To get us in the mood for ‘The Secret Life’ exhibition (7th – 11th November) the Foyer will be a film space this week and will play the often dreamlike/surreal films of Luis Buñuel. The films will be on repeat, but we will endeavour to start each one afresh from 1pm each day for anyone who wishes to watch them in their entirety. I hope these brilliant, often quite shocking, films will be a good introduction to this filmmaker for those who are not aware of his work, and for the continued enjoyment of those who are already fans.
Elisa Artesero (curator)
Monday (31st Oct)
‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’
“In Luis Buñuel’s deliciously satiric masterpiece, six pillars of society repeatedly try to have dinner together, their plans interrupted by events both real (scheduling mix-ups, a restaurateur’s death) and increasingly surreal (exposed on a theatre stage, assassinated by Paramilitaries).”
Tuesday (1st Nov)
‘That Obscure Object of Desire’
“Recounted in flashback to a group of railway travellers, the story wryly details the romantic perils of Mathieu, a wealthy, middle-aged French sophisticate who falls desperately in love with his 19-year-old former chambermaid Conchita. Thus begins a surreal game of sexual cat-and-mouse, with Mathieu obsessively attempting to win the girl’s affections as she manipulates his carnal desires, each vying to gain absolute control of the other.”
Wednesday (2nd Nov)
‘The Diary of a Chambermaid’
“The film charts the ambitions of Célestine, a woman who comes to work in the Normandy estate occupied by Monsieur Rabour, his daughter, and the daughter’s husband, the right wing Monsieur Montiel. Celestine quickly learns that M.Rabour is a more or less harmless boot fetishist, his daughter a frigid woman more concerned with the family furnishings than in returning the affections of her husband, who, in turn, can’t keep his hands off the servants. Célestine picks her way through this minefield carefully, spurning the advances of all of the men until it’s convenient for her.
“Charting the rise of 30s fascism, Buñuel’s film also intelligently considers political, social and sexual positions in relation to the perversity of human desires.”
Thursday (3rd Nov)
“Set in Toledo in the early 1930s, Don Lope, an aging figure of respectability who becomes the guardian of Tristana, a young woman with whom he is soon completely smitten. Finally accepting Don Lope’s proposal of marriage after having her tumorous leg amputated, Tristana chooses a passionless union rather than be subject to the harsh realities of a society that refuses to change to the needs of women.
“Essentially a contest of wills between the two lead characters, ‘Tristana’ is a compelling black comedy that offers a characteristically audacious look at sexual obsession and bourgeois sensibilities.”
Friday (4th Nov)
‘The Phantom of Liberty’
Episodic in structure, the film is a series of anarchic and frequently surreal series of events through which the director ravages a complacent European culture and the various sexual hang-ups and historical and cultural disconnects of its inhabitants. A man sells postcards of French tourist attractions, calling the ‘pornographic’. A sniper in Montparnasse is hailed as a hero for killing passer-by. A missing child helps the police fill out the report on her. A group of monks play poker, using religious medallions as chips, and in the most infamous sequence, a formally dressed social group gathers at toilets around a table, occasionally excusing themselves to go into little stalls in a private room to eat.
“Best approached as a literal comedy of manners – the film is perversely funny and punctuated with a series of quite brilliant sight gags – ‘The Phantom of Liberty’ argues against the acceptance of strict moral codes, suggesting that the only way to live freely is to embrace the coincidences of the world.”