18. “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”, Luis Bunuel (1972)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie aka Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie

dir. Luis Bunuel scr. Luis Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere cin. Edmond Richard with Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig, Stephane Audran, Bulle Ogier, and Jean-Pierre Cassel

In 100 words: Bunuel reached the zenith of his surreal genius with this hilarious, bitingly satirical, and intelligent film about a group of rich snoots trying to have dinner. There’s really no plot to it, but how inventive is that loopy dream structure? On top of that, Bunuel uses these people’s inability to actually finish a meal to point out whatever Bunuel thinks is wrong about European society: their wealth, the Church, the military, the preying politicians, and the group’s own moral shortcomings. It’s full of rich semiotics, taking down society one by one until there’s nothing left. Funny, dense, and a dream.

Other Movies for Context: The closest Bunuel movie to this is The Exterminating Angel (1962), which is built on a group of wealthy people who are unable to leave a room for some reason and start to do dumb things in the process. But funny enough, the dream structure reminds me of Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) except without having to explain its genius concept.

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