Friday, April 15, 2011

Luis Buñuel: Un Chien Andalou, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgoisie

Netflix Watch Instantly has films that bookend the career of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, who worked in Spain, Mexico, and France for most of his filmmaking career.  The first film listed below is possibly the most famous surrealist short ever made, Un Chien Andalou, his first collaboration with Salvador Dali which caused a scandal when it was premiered in 1929.  Part of the inspiration for this entry was watching Gregg Araki's Kaboom the other night (not that great, but I digress) which featured a 19-year old film major protagonist.  As he explains his interest in film studies, we see a clip from Un Chien Andalou that almost everyone sees in a film studies course at some point, namely the eyeball sequence (don't want to be a spoiler, but the image is so iconic and it is featured in the cover image that I've pasted below).  I was genuinely surprised by the response to the clip within the film that night, as one audience member was genuinely shocked by an image that I've now seen so many times that I've forgotten its power.  With that in mind, it occurred to me that not everyone is as familiar with Un Chien Andalou as they should be (even though it is often cited in clips in films like Kaboom).  It is kind of an odd choice for Netflix Watch Instantly, as I'm not sure if there are many 15 minute films available on the service.  But if you've never seen it, you now have no excuse, since it is as easy as clicking it into your queue.

That said, I also realized that I now have no excuse for not seeing the late Buñuel films that are currently available in Netflix Watch Instantly, namely The Discreet Charm of the Bourgoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire.  I'm not sure how I've managed not to see them at this point (I guess the latest Buñuel that I've seen is Belle de Jour with Catherine Denuve).  So the other day I dutifully added them to the "In My Queue" section on the top of the website, and I will report back to you when I've finally caught up with them.

Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali, France, 1929, 15 minutes)
Netflix: Artist Salvador Dali and novice (at the time) director Luis Buñuel came together to craft this unique film consisting of a jarring collage of absurd and deplorable images aimed at raising more than a few eyebrows. Images include a razor slicing a woman's eye, a man hauling a giant piano, ants circling a hole in a man's hand and more, including assorted detached body parts and futile murders. Originally a silent film, a score was later added. Netflix link.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgoisie (Luis Buñuel, France, 1972, 101 minutes)
Netflix: In Luis Buñuel's deliciously satiric, Oscar-winning masterpiece, an upper-class sextet (Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Bulle Ogier and Jean-Pierre Cassel) sits down to dinner but never eats, their attempts repeatedly thwarted by a vaudevillian mixture of events both actual and imagined. Perhaps his greatest film, Buñuel's absurdist view of the upper class is a timeless satire about consumerism and class privilege. Netflix link.

That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Buñuel, France, 1977, 103 minutes)
Netflix: Adapted from the novel La Femme et le Pantin by Pierre Louys, this Oscar-nominated erotic dark comedy was Luis Buñuel's final film. The story follows, in flashback, middle-aged Mathieu (Fernando Rey) and his obsession for the much younger, moody Conchita (played by both Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina). The two play a continuous tug-of-war with each other's desires, each trying to outlast the other at their own game. Netflix link.

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