How does one begin to describe Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo? The original midnight movie, the film is technically a western, but it takes a completely different direction from the expectations the term conjures up. It has the horses, the hats, the guns and the showdowns customary of the genre, but that's all. Everything else draws from Jodorowsky's endless imagination and proclivity for bizarre, surrealist imagery. There's a semblance of critique regarding society, religion and deification and the story is obviously allegorical, but I found the film aggressively provocative and unpleasant in its unrelenting bombardment of the viewer with its singular logic and plethora of vague symbolism.
I'm starting to slip more into the sub-category of surrealist art house, so let me step back a bit. With the art film, the assertion by those averse to it often falls in the range of "It's slow/boring/pretentious/ confusing/not my thing, etc."That's all well and good, but if what I've written here is any indication, perhaps the experience, with its quirks and confusions included, is what's really worthwhile. If film is only a way of passing the time for you, then I suppose it doesn't really matter what you watch, but for everyone else, why not take a chance on something different? I wasn't particularly enlightened by El Topo or A Field in England, but I richly recall both of them and each film offered an experience like no other. The odd generic blockbuster will fade from memory within days or hours, but even with a bad art film, there's something to chew on. I don't mean to preach or guilt you, dear reader. I mean only to champion more adventurous viewing. Like myself in some of these situations, you may not entirely "get it", but sometimes "getting it" isn't the most important thing. Give it a shot. Fear not the art house film.