Reviews written by registered user
|134 reviews in total|
How can the average person describe the Holy Mountain? They can't, It's one of those films that is so bizarre that one has to witness it at least 5 times to fully appreciate it. Alejandro Jodorowsky takes every form of religion and mysticism and puts it into symbolic imagery, that turns into a two hour mind trip. The film is not thrown together, each scene is so chock full of strange imagery, yet each image has a particular meaning. The plot concerns, the thief, who seems to be representational of Christ in modern times. The thief awakens in the desert, almost crucified by children, he is then rescued by an amputee dwarf. After him and the dwarf share a joint, they travel through different scene after scene of surreal images. In one scenario a police state has taken over downtown Mexico. Innocent people are massacred, and birds fly out of their bullet wounds. The conquest of Mexico is reenacted by frogs and iguanas. The Christ character gets drunk with Roman soldiers, and they make a mold of him to produce statues for profit. And this is all in the first twenty minutes. The occult science of alchemy is another factor of the film. The thief finally meets the alchemist, played by Jodorowsky himself, and the alchemist turns his excrement into gold. The black magic of alchemy involves the nine planets of the solar system. We are then introduced to 7 of the most powerful people in the world named after the planets of the solar system. Each person is corrupt and greedy involved in politics, war or mass marketing. Each person who has their own planet, and a weakness is willing to give up their money and be reborn as a Buddhist monk. In a way these people are alchemists also since they have the ability to turn worthless items such as weapons and cosmetics into riches. Since money is just paper, in a way the magic of alchemy in everyday life convinces us that the dollar bill is of value. Many aspects of life are just an illusion, just as in cinema. In the Holy Mountain Jodorowsky proves to be the master of illusion like a magician. Also his character, the Alchemist has the job of spiritual leader to lead all of the 9 people to the Holy Mountain including the Christ character and the women with the Kaballah tattoos. Also the film is indulgent at times in it's Frued like sexuality and nudity. It is both strange and intriguing, both hilarious and horrifying, and one of the weirdest films your most likely to see. Their is so much that happens in this film, that it's almost impossible to describe. People who are looking for deep meaning in films like Donnie Darko need to keep searching, the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky would be a good start. The Holy Mountain is not only a masterpiece, it's a spiritual journey, and it just might very well change the way you look at the world. Not everyone will like it, so sit back and watch with an open mind. The Holy Mountain is one of the most underrated and important films ever made. 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What do David Lynch, Luis Bunuel and Wes Craven have in common? They
have all created far superior films about dreams on a fraction of
Christopher Nolan's budget. For a film about dreams everything looks so
dull and drained of color. Inception never feels surreal like a dream.
It feels like ridiculous PG-13 action sequences strung together by
character's explaining it's all a dream within a dream etc. When
watching this film, I thought of far superior films about dreams and
alternate realities, Bunuel and Dali's "Un Chien Andalou" (1929), "The
Blood of a Poet" (1930), "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), Hitchcock's
"Spellbound" (1946), "Meshes of the Afternoon" (1947), Dr. Sues' "5,000
Fingers of Dr. T" (1953), "Le Jetee" (1962), Fellini's "8 1/2" (1963),
"Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors" (1963) Fellini's, "Juliet of the Spirits"
(1966), "Who Wants to Kill Jesse" (1966), "Valerie and her Week of
Wonders" (1970), "Viva La Muerte" (1970), "The Discreet Charm of the
Bourgeoisie" (1972), Tarkovsky's "Solaris" (1972), "The Hourglass
Sanitorium" (1973), "Eraserhead" (1977) "Altered States" (1980), "Time
Bandits" (1981), Pink Floyd's "The Wall" (1982), "Forbidden Zone"
(1982) "Videodrome" (1983), "A Nightmare on Elmstreet" (1984),
"Dreamscape"(1984), "Brazil" (1985), "Paperhouse" (1988), The B-movie
"Beyond Dreams Door" (1989), "Santa Sangre" (1989), "Jacob's Ladder"
(1990), "Kurosawa's Dreams" (1990) "Total Recall" (1990), "Naked Lunch"
(1991), "Arizona Dream" (1993), John Carpenter's "In the Mouth of
Madness" (1995), "12 Monkeys" (1995),"City of Lost Children" (1995),
"Lost Highway" (1997), "Dark City" (1998), "The Matrix" (1999),
"eXistenZ" (1999), "Being John Malkovich" (1999), "The Cell" (2000),
"Waking Life" (2001), "Donnie Darko" (2001), "Muholland Drive" (2001),
"Demon Lover" (2002), "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004),
"Strange Circus" (2005), "The Fall" (2006), "The Science of Sleep"
(2006), "Pan's Labrynth" (2006), "Paprika" (2006) and the list goes on
and on and on. 100's of French and Asian films; hell, even the
"Nightmare on Elmstreet" sequels.
