Close Up

1 - 27 February 2019: Close-Up on Luis Buñuel


From his beginnings as a godfather of filmic Surrealism to his remarkably fertile exile in Mexico to his late-career renaissance as a titan of international cinema, Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel’s richly varied body of work reveals a consummate film-poet whose films overflow with unforgettable, dreamlike images. Though he frequently courted controversy for his subversive teasing of religion and middle-class moral hypocrisy, at the heart of Buñuel’s cinema is a pure and unflagging sense of humanism.

Un Chien Andalou
Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí, 1928, 28 min

“The way I see it, the film is nothing more than a public call to murder.” – Luis Buñuel read more

L'Age d'Or
Luis Buñuel, 1930, 63 min
French with English subtitles

Slyly beginning as an innocuous documentary on scorpions, this surreal masterpiece evolves into a love story in which the lovers are routinely blocked from realizing their love by the complexes of society and their own psyches. L’Age d’Or is a decadent, jarring Freudian dreamscape that has maintained its horror, eroticism and taboo – provoking on planes both conscious and subconscious. read more

The Exterminating Angel
Luis Buñuel, 1962, 94 min
Spanish with English subtitles

Buñuel’s extraordinary apparition embraces the theatrical ritual of his favorite social stage, the dinner party, to famously imprison a group of well-heeled guests without explanation at a sumptuous meal in a luminous Mexico City mansion. Trapped within their own nonsensical social structure "out of politeness," the guests realize they cannot escape their own soiree as ridiculous party banter, veiled insults and invented scandals give way to outrageous carnal depravity and animal ugliness. read more

Diary of a Chambermaid
Luis Buñuel, 1965, 101 min
French with English subtitles

The chambermaid of the title is the enigmatic Parisian Célestine who is besieged as soon as she steps off of the train by the frustrated desires and eccentric obsessions of the Montreils, a rural bourgeois clan at war with each other, the neighbors, and “foreigners” at large. When one of them commits a sordid crime, the avenging Célestine takes an unpredictable, mystifying path. read more

Simon of the Desert
Luis Buñuel, 1965, 45 min
Spanish with English subtitles

Perched atop a pillar in the middle of the desert in eternal penance for six years, six months, and six days, Simon – inspired by 5th century Saint Simeon Stylites – seeks spiritual purification through spectacular means. Reluctantly doling out occasional miracles, prophesies, and words of muttered wisdom to his fickle followers, Simon’s encounters elicit a string of blasphemous comedy routines occasionally anticipating those of Monty Python. read more

Belle de Jour
Luis Buñuel, 1967, 101 min
French with English subtitles

Appearing to lead a respectable existence with a successful, handsome husband, Séverine behaves icily chaste with patient Pierre in the bedroom while secretly indulging in fetishistic daydreams. Caught between the gaze of saintly Pierre and that of lecherous men like his friend Husson, she begins to lead another life at a nearby brothel. read more

The Milky Way
Luis Buñuel, 1969, 98 min
French with English subtitles

On a pilgrimage of sorts, two tramps take a journey through time and space on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Often oblivious to the symbolism or significance of their bizarre encounters, these two everymen are unwitting travelers through Buñuel’s heretical history of Christianity where mystery, miracles, and visions proliferate. read more

Luis Buñuel, 1970, 95 min
Spanish with English subtitles

After the death of her mother, the beautiful and impressionable Tristana is taken under the wing of Don Lope. An aging Don Juan with an outdated, hypocritical code of honor, he defiles Tristana’s body and her spirit – alternately treating her as his child or his lover, a lady or a servant. read more

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie
Luis Buñuel, 1972, 102 min
French with English subtitles

Buñuel once again places a group of bourgeois friends in dinner party purgatory. Continually interrupted from eating by strange events, the diners are perennially unsatisfied, yet driven to play out their polite social rituals nevertheless. Meanwhile, the elegant costumes, good manners, and meaningless small talk hides drug trafficking, affairs, political intrigue and vengeful murder. read more

Phantom of Liberty
Luis Buñuel, 1974, 104 min
French with English subtitles

"I’m sick of symmetry," states Monsieur Foucauld as he repositions his preserved spider above the mantel. Never explicit or predictable in its sly comedy, Buñuel presents a deadpan inversion of normalcy that plays upon the tension between paradox, ambiguity and taboo: police searching for a missing girl that is not missing, modern guests seated at toilets around a table, a military roadblock due to a fox sighting. read more

That Obscure Object of Desire
Luis Buñuel, 1977, 102 min
French with English subtitles

Buñuel regular Fernando Rey plays Mathieu, an urbane widower, tortured by his lust for the elusive Conchita. With subversive flare, Buñuel uses two different actresses in the lead – Carole Bouquet, a sophisticated French beauty, and Angela Molina, a Spanish coquette. read more

Two or Three Things I Know About Her
Jean-Luc Godard, 1967, 87 min
French with English subtitles

“Her” is Paris in the throes of redevelopment. It’s also a Parisian housewife who moonlights – or, rather, daylights – as a prostitute in order to afford the luxuries of urban living. Less a narrative than a succession of loosely interconnected scenes laced with Godard’s whispered musings on everything from the origins of language to the war in Vietnam, 2 or 3 Things finds one of cinema’s greatest innovators at the height of his playfulness. read more