Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie [Subtitled]

One of Luis Buquel's masterpieces, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is in beautiful form in this Criterion Collection two-disc DVD edition. The movie has never looked better outside the theater than it does in the pristine 1.66:1 print transferred here; it's as though it were filmed yesterday rather than in 1972. The Dolby Digital Sound is equally excellent, giving bold power to Buquel's disturbing visions and scenarios. The subtitles appear in white text at the bottom of the movie's image, not in the black bar, and can be turned off. Bonus features are spread over an additional DVD. Disc one includes the movie and a 24-minute documentary titled "The Castaway on the Street of Providence," dating back to 1970. The documentary is more voyeuristic than enlightening, as too much time is spent on the personal life of Buquel and his efforts to make the perfect martini rather than his great career. The three-minute theatrical trailer is redundant, and it gives away far too many of the movie's wicked surprises. Disc two features a second, more interesting documentary, "Speaking of Buquel"; running 98 minutes, it encompasses reminiscences by cast and crew from many of Buquel's films, as well as clips of those films. Disc two also includes a Buquel filmography with country of origin and release date information as well. Both the movie on disc one and the documentary on disc two can be navigated by scene access menus that give instant access to the feature's 21 and 28 respective chapters via chapter titles. Given the great supplemental material, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie goes from being a great movie to an essential DVD title. ~ Tim DiGravina, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 101 mins
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie [Subtitled]

That pretty much summed up what features I got from the library's version. This must be the only movie critique that went into so much detail about the contents of the DVD features, but clearly something that is needed on more movies. A film is either enhanced or seems a let down on certain films when there obviously is a lot of background material to work with. "The Castaway" was not very informative as the critique states. I did not bother to watch "Speaking of Buquel" as this just seems to be too much at around 100 minutes. From “The Discreet Charm of Luis Buñuel” by Carlos Fuentes was part of the pamphlet that came with the discs also.
Every now and then, he gazes at the trees and murmurs: “I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid of dying alone in a hotel room, with my bags open and a shooting script on the night table. I must know whose fingers will close my eyes.”

Strangely, they are rated differently from the other version that gets a 5 rating at:
In typical Luis Buñuel fashion, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie surrealistically skewers the conventions of society. Buñuel applies his surrealist touch to a mundane event: a dinner party that may never come to pass. A group of well-to-do friends attempt to gather for a social evening, but are thwarted at every turn. The initial problem seems to be a simple scheduling mistake, but the obstacles become more and more bizarre. At one point, the guests are interrupted at the table by an army on maneuvers. Later they learn that they are merely characters in a stage play and so cannot have dinner together. These misadventures are combined with symbolic dreams of the various characters, some of which also involve interrupted dinners. Wicked social satire and one of Buñuel's funniest films. Winner of the Academy Award for "Best Foreign Film" in 1972. ~ John Voorhees, All Movie Guide
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

But some of the "dinner events" are actual dream sequences and thus the reviewer misses that point {I think}. For example one where all the guests die is clearly another case of reset button technique as the film would end if they all died.

Overall, another disappointing film, especially given that they used the reset button on a movie film. Supposedly it helps build character but on a limited length film then wasting such footage seems odd at best and wasteful at worst.

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