles to find its cinematic feet, even at a paltry 70 minutes, all shot carelessly on a consumer-grade camera. That said, followers of the Beautiful Game and eastern European history won’t be unduly penalized by time spent with a true eccentric who intersects both subjects.

      The film will garner some attention from fans of Romanian upstart Corneliu Porumboiu, who directed such festival hits as 12:08 East of Bucharest and Police, Adjective. The subject here is bland-looking, middle-aged Laurentiu Ginghina, a promising high-school footballer until two devastating injuries took him out of the game. He ended up a midlevel administrator in the post-Communist government. (We see him sitting passively as an elderly woman pursues her claim to regain seized property.) But his real passion has been refining and reinventing the game of soccer toward increasingly obscure ends.

      The director is happy to let him elaborate his ever-shifting theories. These include shaving off the corners of a standard field and putting a barrier between halves, with five players from each team cordoned into sections. It’s hard to know what the point might be, except that everything seems to restrict the motion of actual footballers, and increase what he calls “the freedom of the ball”.

      “I’m still working on how to get the ball from one half to the other,” he adds later, as an afterthought. He even gets some amateur players to try his alternate plans, to frustrating effect. “It’s clear that FIFA will never accept anything like this,” Ginghina admits. The film ends, unexpectedly, with a long disquisition on Plato and the perils of translation, with Jesus’s New Testament exhortation to “Repent!” actually intended to mean “Change!” This is followed by credits rolling over a Soviet-era cartoon. Rules, like religions and political systems, are meant to be bent and then broken.

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