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Quick-Thoughts: Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Luis Buñuel Binge Part V of V

You’re gonna try and tell me that this whole entire movie isn’t just a metaphor for cock-blocking? Or, hunger-blocking? 

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is one of those movies that you couldn’t really compare to any other feature-length. It seems to be absurdly independent within the soul psyche of its creator (Luis Buñuel) with not much influence surrounding it. This entire project, as I will conjecture, emulates Buñuel’s mind completely wandering off into a splurge of convictions. The structure, milieu, and characterizations are erratically handled to provoke variations of confusion amongst its audience. 

It partially works as a freaky satire because it masks its zaniness as something casual. It partially works as an assorted political stance because it doesn’t seem to have a specific one and is more of a mosh-pit of relevant ideas. It partially works as just a motion picture because it was technically recorded and released in cinemas, yet that doesn’t divert from the fact that it seems too blurred to even be called a methodical movie. All of this sort of piles up into a final product that is so unapparent of its very own existence that it ironically functions victoriously to its benefit. 

What I’ve just said may not make a whole lot of sense because describing The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is virtually an impossible task, but trust me, if you do see it, which I highly recommend you do, you’ll understand what I’m manically blabbering about. As for what the movie itself was thematically representing or aiming to accomplish, however, who knows for certain? Yet, that is the beauty of Buñuel: interpretations galore, coming right up! 

Verdict: B+ 

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“The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” is now available to stream on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and The Criterion Channel. 

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Quick-Thoughts: Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967)

Luis Buñuel Binge Part IV of V

One thing is for certain in the midst of this, howbeit, Buñuel isn’t afraid to completely change up his style. Source: The Young and the Damned, Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, and Belle de Jour are practically NOTHING alike. Dope… 

A tad repetitive Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour is, unfortunately. As written: our main character Séverine experiences some new oddball thing with a horny client and then has surreal premonitions of her husband resenting her for being a cheater—this is the regularly recycled formula that’s wearisomely prominent in Belle de Jour. Coming from a director known for being tastefully unpredictable, Belle de Jour isn’t strenuous to leisurely map out miles before you even finish the movie. I did, nonetheless, dreadfully relish the idiosyncratic perspective that this movie so unapologetically offers—giving normies and naysayers an insight into a woman who may not exactly desire the strictly monogamous commitments that a model society expects from her.  

With that being said, cheating is still a no-no. If you want to cheat, break up with your spouse. Or, do a mutual cheat? I don’t know, commit something that won’t hurt the other person in the relationship; get creative!

Verdict: B-

Surrealism’s Inception (Ranked List) 

“Belle de Jour” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (1962)

Luis Buñuel Binge Part III of V

Awe, yes. Just my cup of tea. 

Imagine watching a clump of people experience a life-threatening tragedy under what you’d find to be the most hilarious of circumstances. Abhorrent, right? Thus, you have The Exterminating Angel—an account of a group of wealthy party guests who become illogically trapped in a room together. 

Luis Buñuel challenges what we know as calamity and what we perceive as vice from a bystander’s setting, exposing our comatose demon horns from inside, setting our inner unethical laughter free, and imploring the cinematic rules that never existed during the time of its release as we endure supernatural inability. This is movie surrealism during one of its earliest stages and arguably at its GREATEST PERIOD! 

You cannot die without at least watching this film once—that’s why I’m cautiously avoiding saying so much about The Exterminating Angel because it could possibly give away a great deal for first-time viewers. I beg of you. David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, Charlie Kaufman, and most recently Robert Eggers would be NOTHING without this victory lap of filmmaking! 

Wow, this movie has made me so happy. Cheers to cinema peaking! 

Verdict: A+ 

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“The Exterminating Angel” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961)

Luis Buñuel Binge Part II of V

They tell me that Viridiana takes place in Mexico, yet I could’ve sworn it really takes place in (sweet home) Alabama based on some of the “card-shuffling” folks in this motion picture. Don’t assume your Spanish language can fool me! 

