I moved to Philadelphia in August of 1999. Less than twenty four hours into living here I walked into the TLA Video location at Fourth and South Streets and several hours later had a job there. I was instructed my first day that I would be responsible for choosing five or so movies a month to be my ’employee picks’- movies that showed off the varied tastes of store employees and better yet, encouraged movies that may have fallen through the cracks to be rented and to hopefully make a little more money from them.
That’s the first time I came across the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky; TLA was known for having hard to find/out of print movies and at that point in time, all of his films qualified. Every month a different staffer seemed to pick a film from Jodorowsky’s upsettingly limited catalog; El Topo, The Holy Mountain, The Rainbow Thief and Santa Sangre moving up and down the shelves- each picked by a different person to represent the best of what our collection had to offer.
My first viewing of El Topo left me perplexed. An Eastern Western? I freely admit I didn’t ‘get it’.
I put The Holy Mountain on next and fell in love. Followed by The Rainbow Thief and Santa Sangre. Each film complimenting the next. He quickly became my favorite filmmaker.
His films mixed Eastern philosophy, the Tarot, Jewish mysticism and Panic to create something that transcended even art house cinema; a pure example of filmed magic.
Three of his best- El Topo, The Holy Mountain and Santa Sangre are now available on blu-ray video. These are the cleanest presentations of his film that have ever been available. Truly worth the upgrade even if you have the standard 480 dvd versions.