Elevator to the Gallows

Criterion Files

Luis Buñuel’s adaptation of Octave Mirbeau’s novel “Diary of a Chambermaid” (1964) was made at a decisive point in the master filmmaker’s long, dynamic, and illustrious career. The film marked Buñuel’s second foray into European filmmaking after an almost thirty-year hiatus, during which time he made a large number of films in Mexico, contributing greatly to what is now considered the nation’s midcentury cinematic Golden Age. The Spanish filmmaker first returned to Europe to make Viridiana (1961) in Spain (the only film Buñuel ever completed in his native country). Viridiana proved a sensation in every sense of the word: it made a huge splash for international critics and audiences starting with its enthusiastic reception at that year’s Cannes Film Festival and it was met with legendary controversy (no stranger to the filmmaker) in Franco’s tightly-regulated Spain. Viridiana revisits several of Buñuels’ thematic preoccupations from his Surrealist years in France and his pseudo-social-realist films in Mexico, specifically in terms of the infamous atheist’s routine subversion of religious iconography. The now-iconic scene where a group of vagrants sit around a grand dinner table, positioned in a way reminiscent of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495-98), proved to be a heretical image for one audience and a brilliant and beautiful inversion for another (By the way, why did nobody in the Catholic community say that critiquing Renaissance art isn’t heretical? Is Da Vinci Jesus?).

read more...

Culture Warrior

Amongst the many reactions to Steve Jobs’s death last week, I found one comparison that people drew to be quite compelling. In order to find a fitting historic analogy to illustrate the cultural significance of Jobs’s life, comparisons ran the gamut from Nikola Tesla to, erm, John Lennon (“think different,” I guess?). But several people, including, Roger Ebert, brought to light continuities with Thomas Edison. Edison, like Jobs, was an industrialist: part inventor, mostly capitalist. But specific to his own life, Edison spent most of his career securing patents and making improvements to existing technologies rather than building something from scratch. Edison’s reputation associates him with a great deal more invention than he was actually involved in. I’m not trying to be cynical about Jobs. Far from it. In fact, I’ve been more than a little annoyed with the backlash to consumer mourning about Jobs than any initial hyperbole associated with Jobs’s death in the first place. I don’t give a flying shit about executives in pretty much any industry, but saying “he’s just a CEO” does not negate the great intellectual worth and cultural interest of Jobs himself. Jobs, like Edison, developed a cult of personality that extended well beyond the person.

read more...
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Comic-Con 2014
Summer Box Office Prediction Challenge
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3