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Monday, November 29, 2010

VIRIDIANA (1961)

Luis Buñuel made many great films in Mexico, but he only rejoined the international crowd when this pic, made under Franco’s nose in Spain, won @ Cannes, showing his undiminished power to disrupt. ‘Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?’ Silvia Pinal stars as Viridiana, a troubled novice nun who leaves the convent to visit the sick uncle she barely knows. He’s drawn to the classic Hitchcockian blond under the wimple, but her close resemblance to his late wife leads to tragedy. Viridiana abandons convent life and now shares the estate with her uncle’s handsome bastard son. He works to bring the estate back to life while she plays Mother Teresa, giving care to the needy, beggars, gimps & dwarfs. Buñuel’s sharp eye is pitiless; he’s an equal opportunity iconoclast, but don’t confuse his conflicted attitudes with his direct gaze. Famously so when the undeserving poor pose at a purloined feast a la Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Just one in a grand series of audacious visual treats that keep pulling you up short all thru the film. Often, appallingly so. If Voltaire had been a 20th century filmmaker, he’d have been Buñuel.

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