Luis Buñuel – Un chien andalou (1929)

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In a dream-like sequence, a woman’s eye is slit open–juxtaposed with a similarly shaped cloud obsucuring the moon moving in the same direction as the knife through the eye–to grab the audience’s attention. The French phrase “ants in the palms,” (which means that someone is “itching” to kill) is shown literally. A man pulls a piano along with the tablets of the Ten Commandments and a dead donkey towards the woman he’s itching to kill. A shot of differently striped objects is repeatedly used to connect scenes. Written by Ryan T. Casey Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – Nazarín AKA Nazarin (1959)

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Acclaimed director Luis Buñuel displays several of his trademark interests in this drama about a priest who leaves his order. The director´s disdain for organized religion and the establishment, as well as his tendency to shock through visual imagery, are both apparent. Nazarin (Francisco Rabal) is the priest who leaves his order and decides to go on a pilgrimage. As he goes along subsisting on alms, he shelters a prostitute wanted by the police for murder. He is released from suspicion and she eventually catches up with him when she escapes imprisonment. Another woman joins the duo and soon the ex-priest is learning more about the human heart and suffering than when he wore robes. As for the shocking scenes, suffice to say the ravages of a plague are also shown. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – Simón del desierto AKA Simon of the Desert [+Extra] (1965)

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Simon of the Desert is Luis Buñuel’s wicked and wild take on the life of devoted ascetic Saint Simeon Stylites, who waited atop a pillar surrounded by a barren landscape for six years, six months, and six days, in order to prove his devotion to God. Yet the devil, in the figure of the beautiful Silvia Pinal, huddles below, trying to tempt him down. A skeptic’s vision of human conviction, Buñuel’s short and sweet satire is one of the master filmmaker’s most renowned works of surrealism. Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – El AKA This Strange Passion (1953)

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Francisco is rich, rather strict on principles, and still a bachelor. After meeting Gloria by accident, he is suddenly intent on her becoming his wife and courts her until she agrees to marry him. Francisco is a dedicated husband, but little by little his passion starts to exhibit disturbing traits. Nevertheless, Gloria meets with scepticism as she expresses her worries to their acquaintances. Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – Los Olvidados AKA The Young and the Damned [+Extras] (1950)

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Luis Bunuel classic from 1950. It is a tale of savage acts committed by impoverished youths in Mexico City. It is a film that has been kept fresh by its spirit and its style. Far from being puppets in a sermon on poverty, the characters are vivid creatures whose fierce desires are the focus of Bunuel’s attention.
In his unique storytelling, he not only finds forceful images in the dramas reality, but adds a masterful dream sequence.
Genius. Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – Belle de jour (1967)

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Catherine Deneuve’s porcelain perfection hides a cracked interior in one of the actress’s most iconic roles: Séverine, a Paris housewife who begins secretly spending her after­noon hours working in a bordello. This surreal and erotic late-sixties daydream from provocateur for the ages Luis Buñuel is an examination of desire and fetishistic pleasure (its characters’ and its viewers’), as well as a gently absurdist take on contemporary social mores and class divisions. Fantasy and reality commingle in this burst of cinematic transgression, which was one of Buñuel’s biggest hits. (~Criterion) Continue reading

Luis Buñuel – Abismos de pasión AKA Wuthering Heights (1954)

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Unlike William Wyler’s inferior 1939 film adaptation, Luis Buñuel’s Abismos de Pasión is more than a literate extrapolation of Emily Bronte’s gothic masterpiece Wuthering Heights, which certainly must count as one of the five greatest novels of the English language. Though not overtly surreal, Buñuel’s minor classic is fraught with the kind of feverish contradictions typically heir to his cinematic dogma. Critic Manny Farber observed in his eulogy for Val Newton (published in The Nation back in April of 1951) how Jacques Tourneur’s The Leopard Man gives “the creepy impression that human begins and ‘things’ are interchangeable and almost synonymous and that both are pawns of a bizarre and terrible destiny.” Farber felt the Surrealists had never been able to transform the psychological effects of their dramas into a realm of the non-human but, four years later, Buñuel would accomplish something similar with his very Latin rendition of Bronte’s classic. The film’s dreary exteriors (the trees without leaves, the buzzards on constant alert) evoke a landscape of spiritual unrest, a breezy gateway between the living and the dead. While the film arouses the dreaminess of the original text, death signifies more than the lead couple’s transcendence of the flesh—it’s also a fascinating wish fulfillment. Continue reading