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Sunday, August 22, 2010

SUBIDA AL CIELO / ASCENT TO HEAVEN (aka MEXICAN BUS RIDE) (1952)


This is something of a rural test-run for Luis Buñuel’s even more delectable urban comedy ILLUSION TRAVELS BY STREETCAR which the great man made two years later. It’s Buñuel-lite, a modest picaresque about a ramshackle local bus that’s the only conveyance in & out of a small coastal town, and all the little stories involving it’s passengers & driver over a single journey to town. The film seems to have all the time in the world for gossip, pleasantries, siestas & a troubling/wish-fulfilling dream, yet its masterful pacing plays out in less than an hour & a half. Buñuel is typically sly & unsettling, addressing birth, death, marriage, a thwarted honeymoon, adultery, politics, modernization, family feuds and a possible justification for necrotic fingerprinting! You may giggle at the miniature buses & model mountains that pass for special effects in this low-budget programmer, but what an alarming & magical journey Buñuel charts. Watch for a group of American tourists who unexpectedly turn up in their fine air-conditioned bus. They don’t gawk at the locals or make fun of the little fiesta they’ve crashed. They even insist on speaking Spanish!

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