Viridiana is oh such a sweet character. After experiencing such a horrid incident, her goal afterwards—most likely inspired by her aspirations to be a divine nun—remains to bring only positivity to the world. Instead of letting a scarring personal event take over the persona she once wanted to pursue, she slightly alters her mindset into something that ceases to destroy or demean her galvanizing ambitions. She’s a fighter! Too bad she has no idea what the wicked world has in store for good-doers like her…

As for the movie, the first half is MUCH better than the second half, but that isn’t to say that this automatically makes the second half dreadful; I just reckoned that the first half genuinely had a mysteriously enthralling presence that made the film seem more distinct and inviting. What we got in the second half, however, was adequately pleasant and the dialogue throughout was quite deft, as well. Howbeit, it is essentially just a surface-level, second-rate, and moderately scattered edition of Bong-Joon Ho’s Parasite—thanks for the influence of that wonderful film though, Buñuel! 

One last thing, forgot to mention that the “feast” scene was pretty neat. Random and a tad out place, but neat! 

Verdict: B

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“Viridiana” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Luis Buñuel’s The Young and the Damned (1950)

Luis Buñuel Binge Part I of V 

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) is one of my all-time favorite short films, so naturally, yeah, it was about damn time I watched one of Luis Buñuel’s feature-lengths. 

I think The Young and the Damned exemplifies Buñuel seamlessly meshing the quirky eccentricity of his earlier works such as Un Chien Andalou with a cohesive, reality-grounded narrative. It’s the kind of blended smoothie of cinematic facets that substantially fascinate me. With a coming-of-age aura set in grave poverty, The Young and the Damned is a tale that introspectively scrutinizes the link between benighted parenting and the vocation for violence that it brings upon or debatably passes on to future generations. 

It’s always charming too to see a film that was clearly made with stubby resources but still toils its way around to being more immersive and innovative than most movies out there. 

Buñel, you have my attention. 

Verdict: A-

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“The Young and the Damned” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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Quick-Thoughts: Michael Haneke’s Caché (2005)

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Caché (Hidden) is that kind of movie I couldn’t possibly imagine somebody turning off halfway through, either because they had to do something or they were simply bored. I felt as if it was an absolute NECESSITY to find out what was going on behind the scenes, and that’s just all the praise for how devastatingly hooking this political mystery is. 

To say that the climax or finale of this movie is phenomenal would be an understatement. With no spoilers, it reminded me of one of my favorite mystery dramas, Lee Chang Dong’s Burning, a movie released in 2018 that also had an ending that is more so meant to not give the audience “the big reveal” like most mysteries have but to create a resolution that ties the haunting themes of the movie in a triumphant bow rather than the actual plot. It’s a gimmick that’ll have spoiled audiences upset but people who truly appreciate the art of substance enlightened. 

Conclusively, Caché is a morally striking drama that will leave most of its genre in the dust. It’s a true movie that uses an ingenious premise to pave out the most subversive of answers. 

Verdict: A

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“Caché” is now available to stream on Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001)

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Michael Haneke’s understandably controversial feature-length The Piano Teacher is an artistic brush that tours a topic that expressive statements aren’t socially supposed to discuss. Yet, the favored practice to marginalize subjects like the ones brought up in The Piano Teacher are exactly why many critics, audiences, and just causal human beings tend to feel so irked. To ignore disturbing issues that are often provoked in the distressful regions of the human psyche is one of the most irresponsible ways of handling them. “Art” and even bigger things like “society” don’t get better because we pretend certain eldritch events don’t often happen; they get better when we can openly address and debate them. 

The Piano Teacher features some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever had the pleasure (well not exactly, haha) to observe and ponder over. Haneke just knows how to create tempting characters just by conducting the way they act rather than providing context to what their historical backgrounds could possibly occupy. It is the taboo desires and mannerisms that cause fictional yet applicable characters to stand out from the crowd. Specifically, our main character, Erika Kohut is a primary intrigue to the story at hand, being as she is a fairly enigmatic individual that deals with an uncanny yet very real obsession with psychosexual self-harm. The motion picture treats the neverending constant of sexual frustration as a mental barrier that, like a disease, can be passed on if not examined considerately. Never has the darkness of sexual tendencies ever been this shockingly captured as it has been in this staggering declaration by Michael Haneke. This is Fifty Shades of Grey but for the cultured. 

