Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
A surreal, virtually plotless series of dreams centered around six middle-class people and their consistently interrupted attempts to have a meal together.
What can I say; I think I’ve found a new favourite director after a single film.
Buñuel has the same high regard for both his characters and audience alike. Like a cat with a mouse, he toys with them; tosses them up in the air, bats them about a while, then sits back and watches them wobble and stumble about; all the time his tail gingerly flicking. Just when you think you have your bearings; and escape into a lush field of meaning is within grasp; he pounces again.
I’ve read that Buñuel was an accomplished hypnotist in his youth, and that he believed that the movies were a form of hypnotism. I believe it; I’m still in a trance.
When I first heard the title, I thought, "Finally! Someone's going to tell the truth about the bourgeoisie!" What a disappointment. It would be hard to imagine a less fair or, or accurate portrait.
Hard to quantify the cumulative satirical force this movie brings to bear, as it maintains the same level of genial drollery from start to finish. I always start out mildly amused, wind up gobsmacked...but it seems entirely possible that shuffling the scenes at random would have much the same effect. It's just a single pointed joke that gets funnier and funnier, abetted by a sextet of actors who refrain from any winking or nudging—Bulle Ogier in particular achieves maximum vacuity without calling attention to herself…
Another Buñuel and again I must rhyme;
Appropriate since it's much weirder this time.
Though unlike before where things start with the feast
In ...Charm it seems eating's like sex to a priest:
Forbidden, taboo, and declined against will
Though suffering fools keep attempting their fill.
A sextet of dilettantes (much like before)
Discuss what is proper, indulgent, and more.
But there where 'society' deemed what is right,
Cocaine/infidelity/murder's our plight.
A strange set of morals; I guess that's the key
To poke fun at people more, well, discreetly.
Their wealth and their social esteem's much less clear
And so is their odd way of showing good cheer.
Confounded by knocking at every turn,
That damned door's bad luck, yet…
Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie portrays the impossibility that a group of high society faces in achieving a dinner. It works as a fantastic and virulent satire on bourgeois, resulting in one of the best and most effective comedies of all time, led by a very dark humour that may not please everyone and filled with Buñuel's typical surrealism. It's amazing how the film manages to balance a satiric realism - by portraying bourgeoisie's habits, manners and behaviors - with a very clear surrealism which is mainly used to create some very effective metaphors over that social class.
Many people try to decrypt Buñuel's films, but they will never get to a general conclusion because his films…
Holy bejeezus, what an odd film. I mean truly odd. Not in the Lynch way, though, but in some completely new way. Sometimes it plays out like a Monty Python skit. Sometimes it feels like French New Wave. Sometimes it feels like a laugh track is missing. Sometimes it comes this close to slapstick but without the pay-off. It is definitely satire, though, that much I can say with confidence. The film pokes fun at so many things it could be (and probably has been) the subject of many a PhD dissertation.
I honestly can't write a review of it, at least not without spending way too much time I don't have right now reading about it.
All I can say is it is truly odd, and compelling and engaging and I loved it. I really loved it.
This review was also posted on my blog here.
Luis Buñuel was one of cinema’s vicious attackers. He was ruthless, and scratched and screamed at class, religion, ideology and life in general. He despised the rules by which society lived. And he always carried with him everywhere a twisted but brilliant sense of humour. If Buñuel was not humorous, his movies would be painful, almost insufferable to watch. But no matter how dark and unforgiving he could be with his movies, he was always humorous. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is one of cinema’s great black comedies.
In a list I wrote five months ago, I named Discreet Charm the best film of the seventies. Now, looking back at…
buñuel is a genius of surrealism
While it wasn’t exactly what I expected, I was fascinated by The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. It’s a funny and odd look at the bourgeoisie and has some wonderful dream-like sections that creep up on you. It’s interesting because other filmmakers have taken the ideas and built upon them in ways that are more effective, but wouldn’t have been possible without Bruñuel. With an elaborate structure of nested dreams and digressions, it’s a film that sits inside your mind and keeps coming back as you make connections between things.
Another one of Luis Buñuel's unabashed assaults on the bourgeoisie by ridiculing them to no end on the themes of sexual repression, religious hypocrisy and oedipal complexes. The dream-within-dream premise is so original and so bizarre that the film was destined to be nothing short of a surrealist comedy classic.
I seem to enjoy the dinner party-centric films of Luis Bunuel the most, although I still prefer The Exterminating Angel over The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie due to the fact that I found the former to be deliriously surreal, much more than the latter.
Also, Edmond Richard's cinematography fails to impress, outside of the dream sequences with their brilliantly crafted tone and atmosphere. Unfortunately, everything outside of these brief, yet exemplary, instances I found to be drab and lifeless (especially in the camera movement department). Worse still, is the fact that in the middle of all this listlessness is the atrocious use of a series of split-second freeze frame cuts. I've never seen that done before and I wish…
Seht sie euch an, die bösen Kapitalisten. Sie schmuggeln Kokain, missachten die Gesetzte, sind grausam, dekadent und egozentrisch. Dann kommt Bunuel und bestraft sie - oder eben auch nicht, im Film war es dann doch immer nur ein Traum. Das Kino soll hier keine Katharsis bieten, sondern frustrieren, soll uns immer wieder klar machen: Im echten Leben kommen sie auch davon. Schafft euch keinen Sehnsuchtsort im Lichtspielhaus, zieht auf die Straßen.
Everyone assumes they're not part of the bourgeoisie when they watch this film, which is what makes so many of these pretentious reviews on Letterboxd hilarious.
REPORTER: Who are your favorite characters in the movie?
BUÑUEL: The cockroaches.
— from an interview in Newsweek
To which I'd add, they bear a suspicious resemblance to many critics.
A delightful comedy that only occasionally loses its way; the recurring elements get less and less subtle, though, with each go round.
Okay guys, it's not *that* funny.
Maybe I'm just not erudite enough to appreciate Bunuel, but I was alternating between casual amusement and zoning out during the afternoon screening at BAM. At least it had the charm of decrepit 35mm.
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
- The Racket
- 7th Heaven
- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
- Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!