Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Uruguay Must Choose: "Leo's Room" or "The Useful Life"?

Keeping up with the foreign film Oscar submission announcements is a sisyphean task. Uruguay hasn't announced yet but I'm hearing from an inside source that three different groups of voters weigh in and the field has been narrowed to two films: Leo's Room, a gay drama about coming out, and The Useful Life which is about a film programmer and a dying theater. MUBI calls it "distinctly ungeeky in its cinephilia." Sounds intriguing.

Can you feel the excitement? Soon we'll have our complete list of 60+ subtitled Oscar hopefuls which most of us will never have the opportunity to see... at least not unless we hunt them down over the next couple of years but by then there's two whole new batches of foreign films to track down and you forget all about the ones from two years back*. Wheeeeeeee. (see what I mean about sisyphean? I think the only solution is to look up new film titles on Netflix and click "save" and be surprised 1 to 11 years later when they arrive at your doorstep having made it to DVD and worked their way up your queue)

I'm guessing this is why most cinephiles have one or two particularly countries or regions they specialize in / obsess over. How else to stay on top of world cinema? It's the land of the specialist and I am, alas, but a very scattered generalist.

*at least that's my problem. Distribution moves slowly and my brain moves quickly darting away from one movie to the next, and is long gone by the time a movie opens in one or two theaters two years after its festival premiere. (sigh)


grburbank said...

It's so rare to get a good Sisyphus reference these days. I am also too much of a generalist. It's a good year when I see all five nominated foreign films.

Andrew R. said...

For Uruguay, I have a soft spot for movies about the movies, so I want The Useful Life.

And it's literally impossible to get your hands on all 5 Oscar nominees from a year, let alone every submission or even every winner.

I hate the Academy's rules for this category so much.

Movies with Abe said...

You're completely right about how we'll never get to see most of the films because there are so many more the following years when they finally come out. In 2006, I hit my personal high when I actually managed to see 8 out of the 9 finalists, missing only Vitus, which I've still never seen. That was generally speaking a very good year for the category - Days of Glory, Water, After the Wedding, Avenue Montaigne, The Lives of Others, Pan's Labyrinth, Black Book, and Volver. I'm still appalled that Volver didn't make it in and Water did. I also think that Avenue Montaigne deserved a nomination.


abe -- that was a strong year. and yes on VOLVER but AVENUE MONTAIGNE? ewww. didn't like that one ;)

i have never managed to see all five nominees before the big show. But this year. I'm gonna do it! somehow. i guess it would help if i moved to LA but me no wanna.

in fact i'm not sure i've ever completed a shortlist cuz one or two movies usually take too long to premiere and i give up. but since the mid 80s i've usually managed to see two to three from each year before we're on to the next year.

javi said...

Yay, a post about Uruguay! THE USEFUL LIFE has very strong reviews, but LEO'S ROOM is the sweeter, most accesible film (though critically acclaimed in its own right) so I've no idea what they will go for. I think LEO'S ROOM has more of a shot at Oscar.

Uruguay is still one of a small number of South American countries that has never been nominated, but with the rise of the national industry over the past ten years that may change soon.

Spartak said...

I have watched "Leo's Room" earlier and it's not bad,though I would say that it's quite forgetable film.

About the question,how to watch all those (or at least some of them) films,I have 2 more options for you:
1)Nearly every country (only if you don't leave in Mozambic or Zambia) has its own festivals,most of them has even 2 or more (for example,my country,Israel has 2 "big" festivals).Now it depends,on the kind of festival,but too make it shorter;you can find their about 1-3 films (at least) from the submited one.The only problem that sometimes it goes before the submission is officialy made (for example at summer or even year before).

2)Download it...I know you can say that it's illegal and so on,but tell me please,what is illegal in watching films for free,which you just is not able to pay for (even if you want).
It's the fourth year I am looking after "foreign film Oscar submission" and every year combining those 2 methonds I managed to see about 30 films every year before January's shortlist is announced (and another 6-10 after,with possibility to another 5-6 that I choose not to watch and also the same number of films that doesn't have english subs)...
So it's such a sisyphean task.... :)

Mirko said...

Italy chose THE FIRST BEAUTIFUL THING a dramedy by Paolo Virzì, director of some very nice recent italian comedies

International darling I AM LOVE and DAVID DI DONATELLO's winner THE MAN WHO WILL COME (a tragedy set during WWII) have been overlooked. there was a time Academy loved italian comedies (even the sour ones); could Virzì's movie revive their old passion?

Anonymous said...

Uruguay is the other side of the planet from my perspective. Here in Ireland I came across a copy of "Leo's Room" - what a satisfying piece and despite the worst sets, average cinematography, it has to be the best casting I've seen in many a festival. Leo and his friend ( sorry but I realy could not decipher his name )- the two together on screen are a complete joy. The "can I kiss you" scene is a hoot. At sixty nine and with four children aged forty you ,might well think I should have moved on - Its not that simple. At twenty two I met a guy. We briefly touched - I've never forgotten. A few too many red wines and it hits me like a train - life is indeed strange. Sean