BELLE DE JOUR

By B. Walter Irvine

Belle de Jour – 1967 – dir. Luis Buñuel

From the very first scene, Belle de Jour announces the collision of imagination and reality. A carriage ride through the woods is plausible until a young woman, Séverine, is tied up, whipped, and on the verge of being used by the coachmen, egged on by her husband. A cut to her bedroom reveals that this has only been her daydream; her husband is actually an amiable surgeon who respectfully sleeps in a separate bed.

This confusion between Séverine’s real and imaginary lives is one of the film’s strategies: Rather than use cinematographic effects like a color or gauzy effect to separate Séverine’s internal world from the external one, director Luis Buñuel only provides thematic cues — carriages and the mention of cats — to signal that what we are seeing is not real, and the fantasies are that much more potent for being almost indistinguishable from the reality.

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MONSTERS

By B. Walter Irvine

Monsters – 2010 – dir. Gareth Edwards

Monsters is the story of Sam (Whitney Able), the daughter of the wealthy man who has pressed Andrew (Scoot McNairy), a photographer, into escorting her back to the United States from Mexico. This Mexico, it needs to be said, is a Mexico whose northern half is “the Infected Zone,” where giant aliens have roamed since they came to Earth six years ago.

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