This Appalling Life: a Review of Luis Buñuel’s Tristana

“It is a poetic principle that the freedom of the individual must fight against the restrictions of reality… I am still, thank God, an atheist.”
– Luis Buñuel
Luis Buñuel was hugely interested in depicting the complexities of human relationships and his 1970 film Tristana is the most explicit example of that.

The movie is the story of Don Lope (Fernando Rey) a middle-aged atheist/Marxist who becomes the orphan Tristana’s (Catherine Deneuve) guardian after the death of her mother. While determined to only treat her as his daughter he becomes tempted and forces her into a sexual relationship. He rationalizes this and argues that she’d do worse than that being left on the street.

The girl is disgusted by his sexual advances and is holding a grudge against the old man over it. She secretly goes out of Don Lope’s house and meets a handsome young painter (Franco Nero) with whom he runs away. However, she falls ill and develops a tumor in her leg, under this impression that she doesn’t have much time to live she goes back to Done Lope’s household. Don Lope calls a doctor who suggests that her life can be saved by the amputation of her leg. Thus she survives and stays with the man whom she wants to avenge for taking her virginity as a young girl. Don Lope’s much older and weaker now, reduced to playing cards with priests just to have some company even though he is an atheist.

This movie never becomes a melodrama about a poor young girl taken advantage of by a father figure and disabled by the hands of fate, though it could easily be. The whole situation is appalling and that is exactly what Buñuel wanted it to be – exploring the complexities of human nature and the sadomasochism of human beings.
There are some recurring dream scenes in the movie. One is Tristina’s dream about the severed head of Don Lope’s on a church ball. According to some, that was one of Buñuel’s own recurring dreams: Buñuel was a lifelong atheist just like Don Lope.

To make the situation more disgusting than it already is Buñuel gets the deaf-mute boy of Don Lope’s servant involved in the story as well. He desires Tristana, but the girl who is bitter and cold after the amputation of her leg rejects him but mercilessly tortures him at the same time (revealing her naked body to him from the balcony).

Not many directors can take us to their own private world of nightmares and dreams and show us the ugly side of human nature and still be able to make an excellent movie. That is why Luis Buñuel is still considered to be one of the best directors of all time.

 

 

Huge Turn up for the Repeal the 8th Rally in Cork

Cork residents gathered outside the City’s Grand Parade Library to demand the legalization of abortion this afternoon.

Cork Library Grand Parade Repeal the 8th
Repeal the 8th Rally in Cork City

The event which lasted for two hours included a march from Grand Parade to Parnell Place, Patrick’s Street and back. Speakers from various organizations also spoke to protesters.

Cork Abortion Rights Rally
Cork People Mach for Abortion Rights

Union of Students in Ireland President, Annie Hoey, was the first talker of the event. Hoey compared today’s protest to marriage referendum protests in Cork and said:” We do not need to call for a referendum anymore, we are having a referendum.”

Annie Hoey Cork Abortion Rally Mick Barry
Annie Hoey President of Student Union in Cork Speaks to the Crowd

Hoey encouraged everyone to get registered to vote in the long-awaited 8th Amendment referendum.

Abortion Rally Students Cork UCC
Students Showed up in Large Numbers

Liz Madden of Cork Feminista was the second speaker of the protest. “ Statistic from the U.K. Government shows that 3000 Irish women have traveled to the UK to access abortion,” said Madden to the crowd. Madden counted poverty, being underage, being in unhealthy relationships, dealing with mental issues as some of the reasons for why women are willing to travel to the United Kingdom to access abortion. “There are many reasons why women want to have an abortion, and it’s not even our place to ask,” added Madden.

Liz Madden Cork Feminista Abortion Rights Rally
Liz Madden of Cork Feminista Speaks to the Crowd

Actress, comedian, and writer Tara Flynn also spoke to the crowd. Flynn said that since her experience with abortion (having to travel to Netherlands to access abortion) she has become involved in this campaign.

 Tara Flynn Cork Abortion Rights Rally
Actress Tara Flynn Speaks to the Pro-Choice Crowd

“Anti-choice rhetoric has had the floor all to itself. That’s why we need to let people know what exactly pro-choice means. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion. It is pro-facts, pro-reality, and pro-kindness. It is pro-pregnant people from every class and background,” added the Irish comedian.

Pro-life vs. Pro-choice Cork Face off
A Pro-Life Activists Crashes the Pro-Choice Rally

After the rally, more people spoke to the crowd including a South African asylum seeker who had traveled to Ireland while pregnant and was shocked to find out that abortion was illegal in the country. “ It was a huge culture shock for me because where I come from in South Africa, abortion is legal. It has been since 1994.”

South African immigrant pro choice cork
South African Immigrant and Pro-choice Activist Speaks to the Crowd

Eli Doliver from University College Cork’s feminist society was the last speaker of the gathering. “ The government fails the women who leave the country to seek medical help. Last year alone more than 3000 women went to England and Wales to access abortion. Doliver called the fact that Irish women have to travel to England to seek abortion “an international disgrace” for the country.

Eli Doliver Abortion Rights Rally Cork Library Grand Parade UCC Feminists
Eli Doliver of UCC Feminist Society Speaks to the Crowd

Pro-life activists also stood behind with their banners and displayed their objection throughout the event.

Pro life Christianity Virgin Mary
A Pro-Life Woman Holding a Picture of Virgin Mary

One Pro-life activist crashed the pro-choice rally and was trying to convince the protester that they are wrong. Abortion rights in Ireland were specially brought into the spotlight in 2015 and after the death of Savita Halappanavar. Halappanavar was a young dentist who died due to complications of a septic miscarriage after being denied an abortion.

Pro life Anti Abortion Activists Cork Ireland
Pro-Life Activists Stood behind the Whole time

 

Fetishes we can’t Resist: a Look at Luis Buñuel’s Most Erotic Film “Belle De Jour”

Long before Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut, there was Luis Buñuel’s “Belle De Jour”: the story of a refined young wife of a reputable surgeon whom out of boredom secretly works at a brothel once or twice a week.
Some critics, including the late great Roger Ebert, believe this film to be the best erotic movie of all times. Buñuel never saw eroticism as something that only exists in nudity and the act of sexual intercourse but rather delved into human imaginations and strange fetishes and shamelessly depicted them in his movies. The audience follows the story of “Belle de Jour” through the eyes of Severine (played by Catherine Deneuve). For Severine sex is a dull act unless she is subjected to a vast amount of attention over it – even violence.

She finds her marriage with a seemingly perfect young surgeon Pierre (played by Jean Sorel) whose response to her refusal of sex is a single good night, to be terribly tedious. Pierre, on the other hand, sees her frequent avoidance of intercourse as a sign of virtue and adores her for that. They have a family friend Henri (played by Michel Piccoli) who is also in love with her seemingly moral character and proper mannerism – annoyed by it Severine always dismisses his compliments and resents him.
In Severine’s fantasies, Pierre demands sex or orders others to rape her, and she loves him for it. Her main fetish is to be dominated and humiliated by her lovers. She dreams about being tied to a tree while Pierre and Henri throw mud at her. She also has other small turn-ons and fetishes to which Buñuel hints throughout the movie – the sound of carriage bells and cats’ meows.

Severine’s fantasies find a way of realization when Henri accidentally tells her about a high-class brothel in which housewives work part time to earn an extra income.
Memorized the address of the brothel mentioned by Henri in their conversation Severine walks in there a few days later and is admitted in by Madame Anais (Genevieve Page)- the owner of the brothel. She gets scared at first and runs away, but the curiosity and temptation bring her back. As she tries to avoid sleeping with a fat middle aged man, Madame Anais pushes her and orders her to do so, surprisingly she promptly obeys her, something that compels her to conclude:” I see you need a firm hand.”
It can be very shocking for today’s audience to find out that there are no explicit sex scenes in one of the most erotic movies ever made. Buñuel’s interest was to show us the weirdest human fetishes and sexual “ fantasies” thus the camera always shies away when it comes to the real act of sexual intercourse. Buñuel masterfully toys with our minds and leaves us intrigued in the scene where an Asian client of the brothel who cannot speak French properly keeps showing the girls an object that looks like a music box. We never find out about the content of the box the only thing we get to see is a bloody bed sheet and Severine’s playful smile – insinuating the client’s fetish with the mysterious box.
One day, two gangsters come to Madame Anais’s brothel. One of them is Marcel (played by Pierre Clementi). He is very young, wears a leather cape, carries a sword -stick and has several unsightly steel teeth. Severine is especially impressed by his bad manners, his taunts, and his gangster persona. Marcel falls in love with her, not knowing that he’s a puppet in her hands, a toy with which she satisfies her sexual fantasies and fetishes – the best one.

