3.07.2016

Buñuel/bug



In my ongoing quest to see all 1,000 films on this list I sat down with Luis Buñuel’s The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955), which remains all but unavailable on video in North America but is streamable on YouTube.  It features one of Buñuel’s most blackly comic premises: a would-be serial killer’s victims keep dying before he has a chance to kill them.  One of the film’s more memorable sequences is a kind of failed ménage a trois between “Archie,” a pretty travel guide, and a mannequin that bears her resemblance, which Archie later incinerates in a fit of rage.  Buñuel uses repetition and irony here as well as any other comic artist, the distinction being that the subject of Buñuel’s comedy is sexual pathology.  Archibaldo de la Cruz feels like Peeping Tom reimagined as a farce.  But the most Buñuelian thing about it may be the isolation of objects that may either signify something or nothing, like a close-up of a katydid near the end of the film, which Archie absently pokes at with his cane but does not kill.  It's as enigmatic--and specific--as the close-up of the embroidery hoop at the end of That Obscure Object of Desire.  Are we meant to take this to mean that he’s been cured of his murderous pathology?  Sometimes a katydid is just a katydid.     

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