Saturday, May 9, 2009

Viridiana

Luis Bunuel, 1961, Spain, bw (7.9*)
For those who would like a more normal, non-surrealist intro to the surrealist friend of Dali, Spanish director Luis Bunuel (Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), this is a good early film with a nearly straightforward story. A nun named Virigiana, played by Silvia Pinal, gets word that her uncle, played by Bunuel favorite Fernando Rey, is ill and aging, which isn't entirely true. She doesn’t really want to leave the convent just before her consecration but the Mother Superior orders her to go.

There at her uncle’s estate, she realizes the wealth he has and that she can do some good with it after all. She visits the town and invites several of the local homeless beggars to come live at the estate as long as they respect everyone and don’t fight and follow simple rules. The ensuing events test her faith as well as faith in mankind. Rather than an apparently wandering film like Discreet Charm, this story has a cohesive progression to an end, which should delight those who haven’t found Bunuel understandable to this point. He admits in interviews that he rarely has a story in mind, and just largely improvises when the cameras roll. In this film, he apparently had more of a script and perhaps it shows as this is his most critically acclaimed film.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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