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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.

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A Brief History of the Alien Films in Honor of the Release of "Alien: Covenant"

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 19, 2017 05:47pm | Post a Comment

Aliens CovenantBy Jon Longhi

The newest Alien movie, Alien: Covenant, came out on DVDBlu-Ray, and 4K-Ultra HD this month and is available at Amoeba Music, so now is as good a time as any to revisit the history of the Alien franchise. First, it’s important to point out that if it weren’t for the cracked phantasmagorical genius of Alejandro Jodorowsky there would never have been an Alien franchise.

Back in the mid-1970s, he assembled one of the greatest creative teams in history to make a film version of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune. Jodorowsky’s movie was going to be a loose interpretation of Herbert’s novel that used the book as a springboard for Jodorowsky’s own psychedelically cosmic ideas. Even though he had lined up Pink Floyd to do the soundtrack; H.R. Giger and Moebius to do do the visual and costume designs; Dan O’Bannon to do the effects; and Mick Jagger, Orson Wells, and Salvador Dali to star in it, Jodorowsky still couldn’t get the film green-lighted. The studios saw the director as too outlandish to be marketable. The great irony of all this was that Jodorowsky took his Dune material and turned it into some of the most successful graphic novels in history. The creative team he assembled went on to be some of the biggest movers and shakers in pop culture. The first cinematic collaboration that came out of the wreckage of Jodorowsky’s Dune was a couple years later when H. R. Giger teamed up with Dan O’Bannon to make the first Alien movie. The film became an instant classic and the iconic monster Giger created fuels the franchise to this day. All this is wonderfully explained in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune.

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Exodus shocker -- the latest Hollywood Bible cartoon isn't very realistic

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 17, 2014 09:06am | Post a Comment

The other day I found out that some people are outraged by the casting in a Hollywood film -- in this case Ridley Scott's latest effort, Exodus: Days of Future Past (or whatever its full title is). They're apparently so upset that they're boycotting it, which is something I do with all but one or two Hollywood films every year although I refer to it simply as not paying to see it.

The problem that the boycotters have, it seems, is that Exodus is almost completely historically inaccurate (It's safe to guess that most of the Egyptian and Jewish characters are most portrayed by Anglo-Saxons and presumably speak Modern (if pretentious) English with a modern British accent, or approximation of one. Without having watched a trailer I'd guess that there aren't a lot of apparently Middle Eastern Africans portraying Middle Eastern Africans and the actual actors of African descent are used entirely for background color and supporting roles). 

Apparently these scandalized and offended won't-be viewers have never seen a Hollywood film before... or assumed that they'd somehow completely change their raison d'etre. Even at Hollywood's artistic peak in the 1930s, racial sensitivity and historical accuracy were not exactly hallmarks of Hollywood films -- making loads of money was, and that's what they did and they did it well. At one point Hollywood made loads of money with elaborately choreographed, brilliantly scored, escapist musicals. Nowadays Hollywood makes loads of money with loud CGI superhero cartoons. Sometimes -- rarely -- art slips through the cracks. Much more often big, dumb-looking movies like Exodus get released that look rather like the big, dumb movies that Hollywood was mostly pumped out for the last 90 years.

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Some Weak Stitching: What I Didn't Like about Prometheus (2012)

Posted by Charles Reece, June 10, 2012 11:56pm | Post a Comment
prometheus poster janee meadows

Finally, Ridley Scott returns to what he does best, science fiction. And Prometheus is the best looking and visually imaginative example of the genre since his Blade Runner. The writing is hackneyed, however, existing only as a cheap frame to support the spectacle. The film begins with a staple of classic SF, the extraterrestrial explanation of abiogenesis (borrowed from The Chariot of the Gods), which doesn't make a lick of sense, and ends with a cosmic duel to the death between the unstoppable penis and the unmovable vagina, which is about all I could ask of a movie. Going with the idea that literary SF is the "literature of cognitive estrangement," the "critical genre par excellence,Carl Freedman has expressed skepticism that -- with few exceptions that prove the rule (e.g., 2001) -- the cinematographic version will ever rival its written counterpart because of "an aesthetic hegemony of special effects that is fundamentally antithetical to the conceptual core of science fiction itself." However, if Prometheus says anything interesting, and I believe it does, it's mostly as an effects-laden spectacle, which I'll get to in my next post. For now, I'm going to focus on trying to make sense out the story, or, more accurately, question the nonsense. (I assume anyone reading this has already seen the movie, or doesn't care about spoilers.)

The origin of life -- or, at least, humanity as we know it -- in the prologue involves a hairless, bluish-white humanoid bodybuilder drinking some black goo, which causes his body to dissolve into a waterfall some time in Earth's distant past. The desolate, inorganic landscapes during the credits suggest a primordial world, but I'm not sure whether this scene is actually supposed to be the origin of all life (3.5 billion years ago), or if it's what gave the great apes the evolutionary advantage some 14 million years ago, or if it's what resulted in the modern human 200,000 years ago. Regardless, the genetic jumpstart occurred at least 200,000 years ago. This leads to a lot of problems in the script that shouldn't have been all that difficult to rectify had anyone in this $130 million dollar project bothered checking Wikipedia:

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