8 posts categorized "Surrealism"

January 26, 2022

FANTASTIC PLANET — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

ColeSmithey.comBeautiful French animated surreal dystopian sci-fi flick will mess you up.

René Laloux's 1973 classic is full of surprises. 

Simplistic animation soars to Salvador Dalí levels of bizarre imagination over a funky jazz score by Alan Goraguer.

Big alien people oppress small human people as if they were on par with gerbils.

ColeSmithey.com

Agitprop storytelling spells out dangers of "conformity and violence" with a biting satiric wit, writ large.

ColeSmithey.com

Trippy baby. Trippy.

Do your own thing.

Not Rated. 72 mins. 

5 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

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October 03, 2011

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI — CLASSIC FILM PICK

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

Cabinet-of-Dr.-Caligari Credited as introducing the "twist ending" to cinema, Robert Wiene's 1920 "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is a groundbreaking work of German Expressionism. The early horror film also introduces the frequently copied bookend structure so popular in modern cinema.

Wiene deploys a radical dreamscape of macabre lighting, Gothic make-up, and a boldly disjointed set design to form a twisting suspense story about an evil doctor who exploits a sleepwalker in order to perform serial acts of murder.

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“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” embodies an iconic brand of angular surrealism that defies gravity. The effect is unsettling. The film's ripples of influence can be found in avant-garde, film noir, horror, and thrillers ranging from crime to psychological suspense. Its angular stage sets and long shadows presage F. W. Murnau's aggressive designs for "Nosferatu"--made two years later in 1922.

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The script was written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer after World War I, a period of widespread violence throughout the country. Insanity is rampant. At an abstract level, the picture presages Hitler’s mad Machiavellian manipulation that turned Germany into a killing machine during World War II.

Caligari

A ghostly looking Francis (Friedrich Fehér) recounts to an equally pale friend his strange tale of woe involving his fiancée Jane (Lil Dagover). While visiting an annual fair in Holstenwall, Francis and his friend Alan visit a sideshow where Dr. Caligari exhibits Cesare (Conrad Veidt), a zombie-like "somnambulist" who has been asleep for 23 years. Someone has been stabbed to death the night before. Before Dr. Caligari's sideshow audience, Caesar emerges from an upright coffin to answer questions from the crowd. Alan worriedly asks how long he has left to live. Francis and Alan are caught in a love triangle with Jane. The vampire-like Caesar informs Alan he will only live "till dawn." Indeed, Alan's death comes later that night. Convinced that Caesar murdered his friend, Francis begins to follow the strange Dr. Caligari.

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The filmmakers use various colored filters to create the effect of a color movie. Tinted shades of sepia tone, blue, and purple add narrative depth to queasy episodes of altered mental states. An ingenious plot revelation involving a mental asylum puts the icing on the cake. With its unusual look and neatly folding method of storytelling “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” is an artistically uninhibited silent horror film that still sends chills.

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Not rated. 67 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

February 02, 2011

THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

 


ColeSmithey.comLuis Buñuel's most financially successful film is an absurdist satire that puts the strictures of upper class society under a pulverizing gaze to examine its many hypocrisies. The role of organized religion, the military, politicians, and the ruling classes are lambasted for their ambivalent attitudes, shallow values, and ritualized conventions of avoidance.

Discreet Charm

Where the characters of Buñuel's 1962 film "The Exterminating Angel" were unable to leave the room of their dinner party, the well-dressed dinner guests of "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" are unable to dine regardless of where they go.

Discreet-Charm 
A wealthy couple, Alice and Henri Sénéchal (Stephane Audran and Jean Pierre-Cassel), are surprised by the arrival of their four dinner guests on the wrong night. The six friends set off together in search of a civilized meal but are thwarted at every turn. A visit to a familiar restaurant turns into a wake for the former owner, whose corpse occupies an adjacent room. At another would-be feast, a curtain is pulled back to reveal an audience watching the hungry diners who sit at a table onstage for an unannounced theatrical presentation.

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Buñuel blends reveries with nightmares to expose chilling realities that simmer beneath the surface of appearances of "polite society." Time-flipping segues, flashbacks, and bizarre events break up the narrative with an off-kilter sense of gallows humor. A priest taking confession from a dying man learns that the man was responsible for killing the priest's parents many years ago. Terrorist attacks are commonplace. Buñuel doesn't just take the piss out of his muted representatives of societal repression; he makes them victims of their own devices.

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Buñuel signature surrealistic approach comes across in his asymmetrical juxtaposition of props, such as rubber chickens or a Napoleon-styled hat. Buñuel doesn't just ridicule, he pokes and prods at his dubious subjects with a gleeful delight until they squeal. Such priceless cynical joy you won't find anywhere else.

Rated PG. 102 mins. 

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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