Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Endless Poetry, The Projected Man & Blade Runner 2049

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 8, 2018 07:20pm | Post a Comment

Movie Moment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to the second Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi, where I review new releases on Blu-ray and DVD. This month I review a new movie by surrealist wild man Alejandro Jodorowsky, a classic monster movie from the sixties, and the stylish new sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner 2049. Everything reviewed in this column came out in the past four months. So here we go:

Endless Poetry, Alejandro JodorowskyEndless Poetry, ABKCO:
Alejandro Jodorowsky is in his late eighties but he's still making movies. Cinema's arguably greatest maverick is not going quietly into that great night. In fact, this is the second film he's put out in the past five years. Both films have been biographical in nature although, like the rest of Jodorosky's films, reality is often just a launch pad for his surrealist flights of fantasy. Just like Federico Fellini, in Jodorowsky's movies it's hard to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins. In fact, this movie has some obvious nods to Fellini films such as 8 1/2 and Juliette of The Spirits. But make no mistake, this movie is pure Jodorosky and goes to places Fellini could never imagine. Just like the rest of his films, there are things in this movie you'll never be able to unsee. There is one scene that depicts a performance art piece where an armless man enlists audience participation to help him caress and make love to his wife that is one of the more disturbing things I've seen in years. Let's make a check list for this film: Random disemboweling? Check. Love triangle with a dwarf? Check. A mother whose only way to communicate is by singing opera? Check. A parade of skeletons? Check. Weird Freudian sex? Check. Strange orgies of psychedelic art? Check. In fact, this checklist could go on almost forever, because on one level this is a mere biography and on another this is a movie about life, the universe, and everything. This film and it's predecessor are the works of an artist at the end of his life trying to teach us the lessons he has learned and what it all means. On a certain level, this is one of the drawbacks of the film. Endless Poetry is not as good as The Holy Mountain, El Topo, and Santa Sangre because those films were delirious searches for the truth, whereas this film is made by a man who has his answers and wants to explain them to us. It's a calmer more controlled work. That difference in tone makes this a more, dare we say, "traditional" film than Jodorosky's early deranged masterpieces. But that is no slight against this picture; the only one Jodorosky is in competition with is the earlier version of himself. This is probably the most crazed and surreal movie that will be released this year. Jodorosky is still in a category unto himself.

The Projected ManThe Projected Man, Shout Factory:
When I was a kid this movie used to play on TV all the time. But then I didn't see it for decades until it reached the point where this film became an almost dreamlike, dimly-remembered childhood memory. It never came out on video or DVD or any format in the U.S. until now. Since Shout Factory is the company that puts out the movies of your childhood dreams, they are of course the ones who finally released The Projected Man. The story is about the horrible side effects of matter teleportation and in many ways this movie is like a remake of The Fly starring Vincent Price. The plots of the two films are essentially the same but after the mad scientists suffer their accidents, the films go in different directions. The main character of The Fly seeks a cure and redemption, but the scientist in The Projected Man mainly wants revenge. Revenge is easy for him because his accident has left him with the ability to kill with a single touch of his hand. So the scientist/victim in The Projected Man starts killing both his enemies and innocent bystanders. The last hour of this film is a creepy fun ride. With his horribly disfigured face and lethal touch, the Projected Man is a classic monster, the stuff of Saturday matinee nightmares. This movie totally lived up to my memories. Shout Factory's transfer of the film is immaculately perfect. The flawless picture and sound, and tons of bonus materials, make watching this a sumptuous guilty pleasure.

Blade Runner 2049Blade Runner 2049, Warner Brothers:
This was a really polarizing movie. Everyone I asked about it either loved or hated it. Either they thought it was the new intellectual and stylistic future of science fiction cinema or they thought it was just confusing, slow, and boring. Some people went so far as to call it, "the best science fiction movie ever made." I watched it with my wife and, while she thought it was well made, she found the pace too plodding. "It's like you can see where the plot is going but it takes the movie twenty minutes to get there when they could easily have done it in five,” she said. But you know who would have really loved this movie? Philip K. Dick who wrote the original novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? I've read most of Dick's short stories and more than ten of his novels, and one of the main themes he developed was that the more we make our technology resemble ourselves, the more that tech will actually be like us. In novels like We Can Build You, he asks the question: once we develop androids and robots that are exactly like us, how can they not actually be human? It's kind of like that old argument, if it looks like a duck, and acts like a duck... except in Dick's world you replace the word "duck" with "human." Blade Runner 2049 examines similar ideas better than any movie I have ever seen. The main character has an artificial intelligence program similar to Siri on our iPhones. Over the course of the film, this AI program becomes as human and likable as any of the actual humans in the movie. And many times in this film it's hard to tell who the "real" humans are because androids, who are indistinguishable from them, are hiding throughout society. The new film picks up thirty years after the events of the last one (Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi masterpiece). Ryan Gosling portrays one of the new generation of "blade runners" who are bounty hunters tasked with hunting down renegade androids on the run and hidden in human society. The twist to this new movie is that Gosling and the other blade runners are themselves androids, although they lack the free will of the renegade models they are hunting down. But Gosling's character starts to develop free will as he's drawn into a complex mystery surrounding an android who may have actually given birth. This is a beautifully made movie that completely deserved it's Oscars for best cinematography and visual effects. The dystopian California of the future the film portrays is a completely realized place. But this film's real ace in the hole is Harrison Ford. Just as in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he seems to be the silver lining in everything he appears in. If you are a lover of science fiction, you have to see this movie. It might not be the best science fiction movie ever made but Philip K. Dick himself would have definitely given it the thumb's up.

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Jon Longhi (34), Movie Moment (20), Film (202), Alejandro Jodorowsky (4), Fellini (3), Federico Fellini (1), Horror (218), Sci-fi (53), Blade Runner (6), Philip K. Dick (6), Ridley Scott (4), Ryan Gosling (4), Harrison Ford (2)