films seen
10/33
average score
1.10*
nationality
Spain - 83 years old
status
R.I.P. (1900 - 1983)
more info

Luis Buñuel made the transition from religion-driven poverty porn to more conceptual surrealist cinema, but in the end, it turns out I don't care for either. He's certainly not the worst of the classic directors, just not my cup of tea.

Movies


The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie
1972 / 102m - France
Comedy
1.5*/5.0*
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie poster

Not a big Bunuel fan to begin with, but the film starts off well enough. Sadly it's a little repetitive, not all that funny and some moments are too on the nose. Not as weird, unique or crazy as some would have you believe, but it's not as bad as some of his other films.

Tristana

1970 / 99m - Spain
Drama
1.5*/5.0*
Tristana poster

A more straightforward film from Buñuel. That's not a bad thing mind, I'm not that big a big fan of Buñuel's more surreal films. Somehow they come off a bit too preachy and on the nose, though there's quite a bit of that here too. But at least characters just come out and say what they think, rather than having to peer at thinly veiled symbolism for an entire film.

Read all

The story revolves around Tristana, a young girl who is taken in by an old (and rather shabby) aristocrat. She is thankful for his help, but doesn't really appreciate his romantic advances. Even though she complies, there's a part of her that wants a different life, which she hopes to find with a local painter.

The cinematography is pretty dim, characters are rather stoic and the film seems void of any emotion. Characters are very talkative though and mostly express what they're feeling, which isn't really something I appreciate. The second half's a little better and the short runtime makes it bearable, but otherwise not a very interesting film.

Simon of the Desert

Simón del Desierto
1965 / 43m - Mexico
Comedy, Drama
1.5*/5.0*
Simon of the Desert poster

A peculiar Buñuel project. Simon of the Desert was supposed to be a full-length feature, but it needed to be cut down to 45 minutes because the budget simply wasn't there. Even so, it feels like a 15-minute short stretched to trice its length. It also looks a lot older than its '65 production year suggests.

Read all

Simon is a very religious man who climbs a pillar to be able to live closer to God. There he spends his days being as devout as possible. The devil isn't really impressed by Simon's actions and with his many disguises he tries to get Simon down from his pillar. This proves a lot harder than expected though.

Simon of the Desert looks scruffy, like some low-budget late 30s/early 40s film. Performances are rather poor, the cinematography is drab and the music is simply horrible. But the mood is light and there are a few laughs that surprised me, as this is a side I hadn't seen from Buñuel before. Not a great film.

The Young and the Damned

Los Olvidados
1950 / 80m - Mexico
Drama, Crime
1.5*/5.0*
The Young and the Damned poster

Age of Gold

L'Age d'Or
1930 / 63m - France
Comedy
1.5*/5.0*
Age of Gold poster

Buñuel and Dalí doing a film together, it sounds a lot better than it actually is. There are some funny ideas here, but overall the comedy is pretty bland and even though the film only lasts 60 minutes, it starts to drag during the second part. Buñuel's technique is still quite amateurish and the surreal elements don't really have the intended impact. Not great.


Viridiana

1961 / 90m - Mexico
Comedy, Drama
1.0*/5.0*
Viridiana poster

Land Without Bread

Las Hurdes
1933 / 30m - Spain
Documentary
1.0*/5.0*
Land Without Bread poster

The shoddy black and white cinematography feels lacking, the narrative doesn't inspire any trust in the subject matter. Of course the approach by Buñuel, known as a surrealist, is vehemently defended by his fans, but I simply failed to see the point of this documentary. At least the footage might have some historic relevance, the rest feels nonsensical.


Belle de Jour

1967 / 100m - France
Drama
0.5*/5.0*
Belle de Jour poster

The Exterminating Angel

El Ángel Exterminador
1962 / 95m - Mexico
Drama, Fantasy
0.5*/5.0*
The Exterminating Angel poster

Nazarin

1959 / 94m - Mexico
Drama
0.5*/5.0*
Nazarin poster

Like many of his respected counterparts, Buñuel is someone who liked to include religion in his films. Sometimes in more abstract or philosophical ways, sometimes very directly, as is the case here. It's a topic I'm not particularly interested in, though there's more than just religion to bite into.

Read all

Nazarín is a priest who lives in a very poor community. He tries to live his best life, sticking to his beliefs as much as possible, while doing good for the people around him. Those people don't really respect his efforts though, and many of his good deeds seem to backfire on him. With every setback, Nazarín just seems more determined to continue his mission.

So religion, a mix of poverty and misery porn, and a bit of misanthropy. It's a tired cocktail of dramatic elements, not helped by poor performances and bland direction. It might be interesting if you care for Buñuel's worries, ponderings, and/or world view, for me it was just a drag to get through.