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The Exterminating Angel

A very simple setup, an upper-crust dinner party whereby the guests become trapped in the dining room via unspecified reasons, leads to one of Luis Buñuel’s most surreal and slicing films, a thorough condemnation of bourgeois values and ivory-tower moralizing. Over the course of several days these guests, comprised of all walks of cosmopolitan life, devolve into petty squabbling and outright violence in a mirror of a society without rules or guides. But at the same time, The Exterminating Angel—lensed by the legendary cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and starring the luminous Silvia Pinal, who rocketed to stardom following the startling premiere of Buñuel’s Viridiana—is morbidly hilarious, featuring committed performances and more than its share of startlingly original scenes. “Just as Buñuel attacks social convention through satire, so does he attack cinematic convention through surrealism. It’s that audacity of invention and imagination that makes Buñuel’s films as stylistically radical as they are socially radical, and as ineffable and miraculous as they are caustic.”—Michael Joshua Rowin, MUBI.

Appears in: Friday Film Club

Genres: Comedy, Drama