Last February, BAMCinematek presented a
Luis Bunuel mini-series. This year (is it turning into an annual
event?) their Bunuel series includes a holdover from 2003 and
two other films from the final phase in the great Spanish director’s
career, who died in 1983 at age 83.
"Bunuel’s Back!" (March 4-7) includes his 1972 winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (pictured). Hailed as a masterpiece by critics and his most popular success, "Discreet Charm" is admittedly full of slight charms, but its surrealistic rug-pulling - dreams and reality intermingle incessantly but incoherently - is ultimately tiresome.
Bunuel’s previous film used the same surrealistic techniques more successfully. "The Milky Way" (1969) - shown at BAM in a newly restored print - is as baldly sacrilegious a film as Bunuel, an atheist, ever made; it’s tempting to view this jaundiced view of heretical church history as the flip side of Mel Gibson’s pious "The Passion of the Christ," which opens this week.
Rounding out this too-brief glimpse at Bunuel’s work is his 1964 adaptation of the novel "Diary of a Chambermaid," a remake of Jean Renoir’s much more genteel 1946 version. Bunuel cast French star Jeanne Moreau in the lead - the only time she and Bunuel worked together - using her subtle sensuality in a way even Francois Truffaut only hinted at in "Jules and Jim."
"Chambermaid" isn’t very fondly remembered, but it’s another memorable etching of perverse human behavior by an artist whose cackling glee at exposing our foibles is evident in every frame.
The "Bunuel’s Back!" film series is at the BAMCinematek (30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene) March 4-7. Daily showtimes are 2, 4:30, 6:50 and 9:10 pm. Tickets are $10, $6 seniors and students with a valid ID. For more information call (718) 636-4100 or visit the Web site at www.bam.org.