Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Despite not having attained some form of mainstream success, Alejandro Jodorowsky is someone that doesn’t need mainstream success or attention as he has become a cherished cult figure in the world of art, literature, and cinema. Making films that never play by the rules while bringing in elements of mysticism and philosophy into his work that made him stand out from others who also dabbled in surrealism. Even though his films were considered too strange for mainstream audiences, those willing to seek out his work would often find something that was unique as some believed they were also challenging. It’s something Jodorowsky is known for not just as an artist but also as a man.

Born on February 17, 1929 in the coastal town of Tocopilla, Chile, Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky was the son of Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants living in the town where his father Jaime Jodorowsky Groismann was a merchant and his mother Sara Felicidad Prullansky Arcavi worked at the shop as he would endure a very unhappy childhood filled with abuse and lack of love as he also had an older sister who also treated him badly. In Tocopilla, Jodorowsky also endured a sense of loneliness as he was disliked by the locals because of Jewish-Ukrainian background while he also had a disdain towards the American mining industry who he felt treated the Chileans unfairly. At the age of 9, he and his family moved to Santiago where it was through books where Jodorowsky found an escape from his tumultuous family life.

Growing into his teens where he was interested in poetry and literature, Jodorowsky also discovered the ideas of anarchism as it was something he gravitated to as it relates to his disdain of American imperialism and the ideas of his family. After a two-year period in college studying philosophy and psychology, Jodorowsky became interested in the world of theatre and mime as he left to join the circus where he briefly worked as a clown. At the age of 18 in 1947, Jodorowsky formed a theatre troupe where he wrote his first play as he had some minimal success in Chile. Yet, he realized there was nothing for him in his home country where he moved to Paris in 1952 to study mime from Etienne Decroux as he became part of her troupe. After a few years working as a mime with the famed Marcel Marceau, Jodorowsky returned to theatres where he began to stage numerous plays as he was starting to become interested in the world of film.

La Cravate/Teatro sin fin

In 1957, Jodorowsky decided to take a hand in filmmaking as he decided to adapt Thomas Mann’s novella The Severed Heads into a short film. Despite his inexperience in the world of film, Jodorowsky decided that the story would be told in pantomime as much of the story would be told just through performance and music. The twenty-minute short would have Jodorowsky in the lead role as he used whatever resources he had as well as friends he made in Paris to help him with the film as he would unveil it in 1957. Jean Cocteau would be among those who saw the short and praised it where he would later write an introduction for the short. Then some years after its release, the short was then believed to be lost until it was rediscovered in 2006. In 1960, Jodorowsky moved to Mexico City to settle while often returning to France where he would spend some time with the surreal artist Andre Breton as it would be an unsatisfying meeting for Jodorowsky.

His time with Breton would force Jodorowsky to create a movement with the Spanish writer Fernando Arrabal and the French artist Roland Topor that would put the ideas of surrealism away from the mainstream and embrace absurdity into its approach. The Panic Movement was considered groundbreaking where the men revealed a lot of what they were doing as Jodorowsky eventually filmed these presentations for a documentary short in 1965. The short revealed the movement’s take on surrealism and their refusal to take it seriously as it was seen by various surrealist groups as it was considered a major feat that brought surrealism back into the underground. The movement would also give Jodorowsky the chance to work on other things such as books, plays, and comic strips all playing into his desire to play into the world of surrealism.

Fando y Lis

Through his friendship with Fernando Arrabal, the two decided to write a film version of Arrabal’s play about two lovers traveling through a barren wasteland in a post-apocalyptic world in order to find a legendary land that can bring them hope. The two would create a loose version of the script as Jodorowsky wanted to infuse more elements of surrealism as well as critique some of the aspects of faith which was considered quite daring in a country such as Mexico. Despite Jodorowksy’s inexperience with filmmaking, he and Arrabal were able to get funding as well as call on friends such as Sergio Klainer and Diana Mariscal to play the lead roles with others including his then-wife Valerie playing small parts.

The shooting was largely set in the Mexican deserts as well as in rural places where Jodorowsky shot the film on weekends for several months with the aid of cinematographers Rafael Corkidi and Antonio Reynoso with the former playing one of the protagonist’s father. Jodorowsky wanted to play up that air of realism and surrealism into the story as well as have Mariscal do much of the film without walking as her character is partially-paralyzed. Having been aware that surrealism had become more bourgeois in recent years, Jodorowsky would maintain that absurdity into the film as he would put odd things such as mud people, old ladies playing cards and feeding a young man peaches, drag queens, and other strange things to really push the boundaries of what can be seen in film.

The film made its premiere at the 1968 Acapulco Film Festival where the screening was notorious for what was shown as it led to a riot which was becoming very common during one of the tumultuous years in Mexico. The film was later banned from the country for several years yet the film was seen at other festivals where the famed Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski praised the film and defended its contents. The film would also play in film festivals in the U.S. in 1970 as it received good reviews but was unfavorably compared to the American release of Federico Fellini’s Satyricon.

El Topo

Shortly before the completion of Fando y Lis, Jodorowsky met Ejo Takata who was a Zen Buddhist monk where Jodorowky would have a spiritual awakening during his meetings with Takata. It was around that time Jodorowsky met the renowned surrealist Leonara Carrington as these meetings would give Jodorowsky ideas for his second film as it would be about a Mexican bandit who travels to the desert to find spiritual enlightenment in a desolate world. Aware of the popularity of the western at the time, Jodorowsky wanted to create a more surreal take on the genre as he would star in the film as the titular character as well as do the score, create the sets and costumes for the film while having his own son Brontis play the titular character’s son.

With the aid of Rafael Corkidi in the cinematography, Jodorowsky would shoot the film in the deserts of Mexico though has no plans to have the film be shown there as he was considered persona non grata. The film would play with the conventions of the genre while displaying many things that were considered very strange to play into the development of the titular character’s violent journey for enlightenment. In the film’s first half, the character would see himself as a god but then would be brought back down to earth for its second half where it becomes a story of redemption and resurrection. All of it playing into Jodorowsky’s own spiritual experiences during his time in the Panic Movement as well as taking part of the drugs of the counterculture which was common during the time.

