Miguel Llansó’s Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway
Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway is a carefully blended mixture of styles and elements that seems at first to be nothing but chaos but slowly coalesces into a very strange gestalt. It feels like a Guy Madden film in its awkward artificial clunkiness, but it also contains elements of The Matrix, James Bond and Batman. It looks and smells like a comedy, but it isn’t, well it is, but it’s more a pastiche than a parody
Inside a virtual reality program called Psychobook, there are four Kung Fu masters made of equal parts Shaw Brothers movies and Mortal Combat avatars all battling it out in an effort to win the Arc of the Covenant for Stalin, or a man wearing a paper Stalin mask.
The CIA is determined to stop them. One of the CIA agents is named Palmer Eldrich. If not for this little hint I would have never realized that the film is loosely inspired by a Philip K. Dick novel called The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. The book is a disorienting, hallucinogenic, science fiction novel about a man who invents and markets a hallucinogen that will enable someone to mentally project themselves into a doll. The dolls are just like barbies. You can buy cars, penthouses, and little dogs to dress up in little dog sweaters. Desperate miners working like slaves on Mars crave the drug and the dolls as their only diversion from their plight. It’s an incredible book that could only come from an author like Dick.
Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway also features an hallucinogenic drug called “the substance” that has some secret use. The specifics of the film and plot matter less than how all the elements clash and bounce off each other. The film is a bingo hooper of strange ingredients spitting out bizarre combinations for the audience to consider. What if the 8-bit world of 80s apple computers met a stoner version of Jesus on Facebook?
The director, Miguel Llansó has described himself as punk, experimental and many other things but above all post-colonial seems the most apt. The movie was filmed in Spain, Estonia, Ethiopia, Latvia, and Romania. Llansó is from Spain but often works in Ethiopia. He is a gatherer of cultural detritus. Picture him like one of those giant magnetic claws hanging over the world looking to grab a heap of symbols, products, ideologies, and garbage which will be fed into a blender with a bottle of Torres. Make that two bottles.
The resulting smoothy might not be very smooth or appetizing, but it’s interesting to imagine what an Atari game console, Batman, and Jesus would taste like in liquid form and whether it might reveal something about the ingredients. It doesn’t have to make sense it just has to be interesting.
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