In "Inception" Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb, a dream thief who can enter people's dreams and steal top secret information. Like his character in "Shutter Island" (which had better dream sequences) Leo is obsessed with his dead wife and longs to go home to see his kids. He's given a mission by a corporate boss to enter a rival's dream and implant false information. By completing this mission, he'll be able to go home to his kids. Dom hires an architect played by Ellen Page to create false dream worlds. Then there's his agents, who are one dimensional rip offs of characters from "The Matrix" (A far more entertaining film) For a film about dreams, you'd expect a little Fruedian sex or nudity. Oh no we don't want are dreams to go beyond a mass-marketed PG-13 rating. Or how about at least abstract surrealism or stream of consciousness dialog? Instead we have all the character's taking time out to explain everything to Hans Zimmer's overblown music. In the words of Ariadne "Wait, Who's subconscious are we going through exactly?". That's odd, a shootout on skis, "James Bond" style and Look I'm floating like in "The Matrix" (Lets not get to bizarre or fun) Maybe, I'm being critical, because I'm by no means a fan of Christopher Nolan. "Momento" and "The Dark Night" were good films, but should never be mentioned in the same breath as HItchcock or Kubrick. People really anger me comparing Inception to "Blade Runner", or "2001, A Space Odyssey". Even "Avatar" had more heart and soul than "Inception". In "Avatar", I actually cared about the characters and felt like I was in a different world. In this film how am I supposed to care for rich corporate suits who want to steal secrets. How about having an Exxon executive jumping in the dreams of a BP executive? If it's all a dream within a dream within a dream of one dimensional Hollywood characters, why should the audience care? And why take 150 mins. to tell a story, when it could of been done in less than 2 hrs.?
On one note, the special effects were impressive and the film did have great acting. I think this film could of been good if it was more colorful and dreamlike and maybe 45 mins. shorter. "Inception" fell cold and flat of having a heart and soul. Why do films now look gray, poo brown or washed out in color? Movies used to be so much brighter. Compare this film to "Suspiria" (1977), "What Dreams may Come" and "Edward Scissorhands" and you'll see what I mean. Spending $200 million dollars on a film that could of fed a 3rd world country for 10 years, is more of a nightmare than a dream. All that money spent and it still looks visually boring, artless and dull. As a person who practically makes minimum wage and lives off Ramen noodles, I watch sci-fi and fantasy films for an escape. Why would I care about a rich corporate rival who has a bad relationship with his father? Boo-hoo! In the end I felt like I was viewing the unimaginative dreams of Wall Street brokers. This is a film made by a room fool of people, rather than an artist with a vision. A mass marketed product like fast food, masquerading itself as nutrition. For this film to be in IMDb's top 5 is a joke; this is mediocre at best. People are saying that this is better than "The Wizard of Oz", "Pulp Fiction", "Blue Velvet" or Citizen Kane". I must be dreaming, no I kicked myself and this is for real.
Director Srdjan Dragojevic's Bosnian war film "Pretty Village, Pretty Flame" is an amazing movie about two friends separated by the cost of war. Milan is Serbian, and Halil is Muslim. They are best friends, and we learn much about them through flashbacks in the story. The movie is shown out of sequence, so we see Milan in the hospital, and through the various flashbacks we witness what got him to the hospital. One of the films images which stands out in my mind, is the beginning with the opening of the 1980 peace tunnel. During the celebration the man cuts his finger instead of the ribbon. Then we are forced to move unto the present where peace is far from any mindset. Both friends as children are afraid to go into a tunnel, for they fear an ogre lives in there. All grown up and in the heat of battle, Milan and his squad hide from the Muslims in that particular tunnel, only to be trapped there for days in a grueling stand off between the Serbs and Muslims. They almost become the ogres. Mulan remembers the good times with Halil, before the war broke out. A medical supply truck driven by a recovering junkie gets trapped in the cave also with a female American journalist who is hidden inside. The film is very realistic, but at the same time manages to throw in some dark comedy. Even when Mulan is in the hospital and can hardly move from injuries, he is still hellbent on killing a Bosnian soldier who is in the next room over. All he can think about is his mother and his family who is dead, and his fellow comrade who is almost dead. His other friend, the professor comforts him and tries to convince him that revenge is not worth it. From that point on the film grows more psychologically disturbing. There is so much in this film, that it is hard to describe unless you've seen it or understand the Bosnian conflict. "Pretty Village, Pretty Flame" is far from a typical Hollywood war film. Although the film is told through the view of the Serbian side, No military act is justified. This has to be one of the saddest films I have ever seen. Another image that haunts me even after the film has ended, is the scene where the ground is covered head to toe with dead corpses, including children. Emotional accordion music plays in the background, as the brutal nature of war is shown in a way a Hollywood film would never be able to. "Pretty Village Pretty Flame" is one of the best and underrated war films of all time. See it to remind yourself of how sad and terrible war is. It's a tense dramatic film that stays with you, long after it's over 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Santa Sangre" is one of Jodorowsky's most accessible films. Although not as strange as "El Topo" and "the Holy Mountain", it is still very bizarre ..... A colorful, horrifying and hallucinatory masterpiece. Many have compared it to "Psycho", "Freaks" and "Fellini". In my opinion, you can't compare it to anything because it's in its own category. Produced by Claudio Argento, brother of Dario Argento; the film does have a similar color style to "Suspiria". "Santa Sangre" is the story of Fenix, a man in a mental institution at the films beginning. A flashback shows Fenix as a child, growing up in the circus. His mother, Concha is a trapeze artist and religious fanatic who worships an armless god. His father Olgo is a knife thrower, who is constantly having flirtatious encounters with the ugly, cruel tattooed women. Fenix's closest friends are a mute mime, a dwarf and of course clowns. After a circus performance, Fenix's mother catches Olgo having an affair with the tattooed lady. In a fit of jealous rage, she dumps acid on their genital regions. Then Olgo cuts off Concha's arms like the goddess, and then cuts his own throat. Poor Fenix witnesses the death of his father, and the Tattooed women drives away with his mute friend Alma. Years later Fenix is reunited with his armless mother, she's out for revenge. In order for her to throw knives, he has to stand behind her and put his arms through her sleeves. It's as if she controls his arms with her mind. "Santa Sangre" is very bloody, disturbing and surreal, but at the same time beautiful and dreamlike. It contains bizarre images such as an elephant funeral, chickens falling from the sky, and mentally handicapped kids tricked into snorting cocaine. (the last being a metaphor for societies corruption of the innocent) Because the film is psychologically disturbing, it makes me confront my deepest subconscious fears; loss of arms, genitals or sanity. I have watched the film more than several times, and it is one of my favorite movies. Every time I watch it, I cringe as I'm challenged by both its beauty and disturbing intensity. So it's not really a horror film, but a surreal masterpiece with horrifying images. It will haunt you long after it's over.
It's difficult to describe this rare film by Terayama. I was lucky enough to track down a rare subtitled version of the film. Although the quality was faded, the film still had me glued to the screen. Trippy color filters and noise rock interludes of Sing along angst ridden protest music. The music sounds like punk rock, but the film was made 6 years before the punk movement broke out. The music of the film had to of had some sort of influence on the punk scene. The film has an unconventional narrative style almost like Gummo. Basic story is about a teen in Japan, who plays soccer and deals with his highly dysfunctional family. His grandma is senile, his sister loves her pet rabbit to the point of sexual obsession, and his father gets him a prostitute so he can be more of a man. Out of rage our protagonist runs away and hits the street. But the main story is broken up by random short narratives of various Japanese strangers, punk like sing alongs and psychedelic surreal imagery. The funniest scene has to be when a young girl and teen guy hang up a penis shaped punching bag in a public side walk area. The Directer Terayama was the founder of Japanese Avant-Garde style theater in Japan, Emperor Tomato Ketchup is his more well known film. This is definitely one of the strangest and best Japanese films ever made!!! 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's almost virtually impossible tracking down a copy of this film since both the Facets VHS went out of print and the Brazilian DVD release too. Finally after months of being on an amazon.com waiting list, I checked Ebay and 1 copy was available. "Sweet Movie" is very bizarre, surreal, funny and at times disgusting. It's like Alejandro Jodorowky and John Waters teamed up to make a film. There are so many strange images in this film, I can't even remember everything I witnessed. The story concerns a girl who enters a virginity pageant and wins. She marries a rich oil tycoon with a golden penis. She doesn't want to stay with him, so he has a muscular man pack her in a suitcase and ship her to Paris. There she meets a Spanish singer, and they have sex in public and get stuck together. At the same time another lady by the name of Anna Planet is on a Marxist ship, she gets kinky with a sailor and kills him while having sex in a pile of sugar. She also uses candy to seduce children. Although she strips in front of the kids, and this scene is extremely uncomfortable to watch; Makavejev leaves the sex off screen as the kid goes behind a curtain. Miss Virginity (Carol Laure) is not so virgin like now, as she joins the strange anarchist sex antics of The Vienna Aktionists. This is when the film starts to become repulsive. They urinate on each other, smear feces on one another, vomit, dance naked and many other depraved acts. Then later we see actress Carol Laure masturbating in a vat of chocolate. Although "Sweet Movie" sounds disgusting, it's actually pretty funny. In the first part I was laughing, in the second part gasping. To top it all off it's somewhat a musical! I can't get the theme song out of my head. "Is there life on the earth?, Is there life after birth?" (sing it with me) "Sweet Movie" is a very important work of world cinema. It is a revolutionary Marxist sex comedy, so to speak. It's also "finger licking good"!
