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|The discreet charm of Buñuel's dry martini - a recipe for excellence|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Wednesday, 27 June 2012 12:36|
"The ice cubes come first. They have to be first rate. Very cold, very hard."
That's the precision that goes into making a dry martini, according to Luis Buñuel. And he put a similar amount of attention into The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie). Not that you'd be able to tell. It's a mish-mash of madness and bitter cynicism; more a direct feed from the brain of one of Spain's most bonkers and masterful directors than a conventional film.
Ten years earlier, in 1962, Luis' The Exterminating Angel saw a group of civilised people unable to leave the dining room. Over several toturous days, their social graces evaporate, descending into chaos, death and barbecued sheep. They start off as pompous as the bourgeoisie showcased in 1972's similarly-themed satire, but end up no better than the chauffeur lampooned by the arrogant asses because he doesn't know how to drink a martini.
"It's not his fault," says one. "He's a commoner. He's uneducated." But at least he manages to have his drink. The rest of these lofty twits are tormented by the director, who teases them with the chance to sit down and share dinner, then whips out a string of surreal obstacles and laughs as he stops the meal from ever starting.
Murdering bishops, slutty heiresses and drug dealing politicans. Buñuel knows how to ridicule society's crumbling patriarchal system in a neatly structured story. Here, he does the same thing without worrying about things like plot or logic. Dreams exist within dreams, events turn into theatrical farce, and every now and then we see six people striding purposefully through the countryside. Where are they going to? Will they ever get there? Does Buñuel even care?
It's a breathtaking, nonsensical piece of cinema - one that may seem dated or overplayed in the post-David Lynch and Chris Morris era, but the silly laughs and frustrating narrative share the enjoyable anarchy of both.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is re-released in UK cinemas on Friday. It's a precisely blended cocktail, best served on the rocks - and enjoyed in cool sips.