Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Directed by Luis Bunuel. Starring Fernando Rey, Stephane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Bulle Ogier, Paul Frankeur, and Delphine Seyrig.

Luis Bunuel is another great filmmaker who made so many great films (VIRIDIANA, BELLE DE JOUR, THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, L'AGE D'OR) that many of them won't make this list (though if I could include shorts, UN CHIEN ANDALOU would be near the top). In Bunuel's later years, he held onto his famous fetishes and obsessions- hypocrisy, perversity, feet- while displaying a more cutting wit. In DISCREET CHARM, we observe six idle bourgeois as they repeatedly sit down to dinner only to find themselves unable to eat. At one point, they visit a restaurant and order their food when they see a corpse lying on a table in the next room; in another scene, they sit down for a feast only to discover their food is made of plastic and they are sitting onstage in front of an audience. Bunuel's film skewers bourgeois manners and ceremony, revealing them as mere window-dressing to mask our more primal urges- he seems to ask why it's necessary to make such a fuss over eating, something we need to live? Throughout, Bunuel also adds surreal asides and circles in and out of dream sequences, making for a highly original and quite entertaining experience.

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