The Master of Blue Balls would’ve been a fitting title for this movie too, however. YEP, I cease to not make jokes during a review for a movie as f****d up as this! 

In all seriousness, nevertheless, this is a new cynical favorite of mine. 10/10; take my breath away, Michael Haneke; you’ve made a bold masterpiece. 

Verdict: A+ 

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“The Piano Teacher” is now available to stream on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent (1989)

Michael Haneke Binge Part I of III

Erasing the vision of human faces while observing the typical thrusts of daily activity is a pessimistic method to making our lives seen utterly mechanical while intentionally depicting the characters in this covert movie as if any one of us could be them. This is what casts the opening of The Seventh Continent as such a chaff introduction for a film that’s strictly about a supposedly everyday family. It’s a spell that strikes us into registering that the sort of grim incident that untangles in this motion picture can happen to anyone despite appearances. 

In truth, The Seventh Continent could’ve worked especially well (possibly even better?) as a short film; the decision to extend the project with an authentic time-ticking effect could be the only thing justifying this feature-length’s 2-hour long existence. Even so, there’s nothing I can do about that, and I am fine with accepting the elongated, realistic expedition that the movie took me on.

Is Michael Haneke married though? Or does he have kids? Marvelous director and whatnot, but I’d be mindful if he does… 

Verdict: B

Disturbance in Art (Ranked List) 

“The Seventh Continent” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

Jean-Pierre Melville Binge Part IV of IV 

Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle)’s filler and style prioritization could appear as a tick of an upset in consideration of Jean-Pierre Melville’s previous substance-riddled projects, but the entertaining classic crime traits of the film are what allow the slow-paced getaway/heist thriller to do the trick. It’s another movie that proves that The Coen Brothers wouldn’t be where they’re at now without the hands of Melville.

Verdict: B-

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“Le Cercle Rouge” is now available to stream on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and The Criterion Channel.

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Quick-Thoughts: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows (1969)

Jean-Pierre Melville Binge Part III of IV 

Call it 50 Shades of Blue because in spite of all the traumatizing war stuff, this is one gorgeous-looking, color-commanding motion picture. Cinematography perfection 101 here. 

Sometimes marathoning a visionary’s central filmography in one zip is keenly enriching. As of now, it has been so interesting to see Melville go from Le Doulos to Le Samouraï and now to Army of Shadows. With the previous film (Le Samouraï) and the current picture I’m reviewing right at this very moment, there has been such a palpable improvement in directing and craftsmanship from the predecessor. 

Army of Shadows is an engrossing war drama that has a fascinating partake in its narration, important themes of self-sacrifice that should honestly be explored more in mainstream war movies, and the clutching excess of chasing enemy infiltrations. To sum it up, this is a film that’s guaranteed to be ingrained into my head for a long time. More madly, though, on a technical level, there is nothing I could possibly whimper about when it comes to Army of Shadows, as every approach in the camerawork, production, framing, acting, editing, visuals, and score are unapologetically avant-garde. And might I add, Melville is a master act at zoom shots—I’m a sucker for them, admittedly. 

I do, alas, feel that Army of Shadows genuinely didn’t know what it wanted its plot to be centered around until maybe halfway through, marching back and forth and back and forth, attempting to be an anthology of intense World War II scenarios. Yet, the brimmed journey that we spot our lead character Philippe Gerbier go on is enough for the movie to provoke a fruitfully continuous alignment of investment. Furthermore, the fact that the themes of the film stayed consistent throughout did too aid my principal objection with Army of Darkness

As far as war movies go though, this one is definitely something I’d, like a cliché, call “unique.” Cinephiles, check it out when you get the opportunity; it’s a powerhouse in genre rebelling. 

Oh, and the firing squad sequence—insanity! 

Verdict: A-

French New Wave Ranked 

“Army of Shadows” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, and The Criterion Channel.