Sunday, December 18, 2005

Day 79: The Phantom of Liberty

Luis Buñuel, I feel comfortable saying now, is one of my favorite filmmakers.  The Phantom of Liberty is the third Buñuel film I've seen and watching it, I felt as if it was taking place inside my brain, transforming half-formed ideas from my feeble mind into fully fledged cinematic reality.  The movie had me, quite literally, screaming with laughter as the multitude of random, bizarre plotlines played out before me and, in addition, touched my thinking bone as well.  It's a brilliant film.

A constant lesson in dramaticus interruptus, a phrase I've just coined, the movie follows a plotline or a character until things get interesting and then shifts to focus on a different character or plotline.  It plays out like a particularly warped (and deadpan) episode of Monty Python or Mr. Show, with inspired, hilarious vignettes or sketches of an altered reality.  The moments of transition from one vignette to the next are linked by an emotional stream-of-consciousness that never once lets the viewer down, unless, that is, the viewer happens to desire any degree of dramatic closure for these fundamentally banal storylines.  And the movie plays everything absolutely straight, positing as reality alternative worlds where, for instance, a couple denounces photographs of landmarks around the world as obscene while being turned on by them at the same time.

What's more, all of these satirical worlds have a thesis to them that makes sense, if only in the subconscious.  The Phantom of Liberty is the perfect antidote to Godard's strident, didactic voice.  Utilizing an eloquent, purposeful (and masterful) sense of absurdity, it says everything about the society watching the film and the society that made the film that Weekend said, only with more wit and guile than Godard used.  Perfection in every way.

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