You have to love Alejandro ‘Chuckles’ Jodorowsky… he’s such a great conman that he’s able to fool most of his fans most of the time (fooling all the people at any one time is rather more difficult). His first feature film Fando y Lis (1968) was fabulous, but his output went gradually downhill from there…. as I’ve already said in different words elsewhere on this site. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed watching Chuckles’ almost overnight transformation from an obscure cult figure whose films were very difficult to see, to his re-emergence as a maverick who merits regular name-checking by the ‘mainstream’. The tipping point for Chuckles was 2007, when Tartan in the UK and Blue Anchor in the US issued a box set of his three key movies (Fando y Lis, El Topo and The Holy Mountain), and since then I haven’t been able to move without stumbling over press coverage for Jodorowsky; a couple of weeks ago he was even featured on the front cover of the print version of The Guardian’s weekly Guide. The Guardian piece was hung on a Season of Jodorowsky in London organised by Guerrilla Zoo, comprising an ‘art’ exhibition, three performances of a play and some film screenings.
A few months ago I saw the Drawing Room’s Jodorowsky show, based on this director’s preparations for his aborted Dune film project. I went on a Saturday and the ‘wow factor’ was the dense and completely mixed art and cult film/sci-fi crowd, the place was heaving. The work displayed at The Drawing Room – production sketches by Moebius, H.R Giger and Chris Foss, plus recent art pieces inspired by the unrealised movie – did nothing for me. As a result of that Drawing Room experience, I decided to catch Jodorowsky’s current London exhibition at The Horse Hospital on a Friday afternoon right at the end of its run (today is the last day), hoping it would be a little emptier than the Dune show. I was surprised that no one else was there when I was looking at the work, but my expectation that I would find it dull proved well founded. The ‘wow factor’ this time turned out to be the price tags (in the £12,000 to £15,00 bracket) for work that looked like it had been made by a teenage outsider artist born in the early part of the 20th-century and just after he or she had discovered surrealism and the occult (Jodorowsky turned 80 this year, so perhaps this can be attributed to him starting off a little old-fashioned and then never growing up). I can’t imagine the trade in these items, or even those pictures that are available in limited edition prints at £80, being particularly brisk. Still, the sheer front Chuckles possesses continues to impress me; and as I hope is clear, I value his happenings and film work of the 1960s. The current show features 32 mediocre (they aren’t even bad) watercolours, all of them collaborations between Chuckles and Pascale Montandon.
After a Friday afternoon looking at Alejandro Jodorowsky and Pascale Montandon’s incredibly dull watercolours, there was only one thing I wanted to do that evening, and that was see a movie with no pretensions to being anything very special at all. I hadn’t watched Joel Silberg’s Breakin’ (1984) for at least two years, so it seemed like a good candidate as a piece of mindless entertainment. Two street dancers Ozone (Adolfo Quinones) and Turbo (Michael Chambers) meet up with a middle-class white girl called Kelly AKA Special K (Lucinda Dickey) and like each other’s style. Kelly is a trained dancer but she realises the street kids have talent, and after a few set backs they all gain the recognition they deserve. The film is set in LA, so there is plenty of sunshine alongside the endless breakin’!
The street lingo and threads of the ‘real’ kids are a groove sensation, but even better are the eighties outfits worn by the trained dancers! Looking at the Dickey’s crazy leotard outfit with purple pants worn over it, made me want to dig out my copy of Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock – The Dancing Death (1984), which like Breakin’ is a Flashdance (1983, Adrian Lyne) rip-off that is not only much better than its ‘inspiration’ but also has plenty of gore and nudity! My main problem with Breakin’ is that while there is some semi-romantic interest between Ozone and Kelly, they fail to get off, let alone get it on in a steamy tripple X-rated all nude sex scene.
The rapper at the street events in Breakin’ is Ice-T and he’s described the film as ‘whack'; but actually it’s Ice-T who is whack, the film itself is so stupid it is really far out! The formulaic nature of Breakin’ represents a complete break with realism, and it is this that makes it a prime example of post-modern kitsch, in other words it is so bad it is good! In dissin’ the film to cover up his own poor performance, Ice-T merely demonstrates that he don’t know jack shit about the way in which ‘the masses’ absorb all meaning; I’d expect a bit more savvy from a motormouthed entertainer like Ice-T, who claims to have been a pimp before he started rapping and acting – but maybe he’s just the ‘original’ Sunset Boulevard ‘flake’! I watch a film like this mainly to check the dance moves, and there are plenty of those, I don’t really care about the ‘plot’, which is after all merely a vehicle to display plenty of lockin’, poppin’ and breakin’!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!