Luis Buñuel who is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors of all time was a surrealist who collaborated with Salvador Dali as a young man in “ Un Chien Andalou.” He was very amused by the vast and diverse world of human fantasies and intended to depict that in his movies. He believed that most of us are hard-wired into sexual patterns from an early age and there is no escape from that – Severine also says that it is out of her hands and she’s lost.
Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” and Luis Buñuel’s “Belle De Jour” are both about women whose marriages do not satisfy their uncontrollable hard-wired sexual patterns, and their husbands, suffering from the same fate remain clueless. It is all human nature.

 

 

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Shames Cork People for not supporting his Street Names Change Campaign

Banners printed and advertised around the city by Diarmaid Ó Cadhla and his followers shames Cork people for not supporting the campaign for changing British street names in Cork.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla , Cork, Shaming Cork , Shame on Cork
New Banners around Cork Shaming People for not supporting Ó Cadhla ‘s Anti-British Agenda

The campaign was first started by Ó Cadhla back in October last year when the Cork man had not been appointed as a County Councillor yet.
The banners invite people to Ó Cadhla’s office located at 99 Douglas Street on June 27th to discuss the issue. This meeting is part of series of sessions devoted to changing British street names in Cork, such as Victoria’s Cross, Marlborough Street, etc.
Inside O’Cadhla’s Meetings
Ó Cadhla’s meetings usually take place in his tiny office at 99 Douglas Street. Corkonians who attend the meetings are usually older citizens. The same group of his supporters regularly attend the meetings – except for people who attend out of curiosity or to object the cause.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla's office, Changing Street Names
Picture of an Anti-British Meeting at Ó Cadhla’s Office

This campaign along with the Irexit activism has given Ó Cadhla a considerable amount of publicity lately, helping him to get elected as Cork County Councillor from Cobh.

inside Diarmaid Ó Cadhla's office,
Code of Conduct at Councillor Ó Cadhla’s office

Just a few months ago the Councillor was detained on charges of vandalism when the Gardaí caught him painting on British street signs of the city. Ó Cadhla claims he was verbally abused by the Gardaí during an alleged two hours questioning.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Arrest, Vandalism, Gardaí , Garda Síochána
A Text Message Sent by Ó Cadhla to his Supporters after being Released from the Garda Station

In an exclusive interview with The Logical Radical last year, Ó Cadhla painted a gloomy image of the country and promoted nationalistic ideas.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9Rj-HNFUjS6QkxNcWhPeDZPMlk/view

It is the first time that Councillor Ó Cadhla is shaming Cork people while promoting his Anti-British agenda.

 

Young and Disillusioned in Paris: A Look at Truffaut’s First Film “The 400 Blows”

“I have always preferred the reflect of the life to life itself.”

–    Francois Truffaut

Francois Truffaut’s first film “The 400 Blows” (“Les Quatre Cents Coups”) is the most intensely absorbing coming of age film ever made. It is the story of a school boy (Antoine Doinel) growing up in Paris. His parents and teachers consider him nothing but a troublemaker. The audience gets to see another side to him – when he puts up a poster of Balzac and makes a shrine for him by lighting a candle under his picture. This film has one of the most memorable endings: a shot of him looking straight into the camera. He has just broken free from a detention house, desperately tired; he runs until reaches the sea, caught between future and the past he looks behind and then walks towards the sea. He has never seen the sea before.

Jean-Pierre Léaud plays Antoine Doinel. The striking disillusionment in Léaud’s eyes makes you feel like he is not acting but rather living his life in front of the camera. This film was a start of a long collaboration between  Léaud and Truffaut. He was Truffaut’s Antoine again in a short film called “Antoine and Collette” (1962) and appeared in Truffaut’s three other films, “Stolen Kisses” (1968), “Bed and Board” (1970),“Love on the Run” (1979).

“The 400 Blows” considered being one of the first French New Wave Cinema films. Perhaps one of the elements that make such simple film so excellent would be the fact that its story is influenced by the director’s days as an adolescent. Truffaut dedicated the film to Andre Bazin who helped him to get his life together when he was a young man.

All the events of the movie seem to be there just to add to the impact of the film’s final shot. Film’s hero Antoine lives with his mother and stepfather and is in his early teens. Antoine’s mom, (Claire Maurier), is a blonde young woman who wants to keep away from her family – perhaps frustrated by their poverty, or distracted by an affair with someone from work. The boy’s stepfather, (Albert Remy), is a happy-go-lucky guy who tries to be as friendly as possible with Antoine – although he is not deeply attached to him. Both of his parents are preoccupied with their problems outside of the home and judge him by the terrible school reports.

