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Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection Blu-ray Review

The “Alejandro Jodorowsky Collection” is a must for fans of the avant-garde filmmaker.

For those that are unfamiliar with director Alejandro Jodorowsky, he’s a trippy and bold filmmaker that goes against the grain to put it simply. He’s less concerned with standard narratives and is more interested in surrealism, psychedelia, striking visuals, strange plots, and spiritualism. There’s no question that Jodorowsky’s out-there work is not for all audiences, but he has certainly developed a passionate fanbase and has become a favorite amongst midnight movie and cult movie lovers around the globe. For those fans (or those looking to explore the famed director’s work), a new Blu-ray box set has just been released that features 4 of his films- “El Topo,” “Psychomagic, A Healing Art,” “The Holy Mountain,” and “Fando Y Lis.”

“Fando Y Lis” is Jodorowsky’s first feature film and it’s pure surrealism. The story concerns Fando and his parapalegic lover (Lis) embarking on a surrealistic journey to find the fabled City of Tar. 

While I didn’t personally connect with this film myself, there’s no doubt it’s a strange and visual cinematic journey that showcases Jodorowsky’s talent as a visual artist. Whether you’re seeing a flaming piano, Lis lying in skulls, bowling balls being tossed at people, or people writhing around in the mud, you can be sure to find plenty of wild visuals on display here. Sure, it might be pretentious to some, but to art house lovers and fans of challenging cinema, there’s a lot here to unpack here.

1970’s “El Topo” is a western unlike any other that follows an umbrella sporting gunfighter dressed in black and his young son. I’m not even going to attempt to describe the loaded story, but I will say viewers can expect plots involving manhood, the murderous Colonel and his gang, 4 gun masters, philosophies, cultists, deformed outcasts living in a cave, finding one’s self, and much more. 

To me, this is far and away Jodorowsky’s best work. He takes a familiar genre with the western and turns it on its head as only the director can. He subverts expectations and does something decidedly unique within the trope filled genre exploring the types of subjects that mean something to him ala philosophy. Of course, there’s plenty of peculiar imagery and provoking moments on display here as per usual, but it’s a more accessible film to be sure.

1973’s “The Holy Mountain” feels like many films in one. At its core, it’s a story about the Alchemist guiding pilgrims up the titular mountain to seek enlightenment, but the story (if you want to call it that) goes off in many other directions as it explores religion, cinema, materialism, vanity, sexuality, and so much more.

“The Holy Mountain” is perhaps Jodorowsky’s most mind boggling film while also being one of his most celebrated. It’s bloody, it’s darkly comedic, it features scenes of repulsive animal cruelty (sometimes Jodorowsky goes too far in making his art in my humble opinion), it’s bonkers, it’s rich and it’s ambitious. I couldn’t tell you if I like this movie or merely admire it, but, one thing is for sure, there’s nothing else like it. From a purely visual standpoint, it’s easily his most cinematic with the film’s expansive colorful sets and complex crowd shots. It’s a real marvel to watch.

Last, but not least is a Jodorowsky directed documentary titled “Psychomagic, A Healing Art” that is about the director’s invented alternative healing methods through art. The doc features interviews with Jodorowsky while also including archival healing sessions and newly shot ones.

Whether you buy into the validity of Psychomagic or not, the documentary is an engaging if deeply flawed look at the elaborate physical methods to help people work through their issues. Given that Jodorowsky directed this himself, the main problem here is that it all feels like a glorified ad for his practice. There’s something very egocentric about this 2019 film which makes it a bit off-putting at times.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.78:1 1080p for ‘Psychomagic,’ 1.33:1 1080p for ‘Fando,’ 2.35:1 1080p for ‘Holy’ and  1.85:1 1080p and 1.37:1 1080p for “El Topo.” How do they look? ‘Fando,” “El Topo” and ‘Holy” have all been given 4K restorations here. “El Topo” looks the best of the lot as the picture quality is breathtaking. The B&W ‘Fando’ has been cleaned up extremely well while ‘Holy’ looks better than ever. ‘Psychomagic’ varies in quality as any documentary does, but the hi-def transfer is of nice quality.

Audio Track: Uncompressed 5.1 DTS-HD MA for ‘Psychomagic,’ Uncompressed Mono 1.0 LPCM for ‘Fando,’ 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Uncompressed Mono 1.0 LPCM for ‘Holy,’ and 5.1 DTS-HD and Uncompressed Mono 1.0 LPCM for ‘Topo.’  How do they sound? Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of these audio options. Whether you’re picking the Mono tracks or the 5.1 tracks, you get a nice layered audio experience for these four features. 

Extras:
* “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain” scores
* Trailers for “Psychomagic, A Healing Art,” “Fando Y Lis,” “The Holy Mountain,” and “El Topo.”
* The English dub version of “El Topo.”
* An intro to “El Topo,” “The Holy Mountain,” and “Fando Y Lis” by Richard Pena.
* A new interview with Brontis Jodorowsky (who played El Topo’s young son).
* Production stills, posters, press materials and reviews, and original script image galleries for “El Topo.”
* An archival interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky from 2007.
* “Jodorowsky remembers El Topo,” “The Holy Mountain,” and “Fando Y Lis”- Separate 2019 interview with the filmmaker who talks about his vision of his films.
* Commentary by Jodorowsky onn “El Topo,” “The Holy Mountain” and “Fando Y Lis.”
* A double-sided poster of “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain.”
* 6 double-sided cards for “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain.”
* Behind-the-scenes and posters image galleries for “Fando Y Lis.”
* “La Constellation Jodorowsky”- An 86 minute documentary film on the filmmaker. Film clips and interviews with Jodorowsky and others are included.
* “La Cravate”- Jodorowsky’s 21 minute short film adaptation of Thomas Mann’s “The Transposed Heads.”
* A thick booklet featuring photos, credits, an interview with Jodorowsky from Time Out, original review snippets, essays by editor Virginie Selavy, film critic Michael Atkinson, director Bilge Ebiri, author Mark Pilkington
* Deleted scenes on “The Holy Mountain” with Jodorowsky commentary
* 25 minutes of outtakes from “The Holy Mountain.”
* Animated script gallery for “The Holy Mountain” along with galleries for production stills, posters, set panels, awards and papers and ephemera.
* “The Tarot”- A short film with Jodorowsky talking about tarot cards.
* “The A To Z Of The Holy Mountain”- A scripted video essay by writer Ben Cobb that offers some intriguing behind-the-scenes insight.
* “Pablo Leder: Jodorowsky’s Right Hand Man”- An interview with Jodorowsky’s personal assistant.
  

September 24, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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