Posts Tagged ‘Luis Buñuel’

Tonight at the Cinematheque: Buñuel and Almodóvar

September 25, 2009

The Cinematheque is rolling out an intriguing double feature tonight, especially if you happen to speak Spanish: Luis Buñuel’s The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955) at 7:30PM and Pedro Almodóvar’s Live Flesh (1997) at 9:10PM; the former sounds as though it’s exactly what you’d expect of a Buñuel film from the 1950s (meaning that it’s unsettling, perverse, ultra-black, discreetly freaky and a lot of fun), while the latter is described on the Cinematheque’s website as “a complex tapestry of destiny and guilt” and “[a] stylish, sexy film noir.” I’ve yet to see anything by Almodóvar, though occasional CineMadison contributor Nick Nugent tells me that Live Flesh is definitely worth seeing.

If you show up at 6:00PM there’s going to be a lecture given by visiting University of Colorado-Boulder film professor Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz, presumably on the stylistic parallels between Buñuel and Almodóvar.

It’s because of events such as these that I argue, with no irony whatsoever, that Madison has an amazing cinema scene during the school year.

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Something else hath arriveth!

August 26, 2009

The wait, once again, is over: the UW Cinematheque has announced its schedule for the Fall 2009 season. I honestly don’t where to begin in breaking down the various programs, but as a visit to the Cinematheque’s website quickly reveals, the schedule is absolutely loaded. We’ll be getting retrospectives devoted to the directors Vincente Minelli (nine of his most well-known films), Alain Resnais (including his collaborations with Chris Marker AND what I believe is the newly restored print of L’année dernière à Marienbad [!]) and Grigori Alexandrov (a major “whoa” for those of us who are severely interested in Soviet cinema); a thematic series about border politics (including Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three and Chantal Akerman’s De l’autre côté [!]); Luis Buñuel’s The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz on my birthday; and these are just the films which immediately jump out at me. Stay tuned for more analysis of the schedule when I have time to digest it and research the films themselves. But let there be no doubt: We lucked out in a big way. This schedule looks outstanding.

‘Un chien andalou’ tonight at Mickey’s Tavern

August 14, 2009

A quick word of explanation regarding my absence yesterday (if anyone actually noticed, though I tend to doubt): Moving out of your apartment is always an overcomplicated, arduous experience. No matter how small an amount of stuff you may think you own, you always seem to own much, much more than that.  Oh, and it’s aggravatingly expensive. Anyway, I’ll be living the nomadic life for the next 24 hours, so expect at least a few posts, complaints, fatigue-induced ramblings, etc.

Just now I picked up a copy of this week’s issue of The Onion, only to discover a genuinely pleasant surprise: Un chien andalou (1929; 16 minutes), the über-(in)famous collaboration between Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali, is screening tonight at Mickey’s Tavern on Williamson St.; tickets are going for the semi-reasonable price of $0.00. Un chien andalou, as you’re probably aware, is a silent film, and yet its soundtrack is, without question, one of its most intriguing elements: sometimes it’s a randomized montage of fragments of masterworks by the giants of classical music, sometimes it’s an assemblage of excerpts from Liebestod, the concert version of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, fused with shards of “Ole guapa”, the Argentinean tango. It’s anyone’s guess what form the soundtrack will actually take when it’s performed live by local multi-instrumentalist Biff Blumfumgagnge. I mean, really, a free screening of Un chien andalou with live musical accompaniment? Such opportunities scarcely present themselves.

It’s often difficult to know where to place Un chien andalou in relation to Buñuel’s later work, which happens to be some of my favorite by any director ever. Buñuel’s French films are every bit as formally experimental as the exploded tapestry of obvious and not-so-obvious symbolism that is Un chien andalou. Perhaps it’s best to approach Un chien andalou as a cathartic first attempt at launching a rather direct offensive against bourgeois culture, drawing on the resources of psychoanalytically-informed semiology and the not yet solidified formal and moral conventions of cinema to announce the artist’s presence to a present and future enemy. Buñuel would go on to concern himself more with critiquing the Catholic church in films such as Viridiana (1961), Simon of the Desert (1965) and The Milky Way (1969), but his most unsettling and aesthetically radical work took the global bourgeoisie as its primary target. The seeds of this motivational contempt can be located in Un chien andalou and then later in L’Âge d’or, the first movement in Buñuel’s career-long shock-and-awe campaign.