Antoine’s teacher (Guy Decombie) knows him as a troublemaker and refuses to view him in a different light. He is not lucky either. When students pass a pin-up amongst each other in class, it is Antoine that gets caught with it. The teacher sends him to stand in the corner of the classroom as punishment where he writes a complaint on the wall. So the teacher orders him to wipe it off the wall, this stops him from transcribing tomorrow’s homework, so he skips class. However, he is forced to make an excuse for missing class, so he says his mother is dead. When her mother shows up at school, alive and outraged, he becomes known as a liar.

However, this boy reads Balzac and loves him. He loves him so much that unconsciously writes a part of one of his stories engrained in his memory in his school essay, and gets suspended from school over plagiarism.  From here his life takes a turn for the worst. He steals a typewriter from his stepfather’s workplace with his friend and gets caught and sent to detention house when tries to return it.

The only scene in which Antoine Doinel cries is where he is being driven through the streets of Paris to a detention house from the police station looking out of a barred police wagon– with a thief and three prostitutes.  His parents try to avoid taking him back in their conversations with authorities arguing that he will run away again. We see Antoine pulling up the collar of his jacket to his mouth from the day he gets arrested; we don’t know if Paris has gotten colder or that he feels colder away from his parents and under the care of social services.

However, the film has its fun moments as well. “Les Quatre Cents Coups” or “The 400 Blows” is a French expression which means “raising hell.” In one of the most hilarious scenes of the film, we see a physical education teacher leading a group of students on a morning jog on the streets of Paris. The boys run away two by two behind him until he ends up leading two students without realizing it. Another light moment in the film is when Antoine almost sets their place on fire by lighting a candle in a shrine he has made for Balzac in his bedroom. His parents forgive him, and they all go out to the movies. Antoine is happiest at that scene sitting in the backseat of his stepfather’s car laughing joyfully to his parents’ funny remarks about the film.

Truffaut made “The 400 Blows” when he was only 27 and died too soon at the age of 52 due to brain cancer, taking with himself many great ideas that could be fantastic movies. He made 21 films during his lifetime. However, “The 400 Blows” will always remain an ode to his younger self, fatherless and scared at school and on the streets of Paris. He was Antoine Doinel, and that makes this film so deeply touching.

When Jean-Luc Godard Changed Cinema: A Look at the Director’s First Film “Breathless”

Patricia Franchini: Listen. The last sentence is beautiful. “Between grief and nothing, I will take grief”. Which would you choose?

Michel Poiccard: …Grief’s stupid, I’d choose nothing. It’s no better, but grief’s a compromise. l want all or nothing.

Avant-garde filmmaking began with Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” (“A Bout de Souffle”) in 1960. One of the most influential films of French New Wave Cinema “Breathless” was the first movie in which “jump cuts” were debuted. Using jump-cuts means using “cuts within continuous movement or dialogue, with no attempt made to make them match.” This film is unique in showing an unprecedented amount of repulsion towards authority and in portraying young people who absorbed in their self-centered worlds, remain largely oblivious to what is going on in the real world.
Godard’s “Breathless” and Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde” directly influenced the youth rebellion of the 1960s. Perhaps, all young killers in Hollywood movies were trying to imitate Michel Poiccard (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
The surprise factor is compelling in “Breathless” as the events taking place in the movie appear very much accidental – as in real life. The two young characters are quite naive and immoral at the same time – as many young real-life criminals are. Michel the leading male character is a car thief who loves Humphrey Bogart and tries to act like a tough gangster that he is not. The young female character of the film is Patricia (played by Jean Seberg) an American in Paris who wants to enroll at the Sorbonne and meanwhile sells Paris editions of the New York Herald-Tribune on the streets. They are both unsure of what they want to become in life. Michel seems to kill just to keep a gangster persona. His tough act appears to be one of the reasons Patricia pursues him- she is also sexually attracted to him.
Michel practices the facial expressions of movie stars in the mirror, dresses like film noir gangsters and never stops smoking. Godard makes fun of chain-smoker leading male characters of movies when Michel takes his last breath, and a cloud of smoke comes out of his mouth. Maybe 26-year-old Jean-Paul Belmondo would appear a bit unattractive to play Michel (a New York Time reviewer called him “hypnotically ugly” at the time). But he plays Michel the way you can’t imagine him to be played by anyone else, and that is how you can tell that an actor is doing a good job. After all, we all know not being dashingly handsome does not stop French actors from becoming huge stars –Gerard Depardieu is one example of that.

