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Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

El topo: a surreal wild-west-type cowboy tale that’s heavy on the religious symbolism and appeared to have been conceived (& filmed) whilst on all of the drugs. The biggest thing this film has going for it is reel after reel of top-shelf insanity and phenomenal imagery: attempting to put some of the scenes into words wouldn’t do them justice – but suffice to say that the locations, landscapes, characters, and overall visuals are absolutely remarkable. Beyond the aesthetics, the rest of the film feels like a hodgepodge of themes, styles, and ideas. The tone continually bounces around from jarring “Texas Chainsaw” style, straight into to a Russ Meyers type shoe-sniffer: from po-faced religious moments through to Blazing Saddles levels of stupidity. It’s also – unfortunately – a film of two halves, that gets tangled up after the initial “mission” and really loses the head of steam (and patience) that the first have had built up. The foley work is particularly terrible – the film is shot outdoors, but most of the speech and effects appear to have been recorded in a boxy echo chamber. There’s also a lot of violent (although reddest blood ever) and exploitative stuff in here too, like the misuse of religion, lesbians, and midgets & disabled people for no real reason. Bizarre and easily one of the strangest & most overlooked cult movies ever made, El Topo is the most peculiar of beasts, that’s only worth watching for it’s sublime and visionary aesthetic.

Score: 5/10

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau, José Luis Fernández, Alf Junco, Jacqueline Luis, Mara Lorenzio, Paula Romo, David Silva, Héctor Martínez, José Legarreta

 

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Red and White: After his family is brutally murdered Thomas joins the army and is placed in a platoon that learn to ignore their differences and come together to fight for independence. With two training montages and nothing but character building in the first 40 minutes you start to think you’re watching the wrong film – then BOOM – the frontline reaches them. The action scenes are gritty and realistic, showing the best and worst in soldiers. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the final ambush sequence is straight out of Hollywood, and the film’s punctuated with some sweet gunfights and quality stealth kills with knives and machetes. Set in Indonesia, it gives you a good background on the history in that part of the world – although it doesn’t paint the Dutch in favourable light – razing villages etc. The films feels like it’s cut short at the end, but saves it from needlessly going beyond the 110 minute mark. The final product is a proud/sentimental national war film like any other, with more emphasis on the story than action. Recommended for War Film fans.

Score: 6/10