The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (40th anniversary)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
(Luis Bunuel, 1972)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: A rollicking patchwork of surrealism, Bunuel's 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie' is still fresh 40 years on and now benefits from a wonderful remaster.
In 1962, Luis Bunuel created a surrealist masterpiece called 'The Exterminating Angel' which revolved around upper class dinner guests who find that they can't actually leave the party. 10 years later, Bunuel created a companion of sorts: 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie' again follows the upper class and their dinner table adventures, but this time six members of the bourgeoisie keep on getting interrupted and don't actually get to have their meal.
That's pretty much it plotwise, but Bunuel knows how to contort stiff character types into wild men and create dreams and absurdity out of very little. The result is as delicious as it is pretentious.
The characters are split between two sectors: businessmen with political connections flanked by their loose wives and then members of the military and the police. The latter are treated as ghosts and firm men; the former are revealed as fakes and white collar criminals. The best character in the film doesn't fall into either camp: a bishop who gets off on gardening for the rich.
Bunuel is playing with us. One notorious scene has the dinner guests sit down to a meal only for a red curtain behind them to open and reveal that they're on a stage. The chicken served is rubber, the whisky is cola and worse than all that, the guests don't know their lines. In the presence of an audience who see them as they are, the bourgeoisie crumble.
The 40th anniversary print has been remastered brilliantly, save for a few minor scenes. Try to catch it on the big screen for its June 29th cinematic re-release. If not, the Blu-ray hits shelves for the first time July 16th and features a critic's examination of the film as a bonus.
When the Christian Bale reboot of the 'Terminator' franchise misfired at the box office and with the critics, the future of the series was thrown in doubt. Until now. Original series lead star Arnold Schwarzenegger has confirmed the 5th film and his part of the Terminator itself.
Director Michael Bay, famed for his big budget action flicks such as 'The Rock' and the 'Transformers' franchise, will develop a screen adaptation of 'Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon', the bestselling espionage action game title.
'Skyfall' director Sam Mendes previously walked away from working on another James Bond film due to his busy schedule and the pressures of directing such a huge title again, but now it seems that he has returned to the fold.
The last time Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson appeared in a film together it was a massive studio production that went on to break box office records. Now the 'Avengers Assemble' stars are reteaming for an independent feature.
'TV Burp' star Harry Hill's film debut has started shooting with himself in the lead and Matt Lucas as his twin brother alongside Sheridan Smith, 'Inbetweeners' star Simon Bird and Oscar winners Jim Broadbent and veteran actress Julie Walters.
In somewhat unexpected casting news, TV star Kelsey Grammer (best known as classy radio psychologist Dr Frasier Crane from 'Frasier' and 'Cheers'), has been cast as the lead villain in 'Transformers 4'.