SXSW2014 – Starry Eyes/The Dance Of Reality

2014 March 15
by profwagstaff

Everything you are going to be, you already are. What you are looking for is already within you.

starry_eyes

STARRY EYES (2014)

Directed by: Kevin Kolsch/Dennis Widmyer
Written by: Kevin Kolsch/Dennis Widmyer

This was the midnighter that I was the least interested in…and it really ended up being the only one I saw. I’m sad about that, but I’m not sad that I saw this movie. It was much better than I thought it would be.

Sarah (Alex Essoe) is an actress. The fact that she works at a restaurant called Big Taters has nothing to do with her real life. (Although, her boss (Pat Healy) almost seems to want to be part of her real life.) She lives with another actress named Tracy (Amanda Fuller) who genuinely seems to care about her.

Some of her other friends, though, are a little on the fence. The girls are catty and the guys may just want to get her in bed…although, I think Danny (Noah Segan) is fairly genuine. They’re all “in the game,” so it’s a very competitive atmosphere.

Enter a creepy production company and their casting call. Sarah goes for it and bombs it. Then she has one of her “episodes” in the bathroom where she tears a little bit of her hair out. That’s how they notice her and call her back in to have an episode for them.

The second call, they ask her to take her clothes off. Not because the part calls for it, but “How can you change into something else when you’re not willing to go the whole way?” Of course, things just go downhill from there and Sarah starts to…turn.

With a serious feminist bent, Starry Eyes delves into the feelings of a young woman in a patriarchal society, and none is more patriarchal than the movie industry. When she meets the producer, it’s a shudder-worthy experience for everyone.

But the movie isn’t just a feminist rant. It’s also a good, solid horror film with some great fore effects. It may have helped if it had been more atmospheric and followed through with its early giallo intentions. (Those title cards are straight out of the 70s.) But it was still a very good film with some great acting across the board.
la_danza_de_la_realidad

THE DANCE OF REALITY (2013)

Directed by: Alejandro Jodorosky
Written by: Alejandro Jodorosky

Alejandro Jodorosky is quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers. It’s not because I love all of his films. Hell, I don’t truly understand El Topo or Holy Mountain…or Fondo Y Lis, for that matter. But I like the movies quite a bit and they’re fun to watch in their own surreal, fucked up way.

What makes me love him so much is the man himself. He is amazing. He’s had such a hard time getting his films made, but he still has the most positive outlook on working and life in general. So much so that he has basically started his own religion/philosophy.

At the end of his panel during the conference, he ended up giving out free hugs. That is how amazing this guy is.

The Dance Of Reality is the first of his films that I have actually loved wholeheartedly. It has such a life-affirming, positive message that, really, only he could have made it. It’s not the prettiest film (it was shot on pretty crappy video), but that’s not the point. I mean, the images are the message, but it doesn’t matter what they’re filmed on, only that they were recorded.

This is his most autobiographical film. It’s about his childhood in Chile during the fascist regime of Carlos Ibanes and his father’s attempts at changing things.

Young Alejandro (Jeremias Herskovitz) was born with long, flowing, blond hair, just like his grandfather. His mother (Pamela Flores) sings out his name and calls him “father.” (No, really. Every line she has is sung in operatic style.) She’s loving maybe to a point of smothering, but not always overbearingly so.

Alejandro’s father, on the other hand, has no idea how to love. Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky, Alejandro’s son and the young star of El Topo) is a hard, hard man. He sees no reason to love a son who is gentle and kind like Alejandro is. He cuts off the boy’s long hair (because he looks like a girl) and tells him that he will only respect him if he makes no sound when he’s tickled. Show no emotion and you’re a real man. Show emotion and you’re a woman and deserve no respect.

Sadly, it’s something many of us men can identify with.

As time goes on, Jaime and Alejandro bond, but the boy is always plagued with guilt over his emotions. At one point, he even contemplates jumping off a cliff.

This was, for me, the most poignant and heartwarming scene. Occasionally, the real Alejandro will appear as “Old Alejandro,” telling Young Alejandro that everything will be alright and that he is always with him. This scene is where he says the lines at the top of this page and basically tells him that “You are not out there. You are right here in your heart and your head. Don’t look out there for yourself. Look within.” I almost lost it right about there. That’s a very personal message for me and it made me feel so good to hear a filmmaker say it.

Eventually, Jaime goes off on his own. He leaves his family behind so that he can perform a “greater good.” One that he may not even be able to perform. His leaving changed nothing for the better. It only took him away from his family for a time that he will never get back.

Just so you don’t think that Jodorowsky has gone soft, this is still surrealist filmmaking at its finest. His imagery is still crazy, funny, thought provoking and just plain strange. There’s even a scat scene that…well…I could have done without it, honestly. It’s the only scene that I felt that way about, though.

The movie isn’t for everyone. I mean, it’s Jodorowsky. How could it be for everyone? But I still feel like everyone should see it. The message is so important that even people who would be turned off by it should see it. If you’ve ever felt like you shouldn’t need someone, you should see this movie. If you’ve ever felt like you’re so awful that you can’t come back from it, you should see this movie. It tells us that even the worst of us can become good. It also tells us that everyone needs someone and everyone needs to be needed. And that’s ok. In fact, that’s the way it should be.

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