Directed by Miguel Llansó
Written by Miguel Llansó
Starring Daniel Tadesse, Guillermo Llansó, Augustín Mateo, Gerda-Annette Allikas
If you happen to follow the generated buzz of the international film festival circuit, you’re probably already aware of the Estonia-based Spanish filmmaker Miguel Llansó and his first film Crumbs. His second film certainly isn’t afraid to embrace a much longer title, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, and Llansó himself is equally at ease revealing the inner workings of his bubbling brain with his crazy, overstimulated version of a spy thriller. Luckily, for those that want to risk having their minds shaken and stirred, the Arrow Video Channel is now showcasing Llansó’s latest head trip, giving you one more reason to check out a free 30-day trial through Apple TV in the UK & US and Amazon in the UK.
Set in a playground world in the midst of a technological Cold War, CIA agents Lieutenant Palmer Eldritch and his faithful sidekick D.T. Gagano (Tadesse) must enter a stop motion virtual reality realm to stop a computer virus created by an evil international hacker known only as General Stalin. Mysteriously, Agent Gagano becomes trapped inside the system while his actual body remains comatose back in the “real” world. With the help of a coke-snorting crime-fighter named Batfro and a universe-hopping hippie who thinks he’s Jesus, Gagano must rescue himself and the fate of the globe from certain doom.
In recent years, Ethiopian born actor Daniel Tadesse has become something of an underground icon and, if the two continue working together, Miguel Llansó has probably found his muse much like Scorsese developed a special bond with DeNiro. Tadesse’s unique onscreen appearance fits right inside the Nollywood inspired aesthetic of Llansó’s vision making this fully animated, hypothetical landscape a little more accessible. As the film’s lead, Tadesse has that unexplainable X factor that makes him easy to watch; but the reason he’s so electric is due in large part to the world that Llansó builds around him.
Touching on epic Greek themes found in The Iliad and the feeling of displacement explored in more straightforward Afrofuturist films, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway has a lot of ideas to ingest along with its comical setup and whacked-out visuals. The story exists on two levels – the real and the virtual – just as the larger, global realities and fears of international politics and catastrophic computer viruses rub up against the more obscene and ridiculous parts of such an absurdist tale. What makes Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway unique is Llansó’s insistence on making movies inside his own personal sandbox; and he doesn’t really care if you’re ready to play or not.
If you can’t find something to love inside of Miguel Llansó’s first English-language film, you’re probably just not a fan of experimental dystopian Afro-futurist kung fu science fiction spy thrillers. And it’s perfectly okay if you just want to watch all of those things one at at time.