Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jonathan Glazer's new film "Under the Skin" at Landmark Theatres: April 4 - May 1

Opens the first week of April at Landmark's Harvard Exit and at Sundance Cinema later in the month! A world away from anything Jonathan Glazer has ever realized on the screen, "Under the Skin" an adaptation of Michel Faber's novel of the same name is many things; a reflection on consciousness, a tension-filled tonal piece, a psychedelic road trip movie, a study on what it is to be human, an observation of the beauty of the natural world, and a exercise in terror and genuine 'otherness'. And that's not touching on it's central premise. Which you should do whatever you can to NOT read more on the film. Going in not knowing the crux of the protagonist's origin is one of the factors that will make it's viewing a significantly more effective, discomfiting and charged experience. This being a difficult thing to do in the internet age. Made that much more difficult by it's North American premier being almost seven months ago now at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. My own 'blind' first viewing made for a disturbing, putting-together-of-the-pieces in the tradition of the best of thrillers of decades past. Thankfully, the trailer doesn't reveal these central themes, yet (tactfully) and effectively conveys a sense of it's ominous, psychedelic, predatory tone. Only be read after viewing, Jonathan Romney's double-hitter of both a Short Takes: Under the Skin and Film of the Week for Film Comment give you a sense of it's distinction and significance. Romney stating; "Glazer’s third feature fuses a cryptic stranger-in-a-strange-land narrative, guerrilla shooting approach, and a tightly contained audiovisual scheme that makes for a claustrophobically seamless and unnerving drama of self-awakening. This frightening, unearthly film is the most striking achievement yet by a director whose first two features "Sexy Beast" and "Birth" were not quite fully realized, but suggested a will to unearth the strangeness within familiar genre forms. "Under the Skin" is not only genuinely experimental but feels authentically alien—almost something that a documentarist from another world might have shot here on a field mission." Which also earned it (again) Film of the Week status in Sight & Sound along with a feature on the powerful synergy of the film's image and sound, the latter supplied by British composer Mica Levi. Doing my best to not dissipate the experience of the film's disorientation and charged surprise, another to read after viewing would be Nicolas Rapold's invocation of some of the cinematic traditions inaugurated by Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Roeg and Andrei Tarkovsky as they relate to Glazer's "Lovely, Lethal and Out of This World" vision, which Stephen Holden calls, "A Much Darker Hitchhiker’s Guide" for the New York Times.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Alejandro "Jodorowsky's Dune" and new film "The Dance of Reality" at Sundance Cinema: April 25 - May 1 & SIFF Cinema: May 2 - 14 | The Grand Illusion Cinema: Jun 20 - 26

After decades of absence from cinema, the Chilean alchemist of the wondrous and absurd returns! This of course is Alejandro Jodorowsky, creator, author and actor in such underground classics of Magickal, allegorical, psychedelic cinema in the 70's and 80's as "El Topo", "The Holy Mountain" and "Santa Sangre". As well as author of the groundbreaking, cosmic, comedic, operatic grandiosity that are his comic book collaborations with Jean Giraud aka Mœbius, most notably that of "The Incal". Just last week the New York Times Sunday magazine heralded Jodorowsky's return with a lengthy feature and interview, "The Psychomagical Realism of Alejandro Jodorowsky". After having seemingly disappeared from the world of filmmaking -- his "King Shot" of some years ago was abandoned due to difficulty securing funding -- this past year Cannes hosted the double-hitter of both a narrative and documentary from his particular Psychomagical Universe Jodorowsky's newest, “The Dance of Reality” premiered to enthused reviews in both the Guardian, "La Danza de la Realidad is a Triumphant Return: Mixing Autobiography, Politics, Torture and Fantasy to Exuberant, Moving Effect" and The Los Angeles Times', "Chile's Onetime Cult King Still the Wizard of Weird: At 84 He Still has More Movies to Make". From A.O. Scott's New York Times review, in which me calls the film "something very close to a masterpiece", it appears the director has lost none of his touch for transgressive lyricism, his return to cinema watching like a deeply personal and surreal "Family Memoir in a Dreamscape: ‘The Dance of Reality,’ Jodorowsky’s Comeback Film".

Almost a year later, it finally had it's North American premier at SXSW this month and is to be screened in the Summer calendar at Seattle's Grand Illusion Cinema the week of June 20 - 26th. Closer on the horizon, opening April 25th at Seattle's Sundance Cinema with a run at SIFF Cinema the week after, the documentary on one of the great unmade films of the sci-fi golden age of the late-70's/80's; "Jodorowsky's Dune". This being another preposterously audacious project involving everyone from effects by Dan O'Bannon and Douglas Trumbull, to Mœbius and H.R. Giger in it's production designs, to a cast consisting of Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dalí and Gloria Swanson, to a soundtrack supplied by Pink Floyd, Magma and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Even in pre-production the film ran significantly over budget, Frank Herbert recalling that Jodorowsky's script would result in a 14-hour movie, stating that "It was the size of a phonebook". It's producer and financier, Arthur P. Jacobs died before the film could be completed, the rights were then sold to Dino DeLaurentiis for what would become David Lynch's own taking of liberties with the source material (significantly less than we would have seen from Alejandro!) in his peculiar, divisive, proto-Steampunk adaptation of the book. The reviews for this documentary assemblage of accounts and materials from the production have called it "A Wildly Entertaining Look At The Most Ambitious Film Never Made" in the pages of Salon, “Jodorowsky’s Dune”: The Sci-Fi Classic that Never Was" and Twitch Film's established enthusiasm for all things Alejandro is given abundant space in the two-part, "Jodorowsky's Dune Delightfully Journeys Into The Brilliance That Might Have Been".