Sunday, August 2, 2009


Normally, I hesitate when people ask me what favorite anything is. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I don’t walk around with lists of things in any kind of order that kick in when some numbskull asks me a dumb question. I know it frustrates unimaginative interviewers, but it’s just the way I am.

There is one exception. Go ahead, ask me who my favorite filmmaker is. I dare you!

Okay, since you’re being so bitchy about it, my favorite filmmaker is Alejandro Jordorowsky!

If you’re familiar with my work, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. There’s a certain preference for surrealistic imagery, and iconoclastic themes, boldly presented with a vicious sense of humor. If you could look into my mind it would look a lot like a Jodorowsky film.

It probably has to do with the fact that we’re both cultural mongrels intruding on Western and Latin American civilizations. That and when I first encountered Salvador Dalí and other surrealists at a tender pre-adolescent age, my reaction was, "Been there, done that. I understand this stuff."

When it comes to applying a surrealist sensibility to film, Jodorowsky is the master.

Buñuel was the great innovator. Fellini defined the form. But both these guy often suffered from European "artistic" attitude that makes their films more academic exercises than ecstatic entertainment. David Lynch and other newbies tend to suffer from the same flaw. None of them can hang surrealistic imagery on a framework that makes it seem to have a story, even when the story is being deconstructed before your very eyes.

That’s what happens in The Holy Mountain, the delirious countercultural romp that seems to search for enlightenment, but mostly sends you soaring on a wild trip that lands you back in the real world. Okay, so the real world doesn’t look the same afterward, did you really want it to? For me, this movie does what I ask of art – and it’s like wandering around Mexico City and the Yucatán, "light-headed and little out of touch with reality" as the Firesign Theater once so aptly put it.

El Topo deserves to be one of the great classics of all time for the "too much perfection is a mistake" scene alone. Forget about Star Wars, this is the greatest Hero’s Journey of all time! The Wild West fucks and fights the Mystic East as Hollywood clichés disintegrate across a Mexican landscape where myths and dreams are alive and kicking.

Fando y Lis is a peculiar apocalyptic vision. The two innocent title characters are doomed from the start, but the dying world they pass through is so richly detailed and alive that it overshadows their tragedy. Something dies, something else is being born. This is what Un Chien Andalou becomes when it grows up.

Don’t take my word for it. See these movies and set your mind free. The world will be a better place. Or at least a more interesting one.

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