Late Buñuel films (Discreet Charm, Phantom of Liberty, That Obscure Object) have a momentum, which is every bit as forward moving as a Speed or a Matrix, if not more so. The scenes just fly, and yet, what is happening? If I told you there was a scene where a lady walks into a hotel, stands by the fire, makes some polite conversation with some monks from the local monastery, then checks into her room, you would probably not be on the edge of excitement.
But watch what I just described shot from the Buñuel cannon, and the high-grade choreography and emotional content of these interactions will command all of your attentions. Every word that is uttered, every step that is taken has a kind of edgy tension. This is helped, of course, by a liberal dose of the surreal.
A lady driving to Argento is halted by a tank crew looking for foxes. Surreal. But then some polite conversation ensues and before you know it, it all seems very normal. Taking the absurd and putting a normal twist on it. Now that’s fun. Some children are shown playing in a park. Of course, something bad is going to happen, right?
A young man leaves his aunt’s room to go get something to drink. He is met by another man who takes him by the arm and leads him to his own room. A woman then knocks on the door to ask for some matches. At this moment, another, different man learns yet another woman has four guests in her room somewhere else and becomes ecstatic over the prospects of adding them to his own growing party. A power struggle emerges as various groups of people try to ‘possess’ each other’s company as if it were a commodity. It’s just so painfully true. It’s like one of those great authorly insights that you grasp and then are so amazed because it’s so true, and was always right there. And the really amazing part is, the scene’s not even near done. Oh there’s more alright. You’ll see.