This film had a great premise but the execution was clumsy. Women are banned from sports stadiums in Iran, but some women do attend soccer matches by dressing as men. The film followed the stories of several girls who were caught breaking in to the Iran-Bahrain qualifier for the World Cup. The movie was introduced by the director, who explained that the idea for the story came about when his soccer-mad 11-year-old daughter wormed her way into a stadium after being refused entry with him. It was both confronting and fascinating to see quite how emotional the issue was to the Iranian characters--particularly the men. My favourite scene involved one of the soldiers escorting a girl to the (male-only) toilets and employing all sorts of farcical devices to avoid anyone identifying her as a woman and uncovering the transgression. But the absurdity of the entire thing is mind-blowing. The way the women acted more or less successfully as men was also interesting, and I liked the idea it raised that even in such a heavily policed segregated society, transgressions will occur.
As far as I was concerned, this was worth every cent, though the movie itself wasn't spectacular. Essentially it was a character study, a vehicle for Gyllenhaal to show off her acting prowess--fine by me, but it didn't transcend it's purpose in any way. The supporting cast were solid but nothing special. However, I could watch Maggie in just about anything. In this movie she played a young woman just out on parole after having been busting stealing to get money for drugs. Newly 'clean', she longs to reconnect with her daughter and struggles with the harsh reality of returning to a 'normal' life (in fact she lives in an artificial world run by support services and heavily policed). Maggie, as expected, made the character of Sherry very accessible and sympathetic, even in her failures. The heart of the story lay in the damaged and fragile connection between Sherry and her daughter, and Maggie brought to life all the tangled emotions bound up in it (frustration, pathos, anxiety, heartbreak). Also, purple jeans (Saint Etienne song, anyone?!). My favourite scene was Sherry's gorgeously awkward and heart-on-sleeve rendition of 'Eternal Flame', sung to her daughter at the family dinner table.
An inconvenient truth
Everyone knows the subject of this documentary, yes? Essentially it follows Al Gore as he presents his slideshow on global warming. Before and after his campaign for the US presidency, Gore has been travelling from city to city across the world to try and persuade people of the severity of global warming. There was very little that I didn't already know, but it's riveting viewing, and quite terrifying. The doco could be criticised for being US-centric, but that's kind of the point--the US is the world's leading contributor of greenhouse gases. At times it dwelt on Gore's personal life a little too much for my taste. I also wish he'd expended longer on telling people what they could actually do to change things (two minutes at the end, and some rolling advice in the credits wasn't enough if you ask me), but these are very minor complaints about what should be essential viewing for all world citizens. Gore conveys the science very clearly, so I'd recommend this for anyone who is confused about what's really going on when people discuss climate change, freak weather, global warming, etc. The entire cinema whimpered and groaned when it got to the discussion of the Kyoto Protocol and Australia had it's one and only mention in the doco--as the only other industrialised nation not to sign. Our Shame. I really hope this documentary raises discussion of this issue. It certainly motivated me to prioritise these concerns and to raise discussion of these matters with friends and family.
In other news, the Israel-Lebanon war is alternately breaking my heart and enraging me. It's getting to the point where I can barely watch the news. I'm sure my cries of frustration are not appreciated by my boy! Today I watched the Lebanese protest in Melbourne with a feeling of complete impotence. It makes me wish for a swifter-moving, more interventionist UN. There doesn't seem to be even a flicker of hope for a ceasefire any time soon.
That's all I got for now. But as I say, I can see a flicker at the end of the tunnel of busy-ness--not this week, but next week perhaps ...