TIFF Review: Jodorowsky’s Dune

Dune

One of, if not the, most famous films never made was Dune. Sure, we got the mid-eighties David Lynch version – admittedly that is a significant guilty pleasure of mine – and some terrible TV miniseries in the early 2000s, but every science fiction cinephile worth their salt has drooled over the folklore behind Chilean writer-director-mime-surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version which would have starred Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, Udo Kier and Salvador Dali and scored by Pink Floyd. The implosion of the project in the mid 1970s and the scattering of the creative and technical team resulted in Ridley Scott’s Alien, but also, according to the storyboard matches inside the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, inspired imagery from Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon, Contact and a host of other classic blockbuster science fiction epics. It was something like all the musicians that were at that one Sex Pistols show went on to create almost the entire Punk movement.

This documentary may be a talking heads and animated cut-away straightforward but when you have the burning energy of Jodorowsky as the main subject, even at 84 years young, there is more energy and passion (and more than a bit of crazy) to burn. His vision of the coming of a cinema version of Frank Herbert’s culty science fiction novel was as the coming of a cinematic God. It was to be something sacred, with more than a touch of madness. That he had never actually read the book, well that wasn’t going to stop him. He assembled his creative team, his ‘spiritual warriors’ in Paris from all over the world, young special effects and writer Dan O’Bannon (Dark Star, Alien), graphic artists Moebius, H.R. Giger and Chris Foss and preached to them, almost like a cult priest or guru, for months in designing the storyboards and production design element. None of the creative team had read the Frank Herbert novel either, trusting to Jodorowsky’s unrelenting passion for his own ideas and vision. To say there was hubris and grandiosity going into the project is an understatement, but this is the writer director of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, the former film birthed the idea of a “Midnight Movie,” a practice which still continues (to a degree) today, and the latter, perhaps the strangest movie ever made. Trying to raise money from Disney, Paramount and the Other studios proved fruitless, as nearly everyone speculates, it was too visionary (and its runtime likely too epic) for the Hollywood Studio system, and too expensive to make anywhere else.

Thus, the project lives on as a dream. The perfect dream that exists in the minds of a few, because it was never relalized, has become idealized. Something that was to be made by spiritual warriors to mutate young minds has, after 40 years, passed into kind of a legend, almost myth, and it is now collected here as kind of a bible insofar as the storyboards and concept art collection that resulted and how it is further (and handsomely) eulogized by way of this documentary.

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Review: SOUL KITCHEN

This is one of the most crowded release weekends of the year, and the wide releases are splitting demographics wildly – Scott Pilgrim for the hipster nerds and gamers, The Expendables for manly testosterone, and Eat Pray Love for the Harlequin/Estrogen set. But opening on a lone screen in Toronto is a light comedy that should have appeal to nearly all demographics. It’s a broad German slapstick food comedy and it is excellent. Opening to funkadelic beats and high gloss cinematography, Soul Kitchen may confuse fans of German/Turkish director Fatih Akin, who is perhaps best known for the energetic and raw drama Head On (Gegen die Wand).

Piling on pratfalls, meet-cutes, wacky neighbors, montage sequences and an abundance of ‘Fox Searchlight’-isms (think of the plots and tone of films from that company: The Full Monty, Saving Grace, Juno) and the old stand by of good food equating to good sex, Akin does not reinvent the wheel, but he does deliver one of the better comedies stuffed to bursting with living-in-the-margins characters. When all of the elements come together this well, it is hard not to surrender to the pleasure of a simple yet well-made dish (Ratatouille if you will).

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Guy Maddin’s KEYHOLE

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Way back in 2008, Guy Maddin offered a prelude peak in collaboration with collage artists at his new feature film, Keyhole. Apropos, considering the directors peculiar (and magnificent) style of filmmaking. Well, more details (thanks Marina and Monika!) have surfaced as the production heats up in Winnipeg, the key revelation is his wonderful cast: Jason Patric, Udo Kier, Kevin McDonald and Isabella Rossellini.

It is about bloody time that Udo Kier and Guy Maddin worked together. Yummy!

A gangster (Jason Patric) returns home after a long absence toting a drowned girl, who has mysteriously returned to life, and a bound-and-gagged hostage, who is actually his own teenage son. His odyssey is through his own house one room at a time until he arrives in the boudoir of his wife (Isabella Rossellini.)

All the details can be found here, at the Winnipeg Free Press.

Cinecast Episode 137 – Wall to Wall Pubic Hair

Episode 137:
Jumping in to give us the female perspective about the latest batch of horror films is short film maker and writer for Killer Film, Miss Serena Whitney. We also get a TIFF-preview with Lars Von Trier’s latest, Antichrist. Strange things are afoot at The Bloor Cinema in Toronto when Udo Kier comes to town. Plus a bitch session about 3D technology, short reviews of Paul Giamatti in Cold Souls and Emille Hirsch in Taking Woodstock.

Thanks for listening!

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To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://www.rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_09/episode_137.mp3

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Strange But True: Jodorowsky & Manson Together

Alejandro JodorowskyAlejandro Jodorowsky isn’t a filmmaker I know all that well (though his name has popped up around these parts in the past) but when a movie includes Asia Argento, Udo Kier, Nick Nolte and Marilyn Manson in the cast, how is a girl not supposed to get excited? Forget the fact that I was once a Manson fangirl (I nearly got killed at an autograph signing) and just look at the man. Seriously, what is Manson doing, or better yet, going to do in a western?

At the moment there’s isn’t much on King Shot aside from the fact that it’s a “metaphysical spaghetti western.” Frankly, that’s too wordy and headache inducing to fully decipher at this late hour. What is clear is that the international production (Italian money, shooting in Spain, Chilean director) will start filming in October.

If the cast or the fact that this is Jodorowsky’s return to film (he hasn’t directed in 20 years) doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the fact that Oscar winning cinematographer (for Close Encounters of the Third Kind though he’s been nominated a number of other times) has also signed on to shoot the film.

I’m not sure what to make of it all but yes, I am curious.

Iron Sky gets a Motion Poster

Now here is the first ‘motion poster’ I can get behind. Yes it is still a glorified banner ad (or perhaps a teaser with a strange aspect ratio), but this time with sound, majesty and promise on a fun and retro concept: Invasion of the moon Nazis. This is from the same fellows who did the Star Trek parody Marina posted last week, Star Wreck.

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Because I simply do not know how to embed these things, just click here for Moon Nazis.

The Movie Club Podcast Episode #12: My Own Private Idaho & 10 Things I Hate About You

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It has been more than the usual span of time, but several of the regulars managed to get together and record the latest edition of Movie Club Podcast last week. Episode #12 has a smaller, more intimate 4 person panel including Sean from Filmjunk, along with Andrew, Marina and Kurt from Row Three. We talked about two loose adaptations of Shakespeare from the 1990s, both of which featured potentially house-hold name actors that went on to drug overdoes in their youth. 10 Things I Hate About You and Gus Van Sant‘s My Own Private Idaho provoked somewhat similar reactions, yet we turn over the details of those opinions and facts in a variety of ways.

(Note comments are closed on this post, please post comments and discussion over at The Movie Club Podcast website). And vote for episode #14 using the side poll.

And warm up your Xenomorph and break out your DVD box sets, for in April with episode #13 we are tackling the entire ALIEN QUADRILOGY. Different versions, director’s cuts, and all.

Movie Club Podcast