Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:
The theme chosen for this month is: Shadows of the Disappeared.
Kudos to our very talented Producers for putting together three more powerful films for us to screen & discuss. The Tacoma Film Club is excited about capping this latest tremendous trilogy with the classic art film, EL TOPO (1970).
The film was directed, written, starring, & has a musical score by Alejandro Jodorowsky. It was submitted to the Academy as the Mexican entry for Best Foreign Language film, but was rejected for being too outrageous. If John Lennon had not liked it, & had his manager marketed it as a Midnight Cult film, it might never have found much of an audience. It played for almost a year as a Midnight showing in the Chelsea district of NYC.
We looked at Alejandro Jodorowsky previously for the documentary on his attempt at filming DUNE, & a middle of the road film, RAINBOW THIEF (1990)with Peter O’Toole & Omar Sharif. He was born in Chile. He has always had a reputation for being both a genius & a slave driver. Most mainstream producers shy away from him.
Jodorowsky has only directed 10 films since 1957, including HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973), TUSK (1981), SANTA SANGREE (1989), & THE DANCE OF REALITY (2013).
Jodorowsky said, “Most directors make films with their eyes; I do it using mostly my balls.”
In EL TOPO, you will encounter bizarre characters & occurrences, the extensive use of nudity, graphic violence, dwarfs & maimed performers, surrealism, & a heavy mix of Christian symbolism & Eastern philosophy.
In is a macabre & very eccentric way, the main character is seeking enlightenment; like most of the several year run of popular Spaghetti Westerns, the film is a tribute to, a remake of, classic bushido Japanese & Asian samurai films.
Jodorowsky, it is said & written, had real plans for a sequel to EL TOPO. In 1996, a teaser poster appeared with the title, THE SONS OF EL TOPO; then later the title changed to EL TORO. Of course, typically for Jodorowsky, the funding was never secured–shades of Orson Welles’ career.
The cinematography was done by the veteran Mexican lenser, Rafael Corkidi, who had lensed 46 films since 1949; most of them Mexican films never released in America. He did work with Jodorowsky several times; other films included HOUSE OF MADNESS (1973), PEREGRIND (1974), & DESOS (1977).
EL TOPO (1970)
Written & Directed (also starring & musical score) by Alejandro Jodorowsky @ 125 minutes.
The film stars Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Jose Legarreta, Afonso Arau, & David Silva.
Synopsis: El Topo, who claims to be God, travels across Western badlands, his naked six year old son with him, through a mystical, violent landscape, both bloody & surreal, sexual & deeply introspective, busily chasing his own demons.
Tagline: The definitive Cult Spaghetti Western.
Rotten Tomatoes rated it at 79% Critic’s Approval & 85% Audience Approval.
John Holerman of the VILLAGE VOICE wrote: “You my find it to be a tiresome macho, surrealistic gem, or a raging circus, complete with freaks, wandering through a realm that is part TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, and part Tolkien’s Middle Earth.”
Ty Baro of the BOSTON GLOBE wrote: “this is a gut-bucket Luis Bunuel, surrealism on the cheap, & it hasn’t dated well.”
Jay Cox of TIME magazine wrote: “This film is by turns comic & profound, hysterical & pompous, fully complex enough to deserve more than a glance.”
Phil Hardy wrote: “This is a Fellini-like Western, in which the protagonist is part ringmaster & charlatan, that is rife with breath-taking, albeit ludicrous images.”
So mark your calendars for this Friday, April 8, 2016, & join the TFC for a special screening of the outrageous cult film EL TOPO. It will be screened at the Center for Spiritual Living (CSL), the church building we rent for our events, located at 206 N. J. Street in Tacoma.
Come early, like 6:30 pm, & join many of us downstairs for fun, fellowship & snacks; including wine & beer–brought to share with others. Our Club Director, Diane Jensen, will be on hand with fancy membership cards available for $20.00 for annual fees. This year’s card is the Elizabeth Taylor edition.
There is a donation box near the entrance to the sanctuary; all funds to be used for helping to pay for the rent of the space & TFC expenses. EL TOPO screens at 7:20 pm & runs 125 minutes, so the curtain is down by 9:45 pm. See you at the movies!