8 posts categorized "Surrealism"

January 12, 2011

8 1/2 — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

COLE SMITHEY

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Fellini had mastered narrative drama and wanted to challenge himself as a filmmaker. But he went to his modernist destiny confused, kicking and dancing the whole way, just as his simplified alter-ego Marcelo Mastroianni does as Guido Anselmi. Guido is a hugely popular filmmaker with whom everyone wants to be associated.

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Producers, mistresses, crew members, actors, family members, and friends all want to possess Guido or at least to snatch a piece of his talent. The best way for them to do so is to be associated with the film he is currently making. Indeed, the movie is as much about them as it is about Fellini's own obsessions.

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The enigmatic director's thematic goal is to mirror on a grand scale every aspect of his own soul that he can touch or project. Guido engages in a journey of self that necessarily includes his splintered fantasy visions of female archetypes that he will use and discard as his whims dictate.

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Filmed almost entirely on artificial sets, "8 1/2" is a pure look inside the mind of a director's cinematic exploration during a midlife crisis. Its title expresses the film's position as an in-between movie made on the way to Fellini's ninth feature "Juliet of the Spirits." The original title was "La Bella Confusione" ("The Beautiful Confusion").

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Fellini strikes at a hotter brand of bewilderment with a title that led some would-be audiences to think it represented pornography. It is rather a dynamic celebration of Fellini's miraculous methods of creating cinematic magic from the fabric of his personal dreams, desires, experiences, and relationship to Italian culture. This is a movie you can return to again and again, and still discover new meanings and messages.

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Not Rated. 138 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

March 20, 2010

THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE — 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.com"That Obscure Object of Desire" was Luis Buñuel's swan song to a 50-year career as surrealism's preeminent filmmaker.

The narrative space expands on a corollary between romantic dysfunction and societal collapse as witnessed through a grotesque example of amour fou.

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Buñuel co-wrote "That Obscure Object of Desire" with longtime collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, and based his work on Pierre Loyuy’s 1898 novella "La Femme et le Pantin."

Obscure Desire

Buñuel's masterstroke lay in his casting of French beauty Carole Bouquet and Spanish actress Angela Molina in the same role: Conchita, the virginal romantic object of Mathieu (Fernando Rey), an older wealthy French businessman. Mathieu desires most the thing that he cannot have. He is a prisoner to his own fetishistic trap that finds prominent satisfaction in his own humiliation. 

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Terrorist attacks and public address announcements about violence from leftist and rightist extremists underlie Mathieu's self-defeating attempts to make love to Conchita, whose hot and cold personality drags out their romantic entanglement beyond the brink of frustration. Thematically, Mathieu represents far rightwing mentality set against the free-spirited leftist struggles of a female underclass that Mathieu abuses even as he attempts to win them over to his side.    

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Much has been made of Buñuel's decision to fire Maria Schneider before replacing her with Bouquet and Molina, but Buñuel and Carrière had originally discussed interchanging two actresses for the role when they co-wrote the script. Buñuel's used a third actress to voice Conchita's dialogue, adding a subconscious unity to an ostensibly bipolar character.

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"That Obscure Object of Desire" (1977) makes its playful attitude apparent during its opening scene. Mathieu douses a bandaged Conchita with a bucket of water on a train platform before sharing his tale of self-inflicted woe with a woman and her young daughter, and a curious Freudian psychologist (who happens to be a dwarf) on a Seville-to-Paris train. Mathieu explains his hostile actions by proclaiming the woman he dumped water upon to be "the worst of all women." By the time the train reaches Paris, Mathieu's brief audience comes to realize that he is the bottom rung of humanity.

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Told in flashbacks, the story of his love-at-first-sight affair with his former maid plays out as a comedy of confused social mores among people who should know better. Mathieu and Conchita each display equal amounts of sadomasochistic behavior.

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Neither is able to transfer their remote inner passions into carnal action. Aside from its psychopoliticosexual theme, the film is an endearing love letter to the cities of Seville and Paris; their sunny locales carry an amusing sense of longing and personal history even as danger lurks in every corner. Buñuel finesses the unrequited love between his characters with such a command of cinematic spontaneity that you could watch the film a hundred times and still come away with fresh realizations.

Hot, and cold. 

Not Rated. 102 mins.

Five Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

January 23, 2010

UN CHIEN ANDALOU — 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 kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

Un Chien AndalouBefore their volatile relationship split them apart, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali created one of Cinema's purest examples of surrealism in the history of Cinema.

"Un Chien Andalou" is a combination of dream and nightmare from an actively surreal (dreamlike) perspective, albeit with a determined editorial slant filled with eroticism, animal reality, and wild flights of fancy.

The short film started riots when it premiered in Paris in 1929.

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Luis Buñuel carried rocks in his pockets to throw at his attackers in the audience who could not contain their anger and outrage over what they witnessed on a silver screen for the first time.

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Famous for a scene of the slitting of a woman's eye with a straight-razor, the film remains in heavy rotation in America's college classes where it's shown in a variety of academic contexts.

"Un Chien Andalou's" clear attacks on Catholicism, and organized religion in toto, struck a lot of nerves. 

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Taken from a humorous perspective, there is much hilarity to enjoy.

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There is a circus sideshow quality in the way Buñuel and Dali gloat over their strange images.

For example, a swarm of ants erupt from a hole in the middle of a man's hand.

Special effects, check.

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With such irreverent abandon the maverick artists provoke their audience with a film that celebrates Cinema's adaptive ability to expose the sub-conscious mind while adding a precise theory of editorial storytelling.

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You are not dreaming; "Un Chien Andalou" is 17-minutes of sheer cinematic genius.

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 LUIS BUNUEL: FETISHIST

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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