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Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles

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Luis Buñuel’s third film, Las Hurdes (Land Without Bread), was the director’s only documentary. For his first feature, visual effects designer Salvador Simó puts into cartoon motion an adaptation of Fermin Solis’ graphic novel based on the months Buñuel spent making the 27-minute short. For 80 minutes I sat contemplating the necessity of this pen-and-ink adaptation. Producer and friend Ramón Acín Aquilué promised to finance the short if and when he won the lottery. Never have the proceeds from a sweepstakes ticket been put to greater artistic advantage. Buñuel made Las Hurdes in part to vamp fashionable documentary travelogues — why not afford the most backward spot on earth the same lavish treatment generally reserved for gilt-edged stomping grounds like Monte Carlo or Rio de Janeiro? — but you wouldn't know it by watching this. It would have been less of a hurdle had a parenthetical (Drama Without Animation) been tacked onto Simó’s title. Actors could have outperformed these starchy figures ten-to-one, while the film’s few fantasy sequences could just as easily have been made with greenscreen or shown as animated inserts. Was the goal to be more faithful to a comic book than the genius who inspired it? (2018) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 24 minutes
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