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By : Lou Collier

4 min read

EL TOPO • 1970 • dir Alejandro Jorodowsky • Coolidge Corner Theater, September 9, midnight

PEARL • 2022 • dir Ti West • Apple Cinemas, releases September 16

During its initial run, El Topo played only one theater, The Elgin in New York City, exclusively at midnight, relying on word of mouth to slowly build an audience over the course of a year. This is generally agreed upon to be the beginning of the midnight movie phenomenon, and The Elgin continued this novelty release strategy with several other films in the 70s, most notably Pink Flamingos. This month at the Coolidge, viewers can experience El Topo the way its original devotees did; on film at a midnight screening. El Topo is a Mexican acid Western about a gunfighter’s violent quest for enlightenment. A plot synopsis wouldn’t do it justice, but the film’s quasi-religious mix of sex, violence, and dream logic is captured well in the original 4-minute theatrical trailer (which I recommend watching on YouTube). The trailer itself is a bizarre work of art, and opens with the narrator calmly announcing, “Be prepared to live the most wonderful experience of your life.” Definitely a big claim for a movie advertisement, but even if it doesn’t end up being the most wonderful experience of your life, it will certainly be one of the most memorable screenings you’ll attend.

Pearl, the prequel to the 70s-era porno slasher film X, is my second September recommendation, though I haven't seen it yet. However, I enjoyed X (which was released in March of this year) and was crazy about Mia Goth’s dual performances in it. I’m excited for Pearl based on how great Goth was in X, playing both Maxine, a young porn star, and Pearl, an elderly serial killer. The new film will be the origin story of the murderous Pearl, showing her as a young woman obsessed with becoming a movie star. If you do see Pearl, I suggest catching it at Apple Cinemas in Cambridge (though it will probably play all over Boston). It has the cozy ambiance of an old-school mall theater, plus tickets are $4.75 on Tuesdays. I always end up there because it somehow makes moviegoing feel like a no-brainer throwaway experience, which I think is generally what it used to feel like.

—Lou Collier

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #150 September 2022


Check out all the art and columns of September's Boston Compass at



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