Jeez, why wouldn't I want to write about these movies? They're all pretty quick, with the longest only lasting 91 minutes.
A movie in French about a girl from Senegal who is hired to be a nanny for a white family, but when she is brought back to their regular home in France, realizes how poorly they think of her. Her job changes to a more demanding and less interesting one, and the mother kind of treats her like crap, constantly demanding things of her, berating her, and not even letting her wear nice clothes in the house. Eventually she gets fed up with the treatment and takes drastic action. It's less than an hour, and the plot is slight even for that time, as a lot of it is just shots of her cleaning or cooking while narrating how much her life sucks. But there's something likable about the film, in the simple way it was shot, that makes it work.
Another silent propaganda film from Russia like The Battleship Potemkin, though less plot-driven and more focused on creating mood and imagery. It's very dreamlike, and a unique viewing experience, though one that I was mostly bored by. I can't really see this movie succeeding in actually getting a lot of people passionate about its message. It's certainly an important film in terms of developing styles other people would borrow from, but there's not much else I took from it.
A bizarre little horror film by David Cronenberg, starring James Woods as the executive in charge of a small TV station that specializes in sex and violence. He is shown a pirated program that he becomes fascinated by, and is drawn into its world before realizing the true intent behind its creation, which is strange and sinister. I wasn't really scared much by the movie, but more intrigued by its practical effects, which are still effectively gross today, and by its weird, twisty plot. Based on limited experience, I don't think I like young body horror Cronenberg as much as older psychological Cronenberg, but it's an enjoyable movie anyway.
It's interesting to see the kind of movies that would get banned 40 or 50 years ago and wouldn't cause much of a hoopla at all these days. There's definitely some messed up things that happen in Viridiana, but the way they're portrayed is pretty subtle, or at least non-graphic enough that it would be hard to justify censoring it. It's about a woman who's about to become a nun, but gets drawn away from that life and eventually takes in several disabled beggars to help with an estate. You can read an anti-altruism message into it, but I'm not sure if that's really an agenda Luis Buñuel has or just something that happens in the movie. Like many black and white movies from the 60s, it's also really nice to look at.
Bonus Movie! Un Chien Andalou
Buñuel's first and probably most famous film is this, a short he wrote with Salvador Dali and directed. I had already seen the famous eye scene before, but this was my first time watching the whole thing. It's incredibly watchable for a surreal silent movie made with the intent of not having any of it actually mean something, with a big part of it probably being that you only have to sit through fifteen minutes of it. Lots of great off-the-wall images and cute visual trickery strings together a bunch of nonsense scenes with little connecting them beyond title cards that probably hinder understanding more than they help it. Definitely something anyone who's into film history should see.