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Yesterday I went to the premiere of a retrospective on the filmography of Luis Bunuel, presented at the Miami Beach Film Society. Many years ago-(as a teen)-I was highly impressed and shocked by his “Angel Exterminador”-(The Exterminating Angel), and I had also seen “Viridiana”, the first title in the trilogy of his /Alatriste/Pinal collaboration. I was really looking forward last night’s presentation, as it was his “Un chien andalou”, which I had never seen before-(I’m definitely NOT a film/DVD guy, and subsequently I’ve always tried to avoid renting all this “cult films”, which I believe will always belong to the big screen). Anyway…full of hopes I went, and then…I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Besides the fact that I had had an exhausting day at the hospital, I didn’t find all this non sense engaging enough. Whereas I silently laughed when I first saw Duchamp’s toilet, or got really cranky after 10 minutes of Cunningham’s company’s act, here I just got bored. By now I completely accept the pattern-(I call it my own “intolerance for fat women with dirty feet syndrome”, borrowing a fellow poster’s phrase he used to describe his perception at some attempts at inept contemporary dancing). Anyway…as I said, I left the place very bored. I only found interesting the slicing eyeball sequence…

Oh…they also presented “L’Age d’Or”…but by then I was partially out…

Looking forward to the restored copies of Viridiana and El Angel Exterminador though……


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Speaking of "The Exterminating Angel," there is a great moment in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" when the time traveling protagonist is introduced to Bunuel and suggests a film where a bunch of dinner guests find themselves unable to leave, and Bunuel keeps saying he doesn't get it. Pretty funny.

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Your underwhelmed reaction isn't surprising, cubanmiamiboy. I felt something similar, althought not as strongly. The shock of the new doesn't always last forever.

The big screen is always ideal, but it's not possible for many people, especially those not near urban centers, and even there the repertory theaters face challenges from DVD. I know from my own experience it's not necessary to inspire interest. When I was a kid, old movies were all over television. The networks used them in the afternoons and late night as cheap filler for off hours and they were hard to avoid. Now they're limited to cable and occasional evenings on public television and have to be sought out. Certainly it's nice to see them uncut, without commercials, and in restored prints, if you can afford cable, but without that early exposure I might never have seen any and I know I'm not alone in that.

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My case is slightly different. When I was growing up we were so behind in Cuba technologically that videos didn't exist-(it wasn't until 1980 when my grandmother started traveling here to see her other daughter that we had a VHS for the first time)-and TV wasn't too appealing to me...lost of old Soviet/Rumanians/Bulgarian and the like films, which we couldn't even understand. Now, on the other side, the movie cinemas were kept intact, and old the old films from the American Pre-Castro era were recycled over and over and over. Matinées on Sunday mornings were delightful for us kids...(Charlotte's Web and all the Disney candies were my favorites :thumbsup: ). Anyhow...that and the fact that movie theaters never got to be transfered over there to the multi-rooms complexes we had here, but still preserved in their 20's/30's old buildings-(still until today)-made me grow a love for the whole ritual, which I still enjoy...I go to the movie theater as I go to the Ballet...dressed up and everything, probably a little more casual. The Miami Beach Cinematheque is a wonderful place...they took over the old City Hall and revamped it as an old movie theater, and they also have exhibition halls and a mini-café inside. There's a current trend all over the County about it, and so far three places has been restored, where they present all the Nouveau European films, retrospectives, restorations and Cannes, Toronto, Sundance and many other festivals offers.




Tonight I might go to the Coral Gables Cinema to see the French film "Point Blank". That will relax me after my two hours swimming training.. :thumbsup:

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Last nights offer was Viridiana, a more comfortable territory for me-(had seen it years ago, and it still does its stuff today). This is the infamous Vatican/Francos administration-banned-(described as blasphemous)-film and Palm dOr winner that was not to be released in Spain until 1977, after Franco's death, when Buñuel was seventy-seven years old. This is good ol school Buñuel…irreverent, satirical and dry humored-(still easy on the eye, unlike his Perro Andaluz). The film has some memorable sequences, as the one with the beggars taking a shot around their patrons table resembling that of Da Vincys "The Last Supper" , or that of the uncle trying on his late wifes high heeled shoes and corset in front of a mirror. Another high point of Viridiana is the appearance of Silvia Pinal, the stunning Mexican blond beauty in the manner of Kim Novak whose form fitting sequences in his movies are not ontological.

I had a great night, although there were three people behind me who were obviously oblivious to the caption offering-(what did she say..?)-and thought the film to be super funny, according to the uncontrolled laughing from start to ending. Annoying.


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Tonight I had the pleasure to revisit El angel Exterminador-(Exterminating Angel)-a film I saw many, many years ago, and made a great impact on me. It was also my first film by LB. It has been said that the title of the movie refers to the exterminating angel who killed the first born child of Egypt, and so in order to make some sense of the movie, one could consider the fact that the same angel may be punishing the film characters. The exterminating angel does it by trapping them in a closed physical space-(a superb mansion)- that forces them to deal with reality. Therefore, they snap out of their trapped world of mannerism. The angel punishes two lovers for having sexual intercourse in a small room with angel pictures displayed on the wallpapers by forcing them to commit suicide. At the same time, he forces the guests outside of the room to go through barbaric like behavior to show them the harsh reality of their human nature. After they escape, the guests end up trapped once again in a church, which implies that the angel now wants them to break free of their religious habits now that he succeeded at breaking hem free of their high class manners. In both, the salon and church traps, the angel sends them sheep so they could eat and survive. Both locations are perfect for the angel's tasks. Luis Bunuel was probably attacking both the high class of society and religion. I remember my first viewing of, The Exterminating Angel as a very challenging one, being almost impossible at first to even try to understand its meaning. I read that Bunuel despised the film since he wanted to set it in France (hence the later The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie); he said there was no reason to the film, but sure there are lots of references, very intentional ones, to give it some meaning. He not only goes after bourgeoisie and church; there are references to Islam, Freemasons and white and black magic.

Back in the days I found it a bit hard to digest at first, but then something snapped. At the time I was going to a personal situation that was draining me both mentally and psychologically-(even to the point of physical exhaustation). Coming out of the movie theater I just saw it right there and then. My personal situation was entirely based in my own inability to at least TRY to get out of it. I had INVENTED the most powerful causes for which I had decided that there was no way out…and in reality, this wasnt the case. The solution-(just as with the majority of the problems in our lives)-was right in my hand. I just had to walk out of the matter and thats it. The final sequence of Silvia Penal fixing all the exhausted guests minds in order to make the exit from the mansion-(and out of the Angels spear)-is one of the most powerful ones Ive ever seen..and felt. In the process he makes us revisit his recurrent obsessions with beautiful women-(Pinal), religion and high society. Exterminating Angel is, in my own view, the DEFINITIVE study on how people go from considering a situation completely abnormal to accepting it as the only way possible and probably dying on the way, inside and outside.


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