Take a Drink: for the fucking clowns
Take a Drink: whenever Jodorowsky himself (whitebeard) shows up
Take a Drink: “Maricon!”
Take a Drink: for fucking opera singing and bizarre musical numbers
Take a Drink: for pseudo-religious bloviating
Take a Drink: for blank people masks
Do a Shot: for dicks
Do a Shot: whenever Freud would have a field day with a scene
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
My first experience with Alejandro Jodorowsky was watching his 70s cult film classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain, both visually stunning psychological clusterfucks that certainly kept your attention, even if they felt too intensely introspective to make a lick of sense to anybody but Jodorowsky. He re-entered the public consciousness this year with the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, an ode to his failed, but incredibly imaginative adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune that went on to influence practically every major sci-fi classic that followed it.
You can personally thank him for a lifetime of nightmares.
Also debuting this year, in part due to Jodorowsky and longtime producer Michel Seydoux being reunited by that documentary, is Jodorowsky’s first film in 23 years, The Dance of Reality. It’s (very) loosely based on his childhood in Chile with his stern father (played by his own son, Brontis), who decides to assassinate the dictator of Chile and loses touch with his family for touch before finally making his amends.
Jodorowsky films are always chock full of ideas, and in The Dance of Reality, as always, the visual ones are the most compelling. Nobody can produce absurd, strikingly color-coded imagery quite like this old master, and he manages quite a bit of it during this film’s runtime.
Just slap that up on your wall.
Jodorowsky’s Dune also showcased his wonderful sense of humor- like the cheeky, profane story-filled Grandpa I never had, and that shines through here in this film’s best moments. Also, while it really struggles to find its feet at first, during the home stretch The Dance of Reality finally starts to engage with its audience through Brontis’s strange, sad odyssey, building up to a surprisingly affecting finale.
The problem is, it takes too damn long to get to that point. The first half of the film feels like Jodorowsky throwing out every pseudo-philosophical tic and outrageous idea he’s been building up for the last couple of decades, a cacophonous, unfocused, and often cheaply provocative (a group of amputees gets kicked around, the mother’s full-frontal unsimulated pissing on the father’s chest) slog that often feels like just an echo of his more engagingly bizarre and challenging early-career work.
Nice try, Nicole Kidman.
The humor is also often of the least common denominator, cringe-inducing variety. Besides playing homosexuality, dwarfism, and transvestism for laughs occasionally, plus scenes like the amputees where it’s unclear whether he’s trying for comedy, you have just blatantly stupid jokes like the buxom mother singing all of her own dialogue opera-style, even during sex. Pro-tip: if it’s a trashy or stupid joke when Adam Sandler does it, it’s still trashy and stupid when an arthouse director does.
While Jodorowsky certainly manages some eye-catching images, much of the digital photography is surprisingly ugly. Worse are the Sharknado-level CGI and green-screening.
The Dance of Reality is a bizarre, scattershot, sometimes exasperating, and often visually stunning work of nostalgic reflection from a filmmaker we haven’t heard from for far too long.
Last Call: Stick around for one more scene of sales dwarves and faceless peons.