by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
With only a few samples in his filmography, Alejandro Jodorowsky has managed to create metaphysical masterpieces, one right after another, each more revealing than the last. He's the greatest director you've maybe never heard of. Even though Fando y Lis, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, after languishing in copyright Hell for years, were finally released on DVD, most Jodorowsky followers were waiting for his 1989 hallucinatory experience Santa Sangre to get the respect it so divinely deserves. A young Mexican circus magician witnesses his bloated, philandering father slice his religious fanatic mother's arms off, leading to a lifetime of catatonic psychotic behavior. It doesn't help matters when his mom shows back up in his life, using his arms as her own, be it for eating breakfast or getting bloody revenge. Santa Sangre is a beautifully surreal Oedipal nightmare, mixing Jodorowsky's constant search for holy enlightenment with a definite Italian giallo vibe. Now if only we can get Tusk released!
I'd never come this subtle, obscure, Euro-infused heist film before, so to discover it was one of the best cinematic treats so far this year. The underrated Charles Grodin is a sad-sack (today he'd be called emo) diamond dealer who, tired of being a nobody, plans an exceedingly well-choreographed heist that will not only earn him some nice bread, but will also completely bankrupt the world diamond economy. Aiding him is a spunky wealthy widow (Candice Bergen) and a disgruntled inside man (James Mason). The actual setup and pull-off of the robbery is genius in its simplicity: The only tools needed are a cockroach and an industrial vacuum. What makes 11 Harrowhouse so different than other heist flicks of the time is the consistently sardonic, dry humor, provided by Grodin (who also penned the script) throughout the proceedings. Like an anti-Steve McQueen, he doesn't try to be cool, and that's probably why he exudes it here.
An homage to old-school screwball comedies, starring Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman and Liza Minnelli as Prohibition-era bootleggers involved in a menage a trois relationship, both personal and business-wise? Really? Sign me up! Another obscure find from the good folks at Shout! Factory, Lucky Lady is a mid-’70s misfire that probably plays better today than it did back then. Reynolds and Minnelli are small-time Mexican coyotes who get mixed up with Hackman during a botched run. Needing cash and a quick ticket to America, the three inadvertently become volatile rum-runners which, through pure luck, they are pretty damn good at, making money hand over fist. The final sea-battle between disgruntled bootleggers, mob bosses and Coast Guard is an explosive, over-the-top extravaganza that, along with the whole bootlegging angle, foreshadows what Reynolds would do with Trans-Ams, semi-trucks and Coors in the Smokey and the Bandit flicks.