Bunuel. To some it may feel like Bunuel should be closer to the top 10 but he’s got some really well reviewed films that don’t qualify for me (docs and experimental films) and several films that I just cannot find anywhere still. I’m always on the lookout, especially with all the ondemand and streaming options these days but as I said at the beginning I’m not going to just make assumptions about films I haven’t seen yet for my top 100 director list- which is why I plan to revisit it every 5 years or so. Bunuel had success making great films in Mexico, Spain, and an especially fertile artistic period in France from 1967-77. With great venom he attacked Christianity (particularly Catholicism), the rich and capitalism- wow did he ever! He was a pioneer in surrealism on the screen for sure. These are all rich attributes—but they are content attributes but not attributes unique necessarily to cinema.
Best film: Viridiana. This is Bunuel’s best film and it will blow your doors off. The last 15 minutes with the last supper and final scene are shattering. This is no longer the landslide I thought it was 5-10 years ago as the formal construction of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie makes a strong case against the pictorial beauty of Viridiana.
total archiveable films: 13
top 100 films: 1
top 500 films: 6 (Viridiana, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Los Olvidados, The Exterminating Angel, El, Belle De Jour)
top 100 films of the decade: 7 (L’Age d’Or, Viridiana, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Los Olvidados, The Exterminating Angel, El, Belle De Jour)
most overrated: He’s got a few but I’ll go with Simon of the Desert at #902 on TSPDT. I’ve only seen it once and I don’t get it. It shouldn’t be in the top 1000 in my opinion. It’s 45 minutes because Bunuel got bored or stopped working on it. It’s not terrible but I’m sort of with him. haha.
most underrated: Bunuel doesn’t really have one. I guess I’d say The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie because TSPDT has it as his 6thbest film (though still in the top 200 all-time (at #160—I have it as #123) and I have it 2nd.
gem I want to spotlight: For the most part just work your way down my top 10. Los Olvidados is Bunuel’s take on Italian neo-realism. It’s wonderful because it is close to the work of Rossellini and De Sica but it certainly has Bunuel’s trademark acidity. I love it. It’s nearly impossible to find. The Exterminating Angel is easier to find and it’s the movie referenced in woody’s Midnight in Paris about the rich people who just, for some unknown reason, all decide they cannot leave the room. It’s fascinating cinema and worthy of all the praise.
stylistic innovations/traits: His greatest stylistic trademark is surrealism—which again isn’t really exclusive to cinema. Really his films are black comedies- anarchy- and flamethrowers aimed at his (as he viewed them) nemeses: the upper class, Christianity/religion but there are rarely heroes at all in his films. They most often are brutal depictions of a godless evil world. Viridiana is beautiful, Bourgeoisie an incredibly impressive formal work, and Los Olvidados an important film when telling the story of neo-realism.
- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
- Los Olvidados
- The Exterminating Angel
- Belle De Jour
- L’Age D’or
- Obscure Object of Desire
- Phantom of Liberty
By year and grades
|1930- L’Age D’or
|1950- Los Olvidados
|1960- La Joven (The Young One)
|1962- The Exterminating Angel
|1964- Diary of a Chambermaid
|1965- Simon of the Desert
|1967- Belle De Jour
|1972- The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie
|1974- Phantom of Liberty
|1977- Obscure Object of Desire
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives