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Archive for October 30th, 2012

by R. D. Finch

What the hell do you write about a movie directed by Luis Buñuel?  His films don’t deal directly with social, political, or ethical issues, so a discussion of theme isn’t really relevant. Even on the rare occasions he worked with major stars like Simone Signoret or Catherine Deneuve, he used actors essentially as extensions of his imagination, so a discussion of personalities and performances doesn’t hold much promise either. Also out is the topic of style. Though admired by bold film stylists like Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell, Buñuel was himself one of the most straightforward of directors, his style virtually a definition of the expression “invisible technique.” Yet he was in a way the ultimate auteur director, forging a creative identity not through subject or style, but by vividly showing us his own wholly idiosyncratic view of the world, his personal alternate reality, in one film after another. While other directors have also attempted this, I can’t think of one who has used this approach so prolifically, so adroitly, or so intelligibly as Buñuel.

Like a number of Buñuel’s later films, his 1972 comic masterpiece The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is organized not around a traditional rising and falling arc of action but, like a piece of music, around a theme and a set of variations. Here the theme is six people—three men and three women—trying to sit down for a meal and repeatedly getting interrupted before they can get started. The variations consist of their trying time after time to dine, only to be thwarted again. No matter what the circumstances, they just can’t seem to finish a meal. It’s perpetually delayed gratification, the gastronomic equivalent of involuntary coitus interruptus. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 1977 102m) DVD1/2

Anyone for Demis Roussos?

Margaret Matheson  d/w  Mike Leigh  play  Mike Leigh  art  Kenneth Sharp

Alison Steadman (Beverly), Janine Duvitski (Angela), Tim Stern (Laurence), John Salthouse (Tony) Harriet Reynolds (Sue),

Remember when you were a kid and one of your parents dragged you off to visit some elderly or distant relative you’d never heard of and forced you to sit there for hours before taking your leave?  Or the weekend trips to see grandparents and the endless periods of fidgeting and being told to sit still while you endured the torture on the sofa and just wanted to get home to finish whatever game you happened to be playing before you were so unceremoniously dragged from your room?  Well, imagine that discomfort, multiply it by the square of infinity and you still haven’t got within light years of the discomfort of Mike Leigh’s seminal work.  Some films are to be watched and savoured, while others are to be endured. (more…)

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