Jodorowsky's Dune

Jodorowsky's Dune ★★★★★

Sometimes word of mouth makes me rush to catch a film, and sometimes it makes me inexplicably averse to it. Best example: back in undergrad when I used Netflix's single-DVD service, I rented Fellini's 8 1/2 due to virtually the entire universe's recommendation. Every day I stared at that red and white envelope, considered putting it in the DVD player, then decided "No, I'm not in the mood." A year later they temporarily forked their snail-mail service (the notorious Kwikster incident) and I returned it, unwatched. $120 to rent an ineffective, guilt-tripping paperweight.

Jodorowsky's Dune was a film like that. Critics lauded it, friends called it one of their favorites of the year, articles gushed over the insanity of its story, and I could never bring myself to watch it. If I can't quite justify it, there are at least few contributing factors. For one, while I can respect Jodorowsky's audacity (my High School memory of watching El Topo at 3 in the morning can never be erased), he's definitely not my style. My associations of Dune (the abysmal film and only slightly less abysmal miniseries) were only worse. And the whole inside baseball, movies-about-movies thing just doesn't usually appeal to me: I expected it to be hiply cynical, putting weird-for-weird's-sake on a pedestal.

I'm so glad I gave this one a shot. It's as fantastic as the praise it's receiving and as hilarious/insane as those glowing articles described, but the thing that no one communicated to me was the sheer joy of its spirit. Not indie quirkiness, but unabashed, unshakable joy. Jodorowsky comes across as everyone's favorite wacky uncle; brimming with excitement, decidedly uncool, delightful. The accompanying visuals are astonishing, and the story it details (leading him through a maze of encounters with The Rolling Stones, Salvador Dali, and an almost-has-to-be-made-up-because-it's-just-that-good Orson Welles) is truly captivating. His films may be off-putting, high-concept pieces, but this documentary is as populist as they come. I don't know a single person who would dislike this. Don't let it sit on the shelf: you're in the mood to see it right now, I promise.

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