First off, I was shocked at the low rating this film got. Probably because not many people have seen it. Jean Rollin is mostly known for his violent and sexual vampire movies. That's why I've never seen any of his films till now. Maybe I'll have to see more of his movies. La Rose De Fer (the Iron Rose) is one of the most sensual and beautiful horror films I've ever seen. The plot is simple yet effective. A beautiful french women meets a guy at a wedding. He asks her out. They decide to take a romantic walk in the cemetery. The couples bright yellow and red outfits add a contrast to the dark setting. They decide to make love in a tomb, and when they get out they discover they are trapped in the cemetery. They keep walking, but end up in the same spot. The cemetery almost becomes never ending and it seems there is no way out. This leads the couple to slowly loose their sanity. The girl almost enjoys the cemetery too much. Although the movie doesn't have much nudity, it has a very surreal and sexy feel to it. There really isn't any violence in the film either, but that doesn't stop it from being creepy. The dialog flows like poetry, and the Gothic atmosphere almost paints a picture. It's definitely a film thats visually rich with compositions as breathtaking as anything done by Antonioni or Greenaway. Fans of bizarre art-house films will definitely find it worth watching. Although the film moves slow at times, it's still flawless in it's vision. A perfect horror film to watch on a date.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Cremator" is a film that is dark and unforgettable with its horrifying images. At times it's an extremely dark comedy, but mostly a psychological horror satire. In Wold War II Czechoslovakia, Kopfrkingl is a rich and wealthy cremator. He's obsessed with his job to the point of sadistic insanity. He thinks that cremating people is a way to free them for the afterlife. His hunger for power causes him to join up with the Nazi occupiers. That's when he really goes nuts, he even thinks his family needs to be killed; including his son Milli for being too flamboyant. He takes over the crematory by murdering the head director. He longs to build a larger crematorium, where he can pretty much dispose of anyone not living up to the Reich's standards. Again in his own sick mind, he wants to free them for the afterlife and reincarnation. The film is extremely disturbing in it's psychological atmosphere. Director Juraj Herz builds tension as the film progressively gets worse as it goes on. Amazing cinematography, surreal images and a hallucinatory feel. Herz has created a masterpiece that still remains undiscovered to many. Also the film was pretty groundbreaking for its time with its sexual content and macabre violence. So watch "The Cremator"; it's worth tracking down a copy.
"Un Chien Andalou" is amazing. A fifteen minute dream that's both breathtaking and eerie. This was the first film collaboration between Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. They both wanted to take their dreams and put it into a film. I must say they succeeded. The film is most notorious for the beginning sequence of the razor across the eye. The film was definitely ahead of its time. Even today, more than 75 years later, the image is still disturbing. A cow eye was used for the effect. The film also has a severed hand, ants that crawl from a wound and a man's Frudian like sexual obsession with a woman. If you are interested in surrealism or surreal films, this would be a perfect place to start.
Did I watch this film or did I dream it. This may be your initial response after watching "the Hourglass Sanatorium". Those who are fans of Fellini, Jodorowsky, Peter Greenaway and Andrej Zulawski will feel right at home. Originally the film was based on a novel, and the story deals with a man who takes a train to see his sick father at a sanatorium. The sanatorium feels Gothic and abandoned. Time seems to be non existent there. Since time has slowed down the father goes on living and the son gets lost in the many rooms of the sanatorium. His journey is as comical as it is frightening. Memories and history become reality and the main character walks throughout many strange scenarios from the past and from his childhood. A simple action like crawling under a bed, can transfer him to a different time and place. Among the strange images in the film which are the most breathtaking are, the Jewish Rabbis breaking out into a song number, people who are part human and part wax figures, dead zombie like soldiers, people in strange bird masks, elephants, and odd philosophical discussions. This is one movie that is so complex and confusing that if you miss 1 minute (or even if you don't miss anything) you'll feel lost. After the film was over, I was left scratching my head; it was like I had just woken up from a bizarre dream. This is one of the most breathtakingly surreal film experiences I have ever had. Film is a visual art, so words can't come close to describing "the Hourglass Sanitorium". You have to see it for yourself!
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