Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Bunuel Y La Mesa del Rey Salomon
Spain/Mexico/Germany, 2001. Rioja Films Producciones Cinematográficas S.L., Centre Promotor de la Imatge S.A., Castelao Producciones, Road Movies Filmproduktion, Altavista Films, Televisión Española, Canal+ España, Televisió de Catalunya, Ministerio de Cultura, Eurimages, Fondo Ibermedia, Gobierno de Aragón Departamento de Cultura y Turismo, Gobierno de La Rioja, Caja de Ahorros de La Rioja, ICF Institut Català de Finances, Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, Jesús Ciordia P.C.. Screenplay by Carlos Saura, Agustin Sanchez Vidal. Cinematography by Jose Luis Lopez-Linares. Produced by Montserat Bou. Music by Roque Baños. Production Design by Luis Ramírez. Costume Design by Cristina Rodriguez. Film Editing by Julia Juaniz. Toronto International Film Festival 2001.
Deliciously odd little tale about a fictionalized Luis Bunuel (Academy Award-winning director of such foreign classics as Belle De Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie among others) who is one day at lunch offered a great movie idea about explorers looking for King Solomon’s allegedly magical table in Toledo, Spain. The director goes home, mulls it over and suddenly starts imagining the whole film played out with a younger version of himself, Salvador Dali and Federico Garcia Lorca as the protagonists. The humor that is supposed to evolve from the three characters actually knowing that they are in a movie fantasy is never all that effective, mostly because it’s done so haphazardly. Where the film succeeds is in capturing the essence of the work of its three stars: the visuals (including some impressive digital effects) resemble the kinky exuberance of Dali’s paintings, the dialogue at times reaches the self-reflective beauty of Lorca’s best poems and the story tinkers around in Bunuel’s half-dreamlike, half-slapstick style (though not quite as passionately). Some might find it too alienating, but I’m sure the fantastic cinematography and healthy sense of fun will make it agreeable to most. Features a cameo by Bunuel’s frequent writing collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere.