The Dance of Reality

The Dance of Reality

Long gone is the ‘70s golden age of midnight movies, psychedelic surrealism, and film industries’ deistic attitudes towards auteurs. Perhaps no filmmaker’s career has suffered more from this change in commercial and cultural sensibilities than Alejandro Jodorowsky, who birthed the successive cult staples El Topo and The Holy Mountain in the 1970s but has only seen the realization of sporadic (if no less brilliant) productions since. All of which makes it all the more amazing that Jodorowsky has experienced something of a quiet career renaissance in 2014 as the subject of Frank Pavich’s documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune and as the director of The Dance of Reality, the filmmaker’s first completed feature in nearly a quarter century. Yet for the never-not-great-news of new Jodorowsky, these two films hardly feel like a collective appreciation for an underappreciated artist in the twilight of his career, despite the direct relationship they share (Jodorowsky’s Dune reunited the filmmaker with producer Michel Seydoux, which resulted in The Dance of Reality). Jodorowsky’s Dune and The Dance of Reality present a tale of two Jodorowskys: one an eccentric and hyperbolic personality dictating an uncompromising and supreme vision, the other an octogenarian artist using what might be his final venture behind the camera to reflect on his work’s relationship to his family history and ethnic identity. One film chronicles a work never completed, while the other bears all the burdens and wisdom of a late career entry.

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Dance of Reality

After a hundred-year absence, Alejandro Jodorowsky is back with a new film that promises to be as inventive and visually adventurous as his earlier work. The autobiographical Dance of Reality waltzes through the filmmakers childhood in Chile, although it’s doubtful that it moves in a straight line. After all, Jodorowsky is the kind of storyteller who would make Dali blush. Alongside the recent Jodorowsky’s Dune, which chronicles the failed attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s sci-fi series into bizarre filmic reality, it feels like we’re in the middle of a small Renaissance for the man behind El Topo, Santa Sangre and more. Fortunately, we got our hands on a clip from his latest work, and if there’s anything weirder than watching a Jodorowsky movie, it’s watching a scene from one without any context. Enjoy:

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Jodoroskwy_as_El_Topo

Alejandro Jodorowsky is, perhaps more than any other living filmmaker that comes to mind, a visionary who stands entirely alone. His influences come from multiple sources – surrealism, the spaghetti western, theater, etc. – but he is loyal to no particular artistic movement or historical moment. He’s a brazenly original, playfully anarchistic, uncalculating provocateur and walking anachronism whose work speaks to and across various artistic traditions, belonging exclusively to none. Born to Jewish Ukranian parents in Tocopilla, Chile in 1929, Jodorowsky grew to acquire such a dedicated interest in arts and theater that he moved to France in the 1950s to study mime with Etienne Decroux before starting a career in cinema with his short La Cravate in 1957. Since then, Jodorowsky became the helmer of midnight classics like the acid western El Topo and his psychedelic John-and-Yoko-funded Brechtian epic The Holy Mountain (The IFC Center puts both these films on midnight rotation at least once a month). Jodorowsky also famously attempted an ambitious but never-realized adaptation of Dune and recently completed his seventh feature film, The Dance of Reality. Both The Dance of Reality and the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune premiered at this year’s Cannes film festival, so the esoteric filmmaking veteran (at age 84) is suddenly experiencing a peak in the spotlight. Here’s some free film school wisdom we can learn from the man who officiated Marilyn Manson’s most recent wedding.

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Dance of Reality

The last movie Alejandro Jodorowsky directed was 1990’s The Rainbow Thief, and while the visionary behind El Topo, Santa Sangre and others has done some writing and acting, The Dance of Reality (La danza de la realidad) is his first fully realized return to filmmaking in 23 years. That’s been an excruciatingly long wait for fans, but the trailer here delivers a lot of the director’s signature moves. So it’s a return in at least three ways. He’s back in the director’s chair (he also wrote and acts in it), he’s back exploring the circus (and several other thematic favorites), but he’s also looking into his own history as Dance is an autobiographical work envisioning his childhood in Chile with surreal liberties taken to champion the power of imagination. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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