The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour (1967) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour (1967)

A film about the most primitive of drives (we’re talking about sex)

Let’s not pretend that director Luis Buñuel meant to say anything elevated with this picture or do anything but drag us down into the muck that gets splattered across Catherine Deneuve’s face, as she rapturously subjects herself (if only in her fantasies, or maybe they’re ours) to one more humiliation as a daytime prostitute. No doubt a strange streak runs through Belle de Jour having to do with women; the movie might be considered misogynist if that weren’t too simple, or if it might not as easily be a manifesto for liberation, or if Buñuel didn’t think even less of men.

Working in France and finally unshackled from Spanish tyranny and Mexican censorship, by this autumn of his career Buñuel was closing in on his great theme with one fever-dream picture after another; Belle was the filmmaker’s first feature in fashion-magazine color, all the better to capture his star’s beauty and all the better for portraying its defilement. That theme has to do with how our collective effort to socialize, ideologize, and theologize the most primitive of drives just messes us up, and if you need to be told we’re talking about sex, then you’re Buñuel’s case in point, and if it all sounds rather deadly-serious, in fact Buñuel finds it a riot, powerless as he is to find it anything else.

Read them all: 
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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