Filmmaking Fantasy and Fun

Article excerpt

Filmmakers and movie stars with a special interest in the inventive, the innovative, and sometimes the outrageous are the focus of new books that cover a wide range of classic activity in world cinema.

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: CONVERSATIONS WITH LUIS BUNUEL, by Jose de la Colina and Tomas Perez Turrent (Marsilio Publishers, 262 pp., $24) is a visit with the late Spanish director, who is known as the greatest of surrealist filmmakers and has even been called the most gifted surrealist in any artistic field.

Luis Bunuel was an unusual character in life as well as in cinema, moreover, earning a towering reputation yet generally refusing to discuss his work with critics or admirers. I remember attending a private party for him in the 1970s, and being warned in advance that any question too "journalistic" might drive him to grab his coat and make a hasty exit. I stayed prudently quiet, missing the possibility of a great interview but avoiding any misplaced word that might deprive the party of its most honored guest.

During the middle and late '70s, however, Bunuel made an exception to his rule of silence and granted a series of interviews to two of his Mexican friends. Now available in English, their conversations cover everything from the filmmaker's provincial childhood to the making of Bunuel masterpieces from "Un chien andalou" and "L'Age d'or" to "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and "That Obscure Object of Desire," with such overlooked gems as "Mexican Bus Ride" and his Hollywood epic, "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe," in between.

Like his films, Bunuel's discussions aren't always delicate or polite, as his celebrated autobiography ("My Last Sigh") demonstrated a few years ago. The authors acknowledge that their Bunuel interviews overlap a good deal with that book, but the filmmaker's fans around the world are unlikely to find this unexpected new volume superfluous in any way.

MY METHOD: WRITINGS AND INTERVIEWS, by Roberto Rossellini (Marsilio Publishers, 256 pp., $24) comes from a filmmaker who was a less flamboyant artist than Bunuel; but as a founder of Italy's neorealist movement in the 1940s - determined to inject real life into a national cinema that had grown stagy and artificial - Roberto Rossellini was every bit as inventive and influential. He was also a controversial public personality, whose noisily reported relationship with Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman came close to wrecking both their careers.

Rossellini was a film critic and a commentator on his own career, too, as this collection of essays, articles, and interviews attests. Subjects are as varied as the neorealist philosophy, the intentions behind such films as "Stromboli" and "The Flowers of St. …

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