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Monday, January 5, 2015

January Film Club

Hey everybody, welcome to the new year!  2015 is here and we're going to kick off this brand new year of Film Club with one of my favorite surrealist films from the ever subversive Luis Bunuel.  We will be watching his 1962 film, The Exterminating Angel.

The Exterminating Angel was written and directed by Luis Bunuel.  Following the scandal surrounding his previous film, Viridiana, Bunuel returned to Mexico to shoot another film.  This film was originally titled The Outcasts of Providence Street but was later renamed The Exterminating Angel.  It is considered by Mexican film critics as the 16th best film of the Mexican cinmea and one of the best 1,000 films by the New York Times.  

During a formal dinner party at the lavish mansion of Senor Edmundo Nobile and his wife, Lucia, the servants unaccountably leave their posts until only the major-domo is left.  After dinner the guests adjourn to the music room, where on of the women, Blanca, plays a piano sonata.  Later, when they might normally be expected to return home, the guests unaccountably remove their jackets, loosen their gowns, and settle down for the night on couches, chairs, and the floor.  By morning it is apparent that, for some inexplicable reason, they are psychologically, but not physically, trapped in the music room.  Days pass, and their plight intensifies; they become quarrelsom, hostile, and hysterical- only Dr. Carlos Conde, applying logic and reason, manages to keep his cool and guide the guests through the ordeal the best he can.

The film currently holds a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert awarded the film 4/4 stars, later adding it to his list of Great Movies.  He says of the film: "Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel (1962) is a macabre comedy, a mordant view of human nature that suggests we harbor savage instincts and unspeakable secrets.  Take a group of prosperous dinner guests and pen them up long enough, he suggests, and they'll turn on one another like rats in an overpopulation study."  He goes on to say about the director: "Bunuel belongs to a group of great directors who obsessively reworked the themes that haunted them.  There is little stylistically to link Ozu, Hitchcock, Herzog, Bergman, Fassbinder or Bunuel, except for this common thread: Some deep wound or hunger was imprinted on them early in life, and they worked all of their careers to heal or cherish it."

The Exterminating Angel is one of Bunuel's most provocative and unforgettable works.  I hope you can all make it out to this strange and wonderful film!

Here's the trailer:

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