Jean Seberg (film’s Patricia) was an American actress who found fame and success in France. Her film debut as St. Joan of Arc in Otto Preminger’s “Joan of Arc” (1957) didn’t go very well in America. In fact, she received terrible reviews for her acting in the movie. Preminger who had discovered her at 18 when she came to his talent search auditioning session made another movie with her the following year (Bonjour Tristesse) to prove the reviewers wrong, but it did not go well either. As a result of that Seberg, immigrated to Europe when she was 21 and was cast by Godard to play Patricia.
Patricia is the most enigmatic character in the movie – unlike Michel. We all know Michel is a young man whom fascinated by movie stars tries to act tough to hide his insecurities. But Patricia’s story is entirely different. She doesn’t find the fact that she might be pregnant to be paramount. She finds out Michel is indeed the cop murderer everyone’s looking for, has a wife and uses various aliases and takes this information with utmost indifference and detachment. One can’t possibly guess her thoughts from her facial expressions either. Her cheating on Michel is also a well-thought test – to find out if she loves him. Her cold-hearted, femme fatale persona is something that many reviewers have failed to point out – except for the late great Roger Ebert.

The film’s process of making was entirely experimental – as it was with most French New Wave Cinema films. Godard and many other New Wave Cinema directors started their careers as critics for an anti-establishment film magazine called Cahiers du Cinema. The whole film is an experiment. Godard wrote the script for each scene the same morning they had to shoot them. Director Claude Chabrol was the movie’s production designer; writer Pierre Boulanger plays the role of the police inspector, director Jean-Pierre Melville plays the writer whom Patricia interviews at a press conference and Godard and Francois Truffaut each play small roles in the film as well – Godard plays the role of the informer. Everyone behind the scene also helped a little in front of the camera– as in a film made by cinema students.
Raul Coutard film’s cinematographer (Godard’s favorite cinematographer) does a magnificent job, especially in the scene where Patricia and Michel are in bed smoking, and the clouds of smoke mingled with the light coming out of the window make it look as if they are sitting on a big cloud. It is the same scene in which Patricia comes home and finds Michel in her bed, they argue, flirt and smoke till she finally lets him make love to her. She presses her face on a painting of a girl by Renoir and asks Michel to judge who’s prettier at the same scene, and Michel sits next to a portrait of a man holding a mask by Picasso.
Godard uses jump-cuts throughout the film. A technique which emerged quite accidentally – Godard took a scissor and just cut everything he thought was boring. Jump-cuts went to become a popular technique amongst filmmakers.
“Breathless” received a spectacular reception from the public and film critics. Filmmakers left the theater questioning all the traditional notions of filmmaking. Godard had changed cinema permanently.

 

Cork County Councillor Sets EU Flag on Fire on Europe Day

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Independent Councillor for Cobh, set the EU flag on fire in front of the City Hall this evening.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, EU Flag Burning , City Hall, Europe Day
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla sets the EU Flag on Fire on Europe Day

Ó Cadhla who was surrounded by dozens of his supporters and bystanders spoke to them before setting the EU flag on fire.

Counting examples of other Europen Union countries Councillor Ó Cadhla said:” We’ve seen the heated debate in France and Holland, we know European Union membership is a red hot issue,” before going to praise Italy’s nationalist party for promising to hold a referendum on leaving the EU (Italexit) if elected in the next general election.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Eu Flag Burning City Hall Cork
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Speaking Next to EU’s Burnt Flag

Ó Cadhla counted the entrance of the United Kingdom the main reason behind Ireland’s joining the EU back in 1973. ” We are going to modernize you, they said. What has happened? We now have the highest levels of homelessness since the Great Famine,” said O’Cadhla blaming country’s housing crisis on the European Union Membership.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Cork City Hall Irexit
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla Standing in Front of Cork’s City Hall

” We have a lack of future for young people, every day is filled with anxiety. Senior citizens are afraid to get sick, so they’d be left on hospital trolleys. This is what modernization has brought us!”

Ó Cadhla finished his speech in Gaelic language and set the EU’s flag on fire in front of the City Hall to his supporters’ delight. He then invited his supporters to his office at 99 Douglas Street to have ” many cups of tea.”

Irexit Ó Cadhla Cork City Hall
Anti-EU Banner left Outside Cork City Hall by Ó Cadhla Supporters

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla who considers himself an independent politician had made news recently when he got arrested on charges of vandalism while painting on British street signs in Cork. Ó Cadhla was released after a couple of hours of questioning by the gardaí.

He was also briefly jailed for refusing to disclose his campaign donations for his unsuccessful run in Ireland’s 2011 general election. The jail time was due to his refusal to pay a 300 Euro fine.

He is currently serving as  Councillor for Cobh in Cork County Councill.