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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Film Review: 'La vida útil' ('A Useful Life') by Kristi Wilson

On the Decay of the Art of Going to the Movies
by Kristi M. Wilson

  1. Federico Veiroj, La Vida Útil, Uruguay/Spain2010
In their imaginations they saw the cinema as a total and complete representation of reality; they saw in a trice the reconstruction of a perfect illusion of the outside world in sound, color, and relief.  ~Andre Bazin 

It is in the nature of analogical worlds to provoke a yearning for the past...The digital will wants to change the world. ~D. N. Rodowick

'La vida útil' ('A Useful Life') is simultaneously a cinephile’s dream picture, in its stylized look back at the history of cinema, and a biting satire about the fact that in the digital age of reproduction even the art of filmmaking has lost its aura. Uruguayan film buffs will recognize the film enthusiast and regular film festival patron Jorge Jellinek as the film’s central protagonist, Jorge, and the legendary film critic and real-life Cinemateca director Manuel Martínez Carril as a version of himself. Veiroj’s film captures the dying urban experience of going to the neighborhood movie theater—a collective encounter with celluloid and film history that, all over the world, is slowly but surely being replaced by private, digital, on-demand, and Hollywood multiplex practices of viewing. In this dark comedy about one man’s attempt to save Montevideo’s Cinemateca, an independent theater he has managed for 25 years, we get a glimpse of the many traditions that have helped shape the New Latin American cinema, a distinct film movement of which La vida útil can be considered a recent shining example.