Archive for the ‘Directed by Luis Bunuel’ Category

L’Age d’Or

05 Feb

L’Age d’Or – directed by Luis Bunuel. Farce. 63 minutes Black and White 1930.


The Story: A sexual predator pursues a young woman through the ages, just as she wants him to.

The account of the making and history of this film on Wikipedia might be more interesting for you to peruse than the film itself, which seems amateur, cold, and jejune. Originally it was deemed scandalous. It was banned. It was a cause celebre. It was scorned by entire national governments and whole religions. Its producer removed it from circulation almost at once, and it was not shown for over 40 years, except at The Museum Of Modern Art, which somehow acquired a print. Now it can be seen. It is worth it to?

Everyone in gowns and tuxedos at a high–tone cocktail party in a palace; enter a huge oxcart manned by drunken peasants; the cocktailers do not notice them. Five popes pray on a seaside cliff; five starving peons crawl out to kill them; none of them make it; next shot, a hundred years later, the popes’ skeletons and skulls in their robes remain on the cliff. In the middle of performing Tristan and Yseult, the white bearded conductor charges off the stage and finds a young woman making out with another man and takes her in her arms and they kiss, badly. So you see, it wears all the medals of the pataphysicians, the Dadaists, the surrealists. Or all their counterfeits. There is other stuff, but I won’t say more, because it is clear that the movie has been set up to house one joke after another. It’s a flip-book.

Moreover, I found it hard to engage with the success or failure of the couple to consummate their romance, because the man is quite mad and crazy-violent, and because the female is not appealing.

It’s not my dish of tea. But then, Bunuel is not my dish of tea. What is it I do not like about him? His want of a sense of humor. His meanness. His puritanism. His want of lushness, growing things, eccentricity, foible. His conservatism. His clericalism, for he is not anti-church; the church is in everything I have seen him do. His lack of human warmth. Dali, whose name is on it, disowned it.

Take away from me that gelid  social fundamentalist. That Jesuit.. That Robespierre of film.

Give me Jean Renoir.

And we may hope again for a world safe for Democracy.


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Posted in Directed by Luis Bunuel, Farce, Filmed in France


Public Enemies

14 Dec

Public Enemies – directed by Michael Mann – action adventure drama . Bank robber John Dillinger is hunted down by idealist G-man Melvin Purvis. 2 hours and 20 minutes color 2009.


Shot with an impenetrable suavity that dooms it, we are kept from this picture even as we try to penetrate its tricks, its angles, its lighting, its attitude of Aren’t We Making A Movie Though! For it is a movie, not about its characters or story, but about Movie Making. Yet, for all its technical virtuosity, it is badly recorded, so one cannot hear what people say. Christian Bale, he of the face of shattered glass, plays Melvin Purvis the man who tracks down John Dillinger in 1934 , but although false calling seems to be the key to his character, we have no sense that Purvis is in the wrong profession, beyond a certain natural distaste for the distasteful aspects of it. This is partly because Depp’s line to Bale about it is inaudible, and partly because Bale is an English actor playing a Southern aristocrat, and Southern aristocrats have hotter blood, hot blood being a gift beyond Bale’s capacity. Cold blood, yes, hot blood no. Johnny Depp is playing a part ideally suited to Brad Pitt, that is to say the part of a man whose sexual appeal seduces everyone in sight, male or female and who is a lot of fun. And Marion Cottillard is appealing but she too is not American. She brings a great deal to the part, and is probably the best actor up there, but she has everything but Van Camp’s Pork And Beans, which is the one thing you need in that role. The shame and the blame lies with the director, though. The nine-lives story of Dillinger’s elusive, cat-like, getaways and the drying up of his career are clear and interesting and cautionary for us all. On his deathbed, Dillinger, wearing a Clark Gable mustache, watched Gable in Manhattan Murder. Public Enemies needed to be shot with the simple plainness of the gangster movies of its era, the 30s, instead of as this affected and fancy farrago.



Belle de Jour

11 Oct

Belle de Jour — directed by Luis Bunuel — a good looking young newly wed declines to have sex with her handsome husband but loves to do so as a whore with every slob who drops by — 100 minutes color — 1967.

* * * *

I seems Bunuel does not know anything about sex. The idea that this movie is really supposed to be about something else — society, the church, the price of vegetables in Paris — is silly. It seems he made the film with no sense of its subject matter, which has to do with the effect on a young woman of having been molested as a girl. In fact, all we are supposed to believe is that she would not have sex with her hubby but really and only wants to have it with the crumbs who turn up in a house whose madame hires her for afternoon tricks. Deneuve plays the lady with her chilling upper-eyelids in their usual position, and the problem with that is the problem of her entire career, built on playing just such manikins when, in fact, she was a light comedienne of great ability. We are supposed to believe she does not care about sex, but her hair is arranged to a fair-thee-well and her eyelashes precede her into a room by three weeks. Deneuve may be one or two things, but, unlike, as with Grace Kelly whom she so resembles, none of them is “fun”. The film is not mysterious, it is not ambiguous, it is not even a masterpiece of prevarication, and who cares if it were any of these things. The style is flat, routine, uninflected. The dialogue is pulp. The erotic scenes are puerile. But the actors in it are so good they lend the piece a quality of seriousness and craft that almost makes one take it seriously. These include Jean Sorel as a husband so sexy, young, good looking, and kind it defies probability that she should decline his advances. Michael Piccoli plays the friend who has her number. And Genevieve Page is superb as the smart lesbian madam who teaches Deneuve the ropes. Sometimes Bunuel actually makes a picture; at other times he makes a picture about a picture. This may be one of the second sort — aloof, political, biased, and prim.


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