Despite being submitted as Mexico’s nominee for the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards, the film wasn’t nominated nor, true to Jodorowsky’s word, did it play in Mexico following its 1970 premiere in various film festivals. Despite not getting any kind of distribution, the film was played at a private screening at the Museum of Modern Arts in New York City in late 1970 where Ben Barenholtz was at the screening and had it played in his movie theatre the Elgin in December of 1970 for a one-week run as a midnight screening. The result would be a major event as the film gained a cult following where the film played at the Elgin theatre for six months making lots of money and paving the way for the midnight movie phenomenon. After it had been seen by many including John Lennon and Yoko Ono who would befriend Jodorowsky, the two introduced Jodorowsky to Lennon’s then-manager Allen Klein who would buy the rights of the film and give it a proper release which didn’t do well financially in comparison to its run as a midnight movie.

The Holy Mountain

The cult success of El Topo was a big deal for Jodorowsky as even though it wasn’t played like a lot of films at the time. It was still considered a success as Jodorowsky was grateful for John Lennon’s endorsement that led to a meeting with Allen Klein who would give Jodorowsky a million dollars for his next film that included additional support from Lennon, George Harrison, and Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono. Inspired by the books Ascent of Mount Carmel by John of the Cross and Mount Analogue by Rene Daumal, the film would be about a group of people who join this strange man for a spiritual journey inside a strange mountain. With Jodorowsky playing the role of the alchemist as well as design the sets and costumes, co-edit, and do some of the music score, the film would feature a cast of unknowns for the film.

Once again teaming with up with cinematographer Rafael Corkidi for the production which was shot in Mexico, Jodorowsky wanted to get his cast and crew on a spiritual retreat before principal photography began as they would study many different ideas of spirituality while Jodorowsky was instructed by Arica School co-founder Oscar Ichazo to take LSD during the production. There was a sense of the unknown during the shoot yet Jodorowsky maintained a sense of control to create something that was indeed out there. Even as Jodorowsky wanted to break all kinds of rules for the film as he also obtained the services of classical musician Ronald Frangipane and jazz musician Don Cherry for the score.

The film made its premiere at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival that May where it was well-received as it led to a limited theatrical release in the U.S. in November of 1973. Though its initial theatrical run wasn’t successful, it was until the film was billed with El Topo as part of a midnight double-feature screening where the film was successful. The success was short-lived as Jodorowsky had a falling out with Allen Klein over Jodorowsky’s refusal to helm an adaptation of Pauline Reage’s Story of O. due to Jodorowsky’s support on feminism. Klein, who was known for being quite brutal with his business tactics, retaliated by having all of Jodorowsky’s feature films at that point be withheld and not shown to the public for nearly 30 years as it would become a source of bitterness for Jodorowsky.

Attempted Production of Dune

Following the falling out with Allen Klein while attaining some measure of success through the world of underground cinema. Jodorowsky did at least gain some clout to get various film producers and others in the industry in wanting to work with him. Having heard about Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel about a conflict between families over a mysterious melange which is the most precious commodity of the universe. Jodorowsky was interested in making Herbert’s story into a film as he heard that a French consortium led by Jean-Paul Gibon who had the rights to make it into a film. Jodorowsky met with French film producer Michel Seydoux, who had seen and liked Jodorowsky’s films, as the two decided to create a feature film version of Herbert’s novel. Though Jodorowsky hadn’t read Herbert’s novel, he was still interested in making into a feature film that would be like a spiritual experience similar to what hippies did with psychedelics but without the drugs.

The project was to feature visual effects work and designs by different artists such as Jean “Mobeius” Girard, Chris Foss, H.R. Giger, and Dan O’Bannon while the casting was to include Jodorowsky’s son Brontis as the lead role of Paul Atrides. The casting was to be even more extravagant as it would include the famed surrealist Salvador Dali, model Amanda Lear, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, and Orson Welles where Jodorowsky made them offers that were considered ridiculous. The ideas that Jodorowsky had were even crazier as he talked to the British rock band Pink Floyd and the French art-rock band Magma to do the music. By early 1976, $2 million of the production’s $9.5 million budget had been spent for its pre-production as Frank Herbert read Jodorowsky’s script which Herbert described as nearly the size of a phonebook for a film that was to be 14-hours long. While Jodorowsky admitted to taking some liberties with Herbert’s novel, Herbert did at least like what Jodorowsky was doing.

Just as a lot of things were about to come into play, the project was then halted as major studios in Hollywood who were interested initially on the film only to realize the grand scale of what Jodorowsky wanted. With Jodorowsky and Seydoux wanting more money to get their ideas going, the project eventually folded in the late 1976 marking an end what some believed to be the masterpiece Jodorowsky never made. In 2013, a documentary about the aborted production was released with new interviews from Jodorowsky, Seydoux, and Chris Foss as well as filmmakers Richard Stanley and Nicolas Winding Refn was released to great acclaim. The film showcased what could’ve been as Jodorowsky admitted to be heartbroken by the projects collapse as the rights was eventually purchased by Italian film producer Dino de Laurentiis who would eventually make the film that was directed by David Lynch for a 1984 release that received negative reviews as well as being a commercial disappointment.


Ravaged by the collapse of Dune, Jodorowsky was desperate for work as he was approached by the French production Gaumont to create a film version of Reginald Campbell’s children’s novel Poo Lorn L’Elephant. Jodorowsky said yes as it would be a very different project from previous films though the story about the spiritual connection between a young woman and an Indian elephant who were both born on the same day did play into Jodorowsky’s fascination with spirituality. Having teamed with Jeffrey O’Kelly and Nicholas Niciphor to help write a draft with Niciphor eventually writing the final script, the film was finally going to be made with a $1.5 million budget as Jodorowsky would work with an entirely French crew and cast as well as actors in India where the film was set. Despite not having to work with some of his previous collaborators, Jodorowsky would finally begin production in 1979.

The production would be troubling as Jodorowsky found himself fighting with producers and executives at Gaumont over the film’s visuals which would display little of Jodorowsky’s visual trademarks. Jodorowsky also struggled with the material as many of his past films were very sympathetic to characters who didn’t play by the rules of conventional society nor were part of it as he found himself unhappy with making a film where the characters were nearly normal. The shooting was unpleasant but it was in post-production where things became tense where Jodorowsky wanted to make the film shorter but the people at Gaumont won as the film would have a running time of nearly two hours.

The film was released in 1980 as it was not well-received nor did it get a wide release as the film would later be lost for many years except through poor-quality bootlegs as it is considered a rarity to be found on the Internet. Jodorowsky would disown the film as he was unhappy about his experience in making the film while still reeling from the collapse of Dune. Two years after the film’s release, Jodorowsky’s personal life was in dire straits as he divorced his longtime wife Valerie. For much of the 1980s, Jodorowsky would write novels and comics to keep himself financially stable while collaborating with artist Mobeius for the cult graphic novel The Incal.

