DAY FIVE - HE CAME, SAW AND CONQUERED
Alejandro Jodorowsky came, saw and conquered Sitges last night with his incredible magical realist autobiography THE DANCE OF REALITY. The cult director took to the stage and told the audience that he didn't shoot his latest work in secret for the money but "to make great art", and that is precisely what he's achieved with this hallucinogenic exploration of his early life as a child growing up in Tocopilla, Chile. With his Stalinist loving father Jamie (Brontis Jodorowsky giving the bravest performance of the year) trying to turn his son into a real man through dental trips minus anaesthetic and slapping contests, his over-protective mother Sara (the extraordinary Pamela Flores) singing all her lines in high opera and wearing tight cleavage-revealing dresses, the symbols, mysticism and sexuality that will inform Jodo's subsequent work from EL TOPO to SANTA SANGRE are all present and correct in what can best be described as Jodorowsky's AMARCORD.
What's real, what's imagined, is the crux of Jodo's sensational sensory trip through the colours, atmospheres and music of 1920s South America. Halfway through this 130 minute epic Jamie takes centre stage embarking on a quest to assassinate the hated dictator Ibanez but becoming paralysed by fear before pulling the trigger. This then sends Jamie on a voyage of self-discovery through slums and carpentry leading to his family's migration to Mexico where Jodo grows up to spearhead surrealist theatre and invent the Midnight Movie.
The 84 year old Jodorowsky appears throughout to comment on the action and add his own thoughts on life. He told us lastnight that if the money had run out before he had shot the entire movie, he had every intention of completing it by sitting in a chair and relating the images. Funny, vulgar, shocking and emotional, THE DANCE OF REALITY is a masterpiece from an amazing artist who, based on this provocative and compelling half-truth, is far from being the spent force many thought he might be after years of trying to get another project together. It's all here - circuses, masks, the severely disabled, umbrellas, theosophists, Nazism, urination, torture - snapshots of Jodo's past, present and futuristic imagination installations as vibrant and potent as ever.
Jodo attended the first Sitges festival with FANDO Y LIS and now he's returned 46 years later older, wiser and even more confrontational than before. I adore the man who I've worked with on numerous occasions, the last being his PA in Cannes when his earlier works were restored for DVD release. I still have never met anyone like him and if you get the chance to see the documentary JODOROWSKY'S DUNE, you will also see why his unique conscious has impacted on all sci-fi movies from ALIEN to PROMETHEUS. That doc made a great double bill with THE DANCE OF REALITY and left everyone on a major high. None of us have stopped talking about this movie today, scenes keep haunting us and we have to talk about them and share our ever-changing impressions. Now that really is what I call great art.
Today's movie was the Tribeca and PiFan hit THE MACHINE. Written and directed by Caradog James and shot on what looks like an industrial complex in Wales, this is a superbly crafted Man vs Robot sci-fi miniature. The UK is immersed in a Cold War with China and the Ministry of Defence has asked scientist Vincent McCarthy (ever dependable Toby Stephens) to develop cyborg super-soldiers. Research is affected when a computer error gives life to his invention, leading Vincent to ask for help from AI expert Ava (an affecting Caitzy Lotz). Finally a cybernetic machine is invented that is strong and can kill with one blow. Sinister MoD man Dennis Lawson wants to eradicate any feeling of remorse from it, while Vincent sees that human streak as a necessary element in its moral judgement. Only one side will be victorious in the battle between heart and mind.
With terrific use of CGI and a story that adds intriguing wrinkles to such similar ones before it, THE MACHINE deserves its gathering reputation as a commercial festival favourite. Released in the UK next March, this one is well worth checking out because of the deceptive simplicity with which it has been lovingly made. Now it's off to the ASMODEXIA party as we countdown the minutes to the first showing here of Ti West's THE SACRAMENT.
Until the last day tomorrow.
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