A Useful Life

2010 [SPANISH]


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled48%
IMDb Rating6.410993

cinema on cinema

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

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720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
606.15 MB
Spanish 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 5 min
P/S 1 / 13
1.1 GB
Spanish 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 5 min
P/S 0 / 19

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by motor-110 / 10

"A useful life" will take part of my list of great films list : have irony, humor, beauty, and an unusual ending,

The first time I saw ''A useful life'' was in a special screening for a group of old critics and journalists. It was in a little theater on a early afternoon. I must confess that I'm a film addicted, however I felt like an alien among all these people who knows film better than me. "A useful life" starts as a old comedy. When Jorge appears using old fashioned technologies, I couldn't contain my laugh because it remind me people and institutions I know in many countries who use audio or video- cassettes tapes and others obsolete media ways to do things, it woke me up tenderness. In the year of 2010 Jorge and his Cinematheque represents an obsolete way of living however it is a real way in many parts of the world. A old fashioned cinema world into the real world, "A Useful Life'' smells this contradiction showing us this bizarre way of living, and reflected warmly. I remembered other films of cinema within the cinema: Cinema Paradise, The Purple Rose of Cairo and my favorite B&W movie: Sunset Boulevard. "A useful life" takes part of this great films list, irony, humor, beauty, and an unusual ending, I like these type of movies. When the film reach its turning point and Jorge starts out his new way of life I felt the energy and enthusiastic expressions of the public, it was incredible! we were happy knowing that he and his way of living can survive, it was a common feeling in the room: cinema can be safe. To people like me, theater, B&W movies, Cinematheques, and movies like "A useful life" cannot disappear, neither dinosaurs.

Reviewed by ficju10 / 10

An excellent and original work of art and an sincere homage to film love

In black and white, with non professional actors, and a minimal story with slow pace, it might seem another boring and pretentious experimental work. Quite the contrary it's a fascinating, melancholic hilarious and delicate testimony of some people's true love to cinema. People that work all their lives in film archives and cinemateques,and that dedicate their existence to preserve films, exhibit them and educate audiences, have never been better reflected in a movie. Going to in counter-current with the trivialization of the media and dominating pop culture full of vacuous digital "special effects", this work appeals to real "special affects" in order to introduce us to the daily work in the uruguayan Cinemateque, one of the most respected of the continent. It's not a documentary, although at moments it might feel better than one in approaching it's characters, most of them people who really work at the cinemateque or in the case of Jorge who are film critics, not actors. The surprise comes at the second part of the film, when reality and fantasy overlap and when the main character makes a strange and illuminating voyage through the streets of Montevideo in search of love and to reinvent himself through cinema. A precious jewel recommended only to those with sensibility and intelligence to appreciate this sincere declaration of love.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp8 / 10

Film library abandoned for movie-going -- possible romance?

Federico Veiroj's succinct (67-minute) feature was shot in color and converted to black and white to suggest old movies -- which are the chief concern of Jorge (played by film critic Jorge Jellinek),the protagonist. He is a big, tall, amiably nerdy, pear-shaped man with tinted glasses, out of style like his clothes. He is the manager of the Cinemateca Uruguaya of Montevideo, Uruguay, and he has been doing this for twenty-five years,but it's beginning to look like that may soon come to an end. He and the director confer, trade film series to watch, go over the declining fortunes and physical plant of their operation. The film library may be disintegrating. Ticket sales are not brisk. The projectors are in need of multiple repairs. Even the seats in the auditoriums are giving out. The director's and manager's weekly radio broadcasts are charming, smooth, but rather dry. The director uses a microphone to broadcast live translations in Spanish of the English subtitles for McTeague and von Stroheim's Greed. For a while this movie looks like it's going amiably nowhere, though its loving contemplation of outmoded technologies -- tapes, faxes, telegrams, pay phones, Russian projectors with special lights no longer replaceable -- has the atmospheric charm of a world where people are excited about Italian films of the Sixties; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari; or the way Prokofiev's music shapes the battle sequence of Alexander Nevsky and the structure of Citizen Kane becomes clear only after multiple viewings. Then outside the Cinemateca Jorge meets an old friend called Paola (Paola Venditto),who has come for a screening. He gives her a comp ticket. He waits patiently for her to come out and invites her for coffee. No, she says, she has too many exams to grade. But she shows interest. Suddenly a little flower opens up.

And a big flower closes. The corporation that has been supporting the Cinemateca announces to Jorge and his boss, the director (Manuel Martínez Carril, actual former Cinemateca director) that it can unfortunately no longer support organizations that do not show any profit. Meanwhile the landlord threatens eviction within a few days because the rent has not been paid for eight months.

A Useful Life turns gradually around after the Cinemateca is closed. Jorge does a little dance, literally and figuratively. He gets an expensive haircut, one so elegant you can hardly tell his hair has been cut at all, though it's been beautifully washed and combed. He skips up and down some big marble steps, as if remembering a Fred Astaire routine. Then he goes to the university, where he enters a classroom along with the students and gives an impromptu and surprisingly fluent little lecture on the nature and necessity of lying -- till the real professor comes in and he departs. Finally he waits outside the university buildings until he finds Paola coming out of her class, and asks her: Would you like to go to the movies? "The movies?" Paola asks, pausing. Why yes, she would. And with old movie music playing in a montage of classic finales, Paola and Jorge go off into the magical darkness of the streets of downtown Montevideo as evening falls. It is a beautiful and hopeful ending.

Veiroj is working with things he knows and people he knows. The actors are not far from their real selves, and unlike some cases of that, they fit into themselves comfortably. Veiroj himself worked at the Cinemateca. (It has not, in reality, been forced to close.) But above all the film captures a slow pace and gentle end-of-the-world melancholy that perhaps only Uruguay, or the Patagonia of Carlos Sorin, can evoke. Special kudos to the director for his skill in using non-actors, in particular the way he makes Jorge Jellinek come alive and seem, after all, an attractive man. The fancy hairdresser brings that out: middle- aged though he may be, Jorge has beautiful thick head of glossy black hair. His radio talks and impromptu university lecture show his silver tongue. And his towering height, as the dance up and down the stairs shows, is both impressive and nimble.

Una vida útil is a simple but accomplished film, a short-short story rather than a novel. It develops its milueu and its characters with a sure touch. You might want to contrast this with Davide Ferrario's more commercial and elaborate After Midnight/Dopo mezzonotte (2004),starring Giorgio Pasotti, a film in which the magical Mole Antonelliana (the cavernous Museum of Cinema in Turin, Italy) is the setting for a very unlikely love story. Not as economical by a long sight (the plot gets a bit complicated at the end),but the setting is remarkable.

Shown as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival of April- May 2011. The film opened in Uruguay in August 2010, in Canada and Spain in September. It had a brief run in New York in January 2011 and was a New York Times Critic's Pick reviewed by Jeannette Catsoulis. Global Film Initiative is the distributor.

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