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The Phantom of Liberty, Luis Buñuel (1974)

Soldiers munching the heavenly host like crackers, drunken card-playing priests, roadside inns in the middle of nowhere where the power goes out and suddenly everything turns into an episode from deSade. (My favorite line: the guy in chaps being whipped by his girlfriend says in distress, as the room empties, “At least let the monks stay!”) Plus lots of naked women (some of whom turn into other naked women), incest, rape, murder, childish and senselessly violent policemen, blasphemies of all kinds, etc. etc.

Some terrific set pieces. The dinner party where all the guests are seated on toilets around the table and eat their dinners in private rooms is fun, but the story of the missing schoolgirl who keeps protesting to her worried parents and teachers that she is actually present, is downright poetic.

Buñuel’s so reassuring. Still thrilled by the same old depredations and obliquities, nearly a half-century after Un chien andalou. Like a grandpa giggling at a screening of Porky’s. I wish he’d lived long enough to see Haneke’s Funny Games, or Carax’s Pola X. Would he have cheered or squirmed to see how far it’s become necessary to go in order to go too far?

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