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Recommended at Cine las Americas

<i>La Vida Útil</i>
La Vida Útil

2) 'La Vida Útil'

At first, the days and nights of soft-spoken film programmer Jorge (played by Jorge Jellinek) seem to be devoted exclusively to running an underfunded repertory screening house in Uruguay: wrangling finances, snarfing down takeout in the projection booth, taping translations to audiocassette to run alongside the night's feature. Then we see him nervously wave a woman named Paola (Paola Venditta) into a show at no cost and later, alongside a wall decorated with Eadweard J. Muybridge's iconic The Horse in Motion, he paces thoughtfully in silhouette. Finally, he emerges into light and practices his pickup to empty air: "Wanna go for a coffee?"

When the Cinemateca abruptly closes, Jorge is a man stripped of his life's work. Ah, but the movies haven't abandoned him. La Vida Útil (A Useful Life) loosens here from a mostly fixed camera to a suddenly spry, playful thing, with Eduardo Fabini's score cycling through genre-movie tropes as Jorge wanders around town and tries on personae. It's as if, quite charmingly, he's decided after so many years in the dark of a theatre that it's time to top-bill in his own movie. At the barbershop, he's a gunslinger, staring down his briefcase; at the wishing well, he's all Nouvelle Vague, making faces at the fish; at the university, he's suddenly Fred Astaire, gliding up and down the steps as he waits for his would-be inamorata to get out of the class. He's a natural.

Tuesday, April 26, 6:30pm, Alamo South Lamar

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