Santa Sangre

After taking some time to recover from the unhappy experience of making Tusk and devoting himself to his work in comics as well as raise his children that included sons Brontis, Cristobal, Teo, and Adan as well as daughter Eugenia. It was around this time for much of the 1980s as Jodorowsky began to write a new film project that would be a slasher of film sorts that revolved around a young man, who would see his mother lose her arms following a fight with her adulterous husband, who becomes a serial killer targeting those who are threat to his mother under the command of his own mother. The idea itself was intriguing but given that Jodorowsky didn’t have much clout following the failure to get his version of Dune off the ground. Yet, Jodorowsky still had friends in the industry that included the Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento who would give Jodorowsky’s script to his brother Claudio. Claudio Argento decided to produce the film as well as help polish the script with another Italian filmmaker in Roberto Leoni.

With Argento getting the money needed for the film, Jodorowsky decided to have the film be shot in and around Mexico City while sons Adan and Cristobal would play the lead role of Fenix with Adan as the young version of Fenix and Cristobal as the older version. With small roles given to Teo and Brontis as well as roles from Blanca Guerra and Guy Stockwell as Fenix’s parents, shooting began in mid-1988 with Jodorowsky getting Italian cinematographer Daniele Nannuzzi to shoot the film. The production didn’t just play into the idea of repressed memories and childhood trauma but also a man trying to cope with his demons as well as the presence of his mother who tries to prevent him from having a normal life. Jodorowsky also wanted to comment on the fallacy of faith as it relates to the strange beliefs of Fenix’s mother as she claims that the saint she worships is real until a Vatican official disproves those claims.

The film made its premiere in May of 1989 at the Cannes Film Festival where it played at the Un Certain Regarde section as it was well-received by audiences and critics. Following a release in Italy in November of that year as well as a very limited U.S. release, the film did initially receive mixed reviews in the U.S. yet received a glowing praise from renowned film critic Roger Ebert who had also enjoyed El Topo and The Holy Mountain. Ebert’s review would help the film achieve not just cult status in the intervening years but also with a new generation of critics who praised the film. While Jodorowsky was grateful toward Ebert’s praise, the film didn’t do well commercially due to its limited release though it did put Jodorowsky back in the spotlight no matter how brief it would be.

The Rainbow Thief

With the buzz he attained for Santa Sangre, Jodorowsky was approached by the famed producer Alexander Salkind about helming a film his wife Berta Dominguez D. wrote about an eccentric heir to a massive fortune who befriends a thief as they live underground in the sewers where they await word for the heir to receive his fortune and the thief to get a nice payday in return. Though the story didn’t appeal Jodorowsky in lieu with the rest of his body of work, Salkind revealed that the film would star Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif as Jodorowsky said yes to the project in a chance to work with the two acting legends. With Salkind funding and controlling the project as it would be shot in Gdansk, Poland, the film would be Jodorowsky’s most commercially-viable project to date.

Once shooting began in 1989, Jodorowsky received word from Salkind and producer Vincent Winter to not change a word of the script and do everything that is asked or he will be fired. Despite having a nice time working with O’Toole and Sharif as well as getting Christopher Lee for a small role, Jodorowsky became unhappy with making the film as he had no input in what to do or say visually. Jodorowsky’s attempt to create humor or anything whimsical would feel forced and uninspired as he would often squabble with Winter over the visuals and to create something unconventional as Jodorowsky often lost the arguments.

The film made its premiere in May of 1990 in London as it disappeared quickly from theaters with an indifferent response from audiences and critics. The film would later premiere in France in 1994 as it remains unreleased in American cinemas. The film was considered a low point for Jodorowsky as he would disown the film as he would also make some serious changes in his life where he moved his family to France in 1990 and devote himself towards making comics, novels, and speaking engagements devoted to his work and interests in the world of tarot cards. In 1995, tragedy struck when Jodorowsky’s son Teo was killed in an accident around the time Jodorowsky was to go to Mexico City for a lecture as well as meet Ejo Takata for the first time in years as it would be the last time they saw each other as Takata died two years later.

Attempted Productions of The Sons of El Topo and King Shot

In 2000 as Jodorowsky had attained a cult profile through comics and films, the director attended the Chicago Underground Film Festival that year where he was given a lifetime achievement award for his body of work. The festival also held screenings for El Topo and The Holy Mountain despite Allen Klein’s refusal to have the films be screened publicly. Nevertheless, the screening would draw great attention as well as the demand for Jodorowsky’s films to be available to the public as a new generation of film goers emerged wanting to see those films. In 2004, Jodorowsky and Klein settled their differences where a DVD box set of Jodorowsky’s first three films including the re-discovered La Cravate were released three years later to great acclaim. It was around this time Jodorowsky was trying to get a couple of projects off the ground as one of them was a sequel to El Topo. Often titled The Sons of El Topo or Abelcain, the film would be a sequel revolving around the two different sons of the titular character.

The project had begun around the mid-1990s with Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Arau, who had been in the film in a small role, trying to help Jodorowsky raise funds as it languished through the 2000s with shock-rocker Marilyn Manson and film star Johnny Depp expressing interests in appearing the film. Another project that Jodorowsky wanted to create was a metaphysical gangster film called King Shot as it was another film Depp and Manson expressed interest in as well as Nick Nolte. David Lynch offered to produce the film as he and Jodorowsky had become friends despite their own experiences with Dune. The film was to be set in a post-apocalyptic world with a casino in the middle of the desert shaped like the head of Jesus Christ while Manson would play a 300-year old pope. By the late 2000s, chances to raise money faltered as both projects eventually fell apart though The Sons of El Topo has often returned into discussion as Jodorowsky still plans to make the film. Nevertheless, Jodorowsky still maintained some interest in the film world where the New York City Museum of Arts and Design held a retrospective of his work in 2010 where Jodorowsky also gave lectures on art.

The Dance of Reality

In 2001, Jodorowsky released an autobiographical novel of sorts that was about his life as a child living in Tocopilla, Chile as it was a chance to make peace with his troubled childhood as well as to humanize his own father whom he admitted to having an unpleasant relationship with. While being interviewed for Frank Pavich’s documentary on the attempted production of Dune, Jodorowsky reunited with producer Michel Seydoux in the film where the two discussed plans to work together again. Jodorowsky had expressed interest in making a film based on his book where he returned to his hometown of Tocopilla where he received permission and some funding to have his film shot there. With Seydoux also raising funds, the plans to make the film about Jodorowsky’s childhood was starting to happen. With Jodorowsky appearing in the film as himself, the role of his father went to his eldest son Brontis while Cristobal and Adan would play small roles as the latter would also provide the film’s score.

Jodorowsky’s wife in artist Pascale Montadon would do the costumes as the rest of the cast would include Pamela Flores as Jodorowsky’s mother and Jeremias Herskovits as the young Alejandro. Jodorowsky got the services of cinematographer Jean-Marie Drejou and editor Maryline Monthieux to be part of his crew as filming began in the summer of 2012. Shooting in his hometown with the support of the locals gave Jodorowsky free rein to do what he wanted as he also recalled some of the visual ideas of Federico Fellini for the film. Yet, Jodorowsky also wanted to touch upon ideas of faith and the struggles he faced as a child as it would prove to be a very therapeutic experience for him. Especially as he was surrounded by his own family who get the chance to be in the home where it all began as the shooting was finished later that fall.

The film was completed in time for its premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival that May where it played as part of a double-bill with Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune in the festival’s Director’s Fortnight section. The film was given a rousing reception from audiences and critics at the screening as it proved to be a major hit at the festival. Less than a month later, Jodorowsky premiered the film at his hometown of Tocopilla where it was also well-received as it made its U.S. premiere in February of 2014 at the South by Southwest Film Festival to great acclaim. While the film only got a limited theatrical release in the U.S. that only made more than half-a-million dollars against its $3 million budget. The film was a major hit with critics as well as art house audiences where the film marked as a major comeback for Jodorowsky.

Endless Poetry

Jodorowsky’s newest feature film is a sequel to The Dance of Reality as it focuses on Jodorowsky’s teenage years and his time as a young adult trying to find himself. Retaining the same cast for the film with Adan playing his own father in his 20s while Jodorowsky also appears in the film as himself. Jodorowsky received the services of the famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who is known for his work with Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, to shoot the film as it was shot in Santiago, Chile and other places in the country while using crowd source funding to get money for the film as he received donations from fans as well as other filmmakers. The film made its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in May of that year once again playing at the Director’s Fortnight section where it was well-received from audiences and critics proving that Jodorowsky still has the magic touch.

Despite not being part of mainstream culture or wanting to be in the often capitalist-world that is Hollywood, Alejandro Jodorowsky does remain to be an important figure in the world of cinema. While many of his greater work maybe considered cult films, that cult has gotten bigger as his films have influenced filmmakers, musicians, and artists as diverse as Nicolas Winding Refn, Luc Besson, Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Marilyn Manson, Peter Gabriel, and Kanye West. In attaining that air of mystique and intrigue that often makes cinematic figures so compelling, Alejandro Jodorowsky remains as cinema’s most mystical auteur.

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Rainbow Thief

Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and written by Berta Dominguez D., The Rainbow Thief is the story of a crook who befriends the heir to a fortune in the hopes he can score the fortune. The film is a whimsical tale of friendship told in a stylistic manner as it relates to desires of the richest kind that money can and can‘t buy. Starring Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, and Christopher Lee. The Rainbow Thief is an interesting but lackluster film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Set in an unnamed European city, the film is about this beggar thief who meets the nephew of an eccentric millionaire as they spend five years living in the sewer awaiting word about the inheritance that this man is to get. It’s a film with a simple plot that explores the idea of survival and expectations of great rewards yet the film’s script by Berta Dominguez D. is very by-the-books in the way it establishes its main characters such as the thief Dima (Omar Sharif), the offbeat heir Meleagre (Peter O’Toole), and the eccentric millionaire Rudolf Van Tannen (Christopher Lee). The last of which is just a plot device where he goes into a five-year coma while relatives bicker over who gets the inheritance while thinking of putting Meleagre into a psychiatric hospital and leave him out of the will. Upon meeting Dima and seek refuge in the sewers, Meleagre decides to live a life without complications yet he treats Dima like a servant. While it’s meant to be a story of friendship, the script often has the two men bickering while Dima goes out and steal to survive while hoping he would get some money from Meleagre’s inheritance.

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s direction is very straightforward which is shocking considering that the filmmaker is known for creating visuals that are confrontational and majestic. With this film, it’s an attempt to maintain some of the whimsical elements he’s known for yet it feels forced and never really does anything to stand out visually. Shot largely on location in Gdansk, Poland where it plays as this European port city, Jodorowsky does take great advantage of the location with its usage of wide and medium shots while he does also create moments in the compositions that are interesting that includes the scenes between Dima and Meleagre. While Jodorowsky tries to maintain some sense of energy and charm into the film, it’s not enough to cover many of the shortcomings of the script as Jodorowsky is just creating something that just feels very ordinary. Overall, Jodorowsky creates a very bland film about a thief and an heir to a fortune trying to await the news of a man’s death for great riches.

Cinematographer Ronnie Taylor does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it‘s quite colorful for some of the scenes involving the circus acts as well as some unique interior lighting in the scenes set in the sewers. Editor Mauro Bonnani does nice work with the editing as it‘s largely straightforward to play into some of the whimsical elements in the film. Production designers Didier Naert and Alexandre Trauner, with set decorators Simon Wakefield and Peter Young and art directors Fred Hole and Janusz Sosnowski, do fantastic work with the look of Rudolf‘s home as well as some of the interiors of the sewers and the places around the docks. Costume designers Barbara Kidd and Ewa Krauze do terrific work with the costumes from the lavish clothes of Meleagre as well as the look of the other hobos and people living around the docks. Sound editors Mireille Leroy and Corrine Rozenberg do superb work with the sound as it plays into the sound of the waters flowing through the sewers as well as the whimsy of the circus world. The film’s music by Jean Musy is wonderful for its orchestral-based score as it play to the world of the circus and the sense of hope and whimsy that looms for its key characters.

The casting by Jeremy Zimmerman is pretty good as it features appearances from punk rock legend Ian Dury as a bartender Dima owes money to, screenwriter Berta Dominguez D. as a beggar named Tiger Lily, Joanna Dickens as a woman Dima uses for money in Ambrosia, and Christopher Lee in a fantastic performance as the eccentric Rudolf Von Tannen as this eccentric millionaire who cares more about his dogs and bevy of whores than his family where it’s an appearance that is just too brief where he eventually becomes a plot device. Finally, there’s the excellent performances of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in their respective roles as Meleagre and Dima. Despite the shortcomings of the script, the two do give committed performances that allow them to have fun with Sharif being the more physical in his approach to play a thief while O’Toole camps up the eccentricities of his character where he is often accompanied by a dead dog.

Despite the performances of Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif as well as some solid technical work, The Rainbow Thief is a very mediocre film from Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s a film that wants to be a lot of things only to fall very short due in part to its lackluster script and Jodorowsky being constrained to create something that is very straightforward which is something that Jodorowsky isn’t known for. In the end, The Rainbow Thief is just an uninspired film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: La Cravate - Teatro sin fin - Fando y Lis - El Topo - The Holy Mountain - Tusk (1980 film) - Santa Sangre - The Dance of Reality - (Endless Poetry)

Related: Jodorowsky's Dune - The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 Blind Spot Series: Come and See

Directed by Elem Klimov and screenplay by Klimov and Ales Adamovich from a story by Adamovich, Come and See is the story of a young boy who witnesses the horror of war in his homeland of Belarus during its occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. The film is a tale of survival from the eyes of a young boy who gets a harsh glimpse into war as well as see some of the ugliness of humanity. Starring Aleksei Kravchenko and Olga Mironova. Come and See is a horrifying and unflinching film from Elem Klimov.

Set in 1943 in the Belarus region of the then-Soviet Union, the film is a simple tale of a young teenage boy who joins the Belorussian army to fight the Germans in World War II where he encounters the darkest forms of reality on war. All of which is told through not just elements of reality but also aspects of surrealism as it’s really a story of innocence loss in the face of war as well as this young boy trying to survive the horror that he encounters. The film’s screenplay by Elem Klimov and Ales Adamovich doesn’t just follow the protagonist Flyora (Aleksei Kravchenko) from this idealist young boy who dreams of glory and importance into a young man who is ravaged by the most dire atrocities encounter in the face of war. The first act follows Flyora leaving his home village thinking he would return to his mother and twin younger sisters as the former doesn’t want him to leave home.

What happens instead is that he doesn’t become part of the gang of soldiers immediately where he has to do menial work like many other beginners while having to stay behind where more experienced soldiers go into battle. While he would befriend a young girl named Glasha (Olga Mironova) at the camp and fall for her. They would both experience the horror of war first-hand where Flyora would become temporarily deaf as he would return home unaware of what has happened. The second act is about Flyora’s revelation about his homecoming as well as encountering events that would be life-changing where he gets an even closer view into the world of battle from afar. Especially as the third act would have him go into a village and see first-hand the worst kind of atrocities committed by the Germans to the Belorussian.

Klimov’s direction is definitely entrancing not just for the visuals but also in the way he displays horror at its most visceral. Shot entirely on location in Belarus as well as other parts shot in other areas in the then-Soviet Union, the film doesn’t play nice as it comes to the locations where some of the scenery is foggy and also very dirty with mud and swamps. It’s Klimov’s idea of this reality that is just very stark and unforgiving where the camera is always following this young boy as he goes into land that he knows quite well but it has changed to fit an atmosphere that unsettling as well as in a state of chaos. While Klimov would use some unique wide and medium shots to capture the massive landscape of the locations including the forests. He would also create some dazzling compositions that play into Flyora’s state of mind where he would have Flyora in the foreground and events around him in the background to play into his sense of detachment of the horror he’s surrounded by.

Klimov’s usage of the steadicam would be quite prominent for many of the tracking shots which often follows a lot of the action as well as every movement Flyora makes throughout the film. At times, the camera either follows him or acts as another witness of these atrocities that include some of the most terrifying moments in war. Notably as Klimov would use close-ups and high camera angles to play into this air of claustrophobia and fear that surrounds a key scene that is just terrifying to watch. Even in its aftermath that displayed some elements of surrealism that includes a woman wearing a Nazi uniform eating lobster watching these terrifying events happen without a care in the world. Still, it showcases a lot of what Flyora sees including a plane that is often flying above as it play into this idea of fantasy but also the reality that Flyora eventually come to terms with. Overall, Klimov creates an unsettling yet harrowing film about a young boy’s encounter with war.

Cinematographer Aleksei Rodionov does brilliant work with the film‘s stark cinematography with its usage of desolate yet grimy colors to play into the location while emphasizing on natural lighting to play into not just some of the beauty but also the ugliness at its most authentic. Editor Valeriya Belova does excellent work with the editing as it‘s largely straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts and dissolves while maintaining the length in some of the intricate tracking shots that is presented. Production designer Viktor Petrov does fantastic work with the look of the villages and farmhouses that play into the world that Flyora is from and what the Nazis would destroy.

Costume designer Eleonora Semyonova does nice work with the costumes from the ragged look of the partisan soldiers as well as the grimy look of the Nazi uniforms. The sound work of Viktor Mors is amazing for its mixing and sound design to play into the sounds of gunfire, artillery fire, and other array of textures including the sparse sounds when Flyora loses his hearing for a portion of the film. The film’s music by Oleg Yanchenko is phenomenal for its eerie yet entrancing ambient-based score that play into the bleak tone of the film while the music soundtrack also feature some classical pieces from Richard Wagner, Johann Strauss, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The film’s superb cast feature some notable small roles from Juri Lumiste as a Nazi officer, Viktor Lorents as a Nazi commander, Evgeniy Tilicheev as a collaborator for the Nazis, Vladas Bagdonas as a partisan soldier that Flyora would help in the second act, and Liubomiras Laucevicius, with dubbing by Valeriy Kravchenko, as the Belarussian partisan leader Kosach whom Glasha has feelings for. Olga Mironova is remarkable as Glasha as this young woman who is at the army camp helping soldiers out as she befriends Flyora while helping him return home where she gets an extremely close look at the horror of what happened to the people at his village. Finally, there’s Aleksei Kravchenko in an incredible performance as Flyora as this young boy who becomes a soldier in the hope of glory and make his life matter only to be confronted with reality of the most vicious kind as it’s a performance that is just mesmerizing to watch in capturing a young boy ravaged by the horrors of war.

Come and See is a tremendous film from Elem Klimov. Featuring a great cast, eerie visuals, graphic depiction of violence and war, and a chilling story of survival and innocence lost. It’s a war film that is truly unlike any film of that genre as well as something that will definitely challenge the casual viewer into see war for what it really is in the most visceral and horrific way. In the end, Come and See is a magnificent film from Elem Klimov.

Elem Klimov Films: (Welcome, or No Trespassing) - (Adventures of a Dentist) - (Agony) - (Farewell (1983 film))

© thevoid99 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream

Based on the book by Stuart Samuels, Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream is a documentary film that is about the culture of the midnight movies in the 1970s as it played to an audience needing an escape from the turmoil that had emerged in the late 1960s. Directed by Stuart Samuels and written by Samuels and Victor Kushmaniak, the film explore the six films that would define the midnight movie culture in that decade as well as what it did for the film industry before the emergence of home video and the blockbuster period in films. The result is a fascinating and exciting film from Stuart Samuels.

In the 1970s following a tumultuous period that saw political unrest, culture wars, assassinations, and other things that defined the late 1960s. Audiences wanting an escape from that turmoil as well as mainstream culture where screenings of low-budget films that were outside of the mainstream suddenly became cultural phenomenon. Among them were Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come, Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and David Lynch’s Eraserhead. These films that didn’t play by the rules nor were they created or funded by studios, with the exception of Rocky Horror, were films that became successful through midnight screenings in theaters around America based on word of mouth.

With interviews from filmmakers in Alejandro Jodorwsky, John Waters, George A. Romero, David Lynch, and Perry Henzell as well as Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien and that film’s producer Lou Adler plus film critics Roger Ebert, J. Hoberman, and Jonathan Rosenbaum. They all talk about the impact of the midnight movie culture where many believe the man responsible for making it happen is Ben Barenholtz who opened the Elgin Cinema in 1968 in New York City and was the one who showed El Topo in 1970 as a midnight movie knowing that it wasn’t some conventional film. For six months at the Elgin Cinema, the film played to sell-out audiences as it started this culture of the midnight movies. The films that were played at Elgin as well as other theatres around the U.S. would play these different kind of films that definitely appealed to an audience that didn’t want to the mainstream films of the times.

Other films such as Tod Browning’s Freaks and Louis J. Gasnier’s Reefer Madness were also part of the midnight movie circuits as they were films from the 1930s that were never well-received as they found new life. Largely because they were films that played to an audience that wanted to see films that weren’t about ordinary people or those that are larger than life. Stuart Samuels’ direction is straightforward as he shoots many of the interviews with the filmmakers and critics talking at the camera with either a film clip or a poster in the background with the aid of cinematographer Richard Fox. With the aid of editors Michael Bembenek, Robert J. Coleman, John Dowding, Lorenzo Massa, and Kevin Rollins as well as the sound work of Euan Hunter, Samuels’ usage of film clips plus newspaper clippings and reports showcase the phenomenon that these films had as well as what it did to the film industry.

Its decline and end definitely doesn’t just attribute to the rise of the home video market but also the blockbuster films such as Jaws and Star Wars where it appealed to a wide audience and were financially profitable. Filmmakers and film critics believe that decline definitely saw audiences interact less and not bother discovering films that don’t play by the rules. Samuels’ direction would play into that decline but also that sense of interest towards those films but also the idea of the midnight movie screening. The film’s music by Eric Cadesky and Nick Dyer is wonderful as it’s mainly low-key in its electronic setting to play into the different type of films that is featured in the documentary.

Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream is a marvelous film from Stuart Samuels. It’s not only a compelling documentary that explores the brief but immense popularity of the midnight films but also a look into the filmmakers and films that definitely gave audiences a fitting alternative from the mainstream as well as something that would become phenomenon in their own way. In the end, Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream is a remarkable film from Stuart Samuels.

Related: Freaks - El Topo - Eraserhead

© thevoid99 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Santa Sangre

Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and screenplay by Jodorowsky, Claudio Argento, and Roberto Leoni from a story by Jodorowsky, Santa Sangre (Holy Blood) is the story of a man who reflect on his life being raised in the circus as he looks back at his childhood and his life as an adult. The film is an unconventional life story that plays with unconventional narratives of flashback and flash-forwards to tell the story of this man’s life. Starring Cristobal “Axel” Jodorowsky, Adan Jodorowsky, Teo Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, and Guy Stockwell. Santa Sangre is a ravishing yet harrowing film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

The film is a complex tale of a troubled and traumatized man who reflects on his life as a child living in the circus as a performer as he also copes with the demons of his past as an adult upon reuniting with his mother who wants him to kill women she sees as threats to her. The film is an unconventional story where it begins at an insane asylum where the protagonist Fenix (Cristobal “Axel” Jodorowsky) looks back at his life as a child magician (Adan Jodorowsky) where his parents were circus performers while his mother Concha (Blanca Guerra) was also a religious cult leader. Due to the infidelities of his father Orgo (Guy Stockwell), Concha would despise women as she disappeared leaving the young Fenix traumatized and institutionalized until he escapes, in the film’s second act as an adult, upon seeing her where she uses his arms to kill other women since she lost her arms following a fight with Orgo. For Fenix, whatever chances he has to find some normalcy or be with someone would be destroyed where he is consumed with guilt over his actions.

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s direction definitely bears not just style but also a lot of symbolism as it relates to the world that Fenix is in. A world of the whimsical and offbeat as well as the world of spirituality where Fenix is torn between two ideals that are each represented by his parents as both ideals have their flaws. Shot on location in Mexico, the film’s location represents that sense of conflict but also a world that is quite chaotic where Jodorowsky would create some dazzling compositions that play into some of the imagery that is prevalent in the film. The usage of wide and medium shots as well as some tracking shots play into some of the locations as well as the world that is the circus and the theatre where the latter play into the events in the film’s second act where Fenix returns to performing. The world of the whimsy wouldn’t just features a very bizarre scene that involve Fenix and Downs syndrome patients going to a brothel and snorting cocaine but also moments in Fenix’s performance as a magician.

The film’s violence is definitely graphic where Jodorowsky makes no qualms into the intensity of the violence that is in the film. The sequences in the first act that involve Concha and Orgo aren’t just gory but also have this impact where it is quite confrontational as it is really the start of what Fenix would be forced to do under Concha’s prompting. The scenes where Fenix is killing women where he is acting as Concha’s arms definitely add something that is very abstract but once Fenix’s arms would attack. All fucking hell breaks loose while there are also these elements where Jodorowsky also play into the fallacy of faith as it relates to what Concha believes in as well as what she tries to do. Especially in a scene where a Vatican magistrate (Sergio Bustamante) comes to her church to inspect this pool of blood where it showcases some of the fallacy of organized religion and faith. It would come ahead in the film’s climax in the third act as it play into Fenix’s struggle to be himself as well as the torment from his mother that continuously haunts him. Overall, Jodorowsky creates a terrifying yet rapturous film about a man’s struggle for sanity as he is tormented by demons in his life.

Cinematographer Daniele Nannuzzi does brilliant work with the film‘s very colorful and gorgeous cinematography with its usage of lights and moods for many of the daytime/nighttime exterior scenes along with unique lighting for some of the nighttime scenes. Editor Mauro Bonanni does excellent work with the editing as it has a few jump-cuts while maintaining something that is very straightforward and help play up some of the film‘s suspense. Production designer Alejandro Luna and set decorator Enrique Estevez do amazing work with the look of Concha‘s church and the shrine she created for her saint as well as the look of the circus and some of the places the characters go to. Costume designer Tolita Figueroa does fantastic work with the costumes that the characters wear as they‘re very colorful as well as have an air of personality into the characters and where they are in their lives.

Makeup supervisor Lamberto Marini does nice work with the design of the makeup from the look of Fenix‘s love interest Alma as well as the look of Alma‘s mother who is covered up with lots of tattoos. Special effects supervisor Marcelino Pacheco does terrific work with some of the minimal special effects as it relates to some of the magic tricks that Fenix performs as well as some of the intense moments of violence. Sound mixer Robert Camacho does superb work with the sound to play into some of the events in the circus as well as the party atmosphere in the streets. The film’s music by Simon Boswell is wonderful for its mixture of traditional Mexican folk music with some eerie synthesizer textures to play into the drama, comedy, and suspense where it help set a mood for a scene in the film while the soundtrack would feature songs played in a traditional ballad style.

The casting by Pablo Leder is great as it feature some notable small roles from Brontis Jodorowsky as a orderly at the institution, S. Rodriguez as a female wrestler called Santa, Hector Ortega as the institution doctor, Gloria Contreras as a performer that tried to seduce Fenix in Rubi, Jesus Juarez as a midget performance and friend of Fenix in Aladin, Sergio Bustamante as a Vatican official, Ma. De Jesus Aranzabal as a fat prostitute who would sleep with the Downs syndrome patients, and Teo Jodorowsky as the pimp who would give those patients cocaine and be this spark that would bring terror to Fenix. Faviola Elenka Tapia is terrific as the young Alma as this deaf-mute circus performer who would befriend the young Fenix while Sabrina Dennison is fantastic as the adult Alma who would remain deaf-mute where she would try to find Fenix and save him from the torment of his mother. Thelma Tixou is excellent as the tattooed woman who is Alma’s mother as she would seduce Orgo in a lot of ways and bring rage to Concha where she later becomes a prostitute and raise the ire of Fenix.

Guy Stockwell is superb as Fenix’s father as a circus performer who is also a hypnotist that tries to help his son become a man while also being flawed in the fact that he cheats on Concha to be with the tattooed woman. Blanca Guerra is amazing as Concha as Fenix’s mother who lost her arms during a fight with her husband as she becomes this figure of torment who forces her son to kill at urging where she has this very chilling presence that is just intriguing to watch. Adan Jodorowsky is brilliant as the young Fenix as this boy who deals with some of the events in his life as well as trying to be this performer who would lose his innocence in the most drastic ways. Finally, there’s Cristobal “Axel” Jodorowsky in an excellent performance as the adult Fenix as this troubled man that tries to regain some of his old innocence while dealing with the torment of his mother where it’s a very chilling and scary performance that is just fascinating to watch.

Santa Sangre is a phenomenal film from Alejandro Jodorowsky. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, compelling views on faith and torment, and some very intense moments of violence. It’s a film that explores the idea of torment and conflict through the eyes of a man as he reflects on his troubled childhood and already complicated life as an adult. In the end, Santa Sangre is a spectacular film from Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: La Cravate - Teatro sin fin - Fando y Lis - El Topo - The Holy Mountain - Tusk (1980 film) - The Rainbow Thief - The Dance of Reality - (Endless Poetry)

Related: Jodorowsky's Dune - The Auteurs #59: Alejandro Jodorowsky

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Speedy (1928 film)

Directed by Ted Wilde and written by John Grey, Lex Neal, Howard Rogers, and Jay Howe, Speedy is the story of a man trying to save the last horse-drawn streetcar for his girlfriend’s grandfather in New York City while trying to get work in the city. The film is a slapstick/silent comedy that doesn’t just explore the frenzy of the modern world but a man trying to salvage of what is left of what near and dear in the old one as the titular character of Harold “Speedy“ Swift is played by Harold Lloyd. Also starring Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff, Brooks Benedict, and Babe Ruth as himself. Speedy is a sensational and witty film from Ted Wilde.

The film is the story of a man trying to find many jobs in New York City as he does whatever he can to help his girlfriend and her grandfather where the latter works and runs the last horse-drawn streetcar in New York City where a businessman wants to shut it down for good. It’s a simple story of a man trying to do whatever he can as his attempts to get and hold jobs are short-lived either through bumbling circumstances or by his own fault. Yet, it plays into someone trying to do whatever he can to be part of this modern world that is so chaotic and demanding. Even as he learns about what this businessman wants to do to stop the horse-drawn streetcar out for good prompting Speedy to do whatever he can to help his girlfriend and her grandfather.

Ted Wilde’s direction is definitely thrilling in terms of capturing life in late 1920s New York City in all of its craziness in the boom that it’s in before the Great Depression as well as that air of escapism. Many of Wilde’s compositions are quite dazzling to capture the craziness of the locations in New York City that include some unique chase scenes for the second and third act where Speedy is driving a cab in the former and the streetcar in the latter. The usage of the wide and medium shots would play into that craziness as well as the beauty of the sequence in Coney Island not just for the rides but also the lights set at night.

There’s a beauty to Wilde’s direction in those moments while his approach to setting up the gags are just as engaging as well as in the comical moments that occur such as a hilarious sequence where Speedy picks up Babe Ruth and drive him to Yankee Stadium for a game. Wilde’s direction also maintains a sense of energy and wit that is always entertaining in the way Speedy does whatever to help his girlfriend’s grandfather. Overall, Wilde creates an exhilarating film about a man helping out another old man through a series of misadventures.

