Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Useful Life

Before this afternoon's showing of A Useful Life at the San Francisco International Film Festival, programmer Sean Uyehara noted that this is the point in the festival where audience fatigue sets in, & he urged us to pace ourselves. This was good advice for my movie companion, who was trying to figure out how to see 5 movies on Sunday.

The program opened with Protoparticles, a black-and-white short from Spain depicting a man in a space suit going about mundane activities, such as throwing the trash or working as a supermarket checker. A dry voice-over informs us how he got there & what is to be his fate.

The main feature was A Useful Life, a gentle comedy from Uruguay running just over an hour. It follows the misadventures of a dowdy, affectless, middle-aged man working in a small art-house cinema. Halfway through the film, his insular existence comes to an end when the cinema is closed down. The joke of the film — I think — is how it mimics art movies of the 40s & 50s. The film is in grainy black-and-white, & the pacing is slow & obvious. The soundtrack seems borrowed from some classic film of the period. When our hero got a haircut to the strains of the serene ballet music from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, I began to suspect the whole thing of being a parody, only I'm not sure what of.

§ La Vida Útil
Uruguay, 2010, 67 min
director, Federico Veiroj

Spain, 7 min
director, Chema García Ibarra

San Francisco International Film Festival 54
Sun, Apr 24 12:00 / New People
Mon, Apr 25 7:00 / PFA
Sat, Apr 30 3:45 / Kabuki

No comments: