DVDs: Part 3

Gift guide

DVDs: Part 3

L'Age D'Or

Kino International, $24.95

Un Chien Andalou

Facets Video, $19.95

Perhaps it was lying in wait for DVD all along. Could any film be more agreeably hostile to a scholarly commentary track than Luis Buñuel's L'Age D'Or? Pity Robert Short (author, The Age of Gold: Surrealist Cinema), who knowingly walks into this ambush: One can't help but sound like an asshole discussing the film's "alchemical marriage of shit and gold" over images of its fun couple wallowing in filth and each other, or shrimping away at a statue's toes. However illuminating the analysis and historical context, to be right about that alchemical marriage is to get covered in shit appraising the gold (and you can man the hose if you think I don't realize I'm hip-deep myself).

Banned by governments and clergy, suppressed even by the patron who commissioned it, L'Age D'Or probably won't incite riots at the video store now the way it did at Parisian cinemas in 1930, though its shocks and hilarity remain sufficiently potent to shame most of today's overcrowded field of cinematic provocateurs. If more suggestive of pornography than literally pornographic, it might still be the dirtiest movie ever made, or at least possessing the dirtiest mind, in addition to being one of the most forthrightly blasphemous. So perhaps Kino's postelection timing of the film's debut on disc couldn't have turned out better, making it the perfect immoral values gift of Christmas 2004.

Actually, perfection would be to wrap it up with Buñuel's first picture, Un Chien Andalou, also newly released on DVD, with documentary extras charting the director's collaboration, friendship, and falling out with co-scenarist Salvador Dali over the course of the two films. Plus, it extends the Pythonesque absurdity of scholarship, authority, and classicism applauding their own toppling into an open sewer. In any event, they'll give perverse pleasure enough while we wait for Criterion to really step in it.

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