Cinematographer Walter Lundin, with special effects photography by H. Kohler, does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the way the lights of Coney Island look at night with such beauty to the daytime exteriors of the city with Kohler providing photography for some of the chase scenes. Editor Carl Himm does brilliant work with the editing as it is largely straightforward to play with the film‘s energy and humor as it includes some rhythmic cuts. Art director L.K. Vedder does superb work with the look of the streetcar that is used as well as the design of some of the shops where many of old men work at. The film’s music by Carl Davis, for its 1992 reissue, is amazing for its mixture of jazz and ragtime music to play into the period of the 1920s as it has an air of fun in the music.

The film’s fantastic cast include a hilarious cameo appearance from baseball legend Babe Ruth as himself as well as Brooks Benedict as the sleazy businessman Steve Carter who tries to buy out Pops Dillon. Bert Woodruff is excellent as Pop Dillon as the driver of a horse-drawn streetcar that is desperate to hold on to his business while he wonders why Speedy keeps losing his job. Ann Christy is wonderful as Speedy’s girlfriend Jane who is worried about her grandfather while pondering about the idea of a future with Speedy. Finally, there’s Harold Lloyd in an incredible performance as the titular character as this determined yet bumbling man who is trying to do what it takes to help Pops while he screw things up along with way as some of it is due to his love for the New York Yankees as it’s an iconic performance from Lloyd.

Speedy is a phenomenal film from Ted Wilde that features a great performance from Harold Lloyd. Featuring some dazzling visuals, hilarious gags, and some amazing sequences that is engaging and adventurous, it’s a film that manages to showcase what the idea of comedy could be and more. In the end, Speedy is a sensational film from Ted Wilde.

© thevoid99 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Steamboat Bill Jr.

Directed by Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner and written by Keaton and Carl Harbaugh, Steamboat Bill Jr. is the story of a young man who reluctantly joins the crew of his father’s steamboat as a way to be a captain like his father. The film is a silent comedy that explore a man trying to help his father save the business as well as deal with what is expected of him as Buster Keaton plays the titular role. Also starring Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron, Tom Lewis, James T. Mack, and Tom McGuire. Steamboat Bill Jr. is a sensational film from Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner.

The film is a simple story about this college graduate who travels from Boston to the Mississippi River to visit his steamboat captain father whom he hadn’t seen since he was a baby. There, he finds himself trying to do what his father does to please him while dealing with his father’s rival whose daughter is someone he’s in love with and went to school with. It’s a film that has this young man trying to find his way to a world that is so foreign to him yet bumbles his way to understand life in a steamboat. The film’s script is more driven by William Canfield Jr. and his attempt to please his father as well as win over Kitty King (Marion Byron). Still, there are complications as William’s father (Ernest Torrence) has a steamboat that is old and falling apart as he is forced to compete with the town’s richest man in John James King (Tom McGuire) who doesn’t approve of William Jr. because of his father.

The film’s direction by Charles Reisner and an un-credited Buster Keaton is quite sprawling for the world they create from the look of the river and town as well as the steamboats where Canfield‘s steamboat looks old and worked up while King is new, rich, and filled with a lot as it play into the personalities of these two men. The direction has these rich compositions with some unique wide and medium shots to capture the landscape with the latter providing some scenery in some of the gags that Keaton would create. Notably as he maintains a simplicity and straightforward approach to the way his character would act in these situations only to screw things up.

One of the film’s greatest moments involves this cyclone with these huge winds and set pieces that are just astronomical. Notably in how Reisner and Keaton would set up the moment and the framing as well as the stunts that Keaton would perform during the whole thing. Even in a scene where the wall of a house would fall while William Jr. is standing at a spot and come out unscathed. It’s among these moments that really showcases what Keaton is willing to do just to create some laughs which he does succeed and more. Overall, Keaton and Reisner create a very whimsical yet spellbinding film about a young man trying to please his father by working at his father’s steamboat.

Cinematographers Bert Haines and Devereaux Jennings do excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white cinematography to play into the sunny look of the daytime exteriors while using some lights for some of the scenes set at night. Editor Sherman Kell does brilliant work with the editing as it‘s largely straightforward with some rhythmic cutting to play into the humor as well as the transition to inter-titles. Music supervisor Gaylord Carter provides a nice music accompaniment that is a mixture of jazz and ragtime to play into the comical energy of the film.

The film’s superb cast include a couple of small roles from James T. Mack as a minister and Tom Lewis as the first mate for Canfield Sr while the performances of Tom McGuire and Ernest Torrence in their respective roles as John James King and William Canfield Sr. are just hilarious as they play the fall guys who don’t like each other and don’t approve of William Jr. and Kitty being together. Marion Byron is fantastic as King’s daughter Kitty as this young woman who is a classmate of William Jr. as she helps him look the part of a steamboat crew member while also having some feelings for him. Finally, there’s Buster Keaton in an incredible performance as the titular character as this college man who isn’t the strongest guy to work inside a steamboat but certainly determined while Keaton manages to use his physicality and wit to create a performance that is just so fun to watch.

Steamboat Bill Jr. is a phenomenal film from Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner. It’s a film that isn’t just one of the finest silent comedies ever made but also displays a sense of ambition of what Keaton was trying to do with the art form and more. In the end, Steamboat Bill Jr. is a tremendous film from Buster Keaton and Charles Reisner.

Buster Keaton Films: (The Rough House) - (One Week (1920 short)) - (Convict 13) - (The Scarecrow (1920 short)) - (Neighbors (1920 short)) - (The Haunted House (1921 short)) - (Hard Luck (1921 short)) - (The High Sign) - (The Goat (1921 short)) - (The Playhouse) - (The Boat) - (The Paleface) - (Cops) - (My Wife’s Relations) - (The Blacksmith) - (The Frozen North) - (The Electric House) - (Day Dreams (1922 short)) - (The Balloonatic) - (The Love Nest) - (Three Ages) - (Our Hospitality) - Sherlock Jr. - The Navigator (1924 film) - Seven Chances - (Go West (1925 film)) - (Battling Butler) - The General (1926 film) - (College (1927 film)) - The Cameraman - (Spite Marriage) - (The Gold Ghost) - (Allez Oop) - (Tars and Stripes) - (Grand Slam Opera) - (One Run Elmer) - (Blue Blazes) - (Mixed Magic) - (Love Nest on Wheels)

© thevoid99 2016