• Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: September 15th, 2020.
    Director: Miguel Llansó
    Cast: Daniel Tadesse, Agustín Mateo, Guillermo Llansó, Solomon Tashe, Gerda-Annette Allikas
    Year: 2019
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    Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway – Movie Review:

    Shot between Ethiopia, Estonia, Latvia and Spain, director Miguel Llansó’s 2019 picture, Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway, is a trip. Set in the future of 2035, the picture introduces us to Special Agent Gagano (Daniel Tadesse), a man with a deformity who works for the government but yearns to quit his job and start his own business with his wife, Malin (Gerda-Annette Allikas).

    Just around the time that Gagano decides he’s going to quit the intelligence business once and for all, the C.I.A.’s operating system, Psychobook, is attacked by a virus dubbed ‘Soviet Union’ (which takes on the form of an animated Josef Stalin!) which results in Gagano having to literally enter cyberspace and do battle with whatever it is that has launched said attack via virtual reality dubbed ‘Betta Ethiopia.’ As Gagano does what he can to put a stop to the threat, the virus manages to escape from the computer network into the physical world where it sets about wreaking havoc with an already unstable political system. Gagano, however, remains trapped in the strange virtual reality he entered and, in a race against time, needs to find a way out while he still can, even if he could be ruler of this virtual land!

    Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway really is a unique picture, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Leading man Daniel Tadesse is a pretty amazing choice for the lead, making his way through all of this insanity with gusto and lending his decidedly unique screen presence to the film in a big way. The supporting players all do fine work as well but Tadesse is the real star here, and Llansó’s smart enough to just let him do his thing. It’s great to a lead role cast this way, Tadesse is genuinely a hunchbacked dwarf and as such, a very atypical choice to play a C.I.A. agent, but he pulls it off.

    A remarkably bizarre but thoroughly entertaining blend of science fiction, twisted social commentary and flat out surrealism, Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway is an interesting and frequently very experimental genre mash up. Blending all manner of pop culture references (Batman is in this, sort of!) with religious allegories aplenty and loads of barbed takes on the world’s political climate, it’s a gutsy and ambitious film and one of those pictures where creativity and sheer determination really do go a long way. It’s all remarkably bizarre and you definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate it (it would be all too easy to hit ‘sensory overload’ pretty quickly with this film if you weren’t quite prepared for it!) but all in all, Llansó proves himself a fascinating talent and a filmmaker definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future.

    Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway – Blu-ray Review:

    Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1, but also at 1.41.1 sometimes. The film uses different aspect ratios and different materials – some was shot digitally, some on film stock – to create a specific look, and it works. Transfer quality is excellent, detail is always very strong and colors look fantastic. There are no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement and the strong bit rate keeps compression issues in check.

    English audio options are available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 Stereo, both in 24-bit encoding, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Again, no problems to report, the audio here is nice and clean and clear, properly balanced throughout the duration of the film.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in this set as follows.

    Disc One:

    A new audio commentary by critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Anton Bitel offers up some welcome information about Miguel Llansó’s work, detailing the filmmaker’s background and offering up plenty of insight into the feature attraction. Along with the standard trivia about who did what and how they did it, we also get some good discussion about and analysis of the feature itself. It makes for an interesting listen. At seventy-one-minutes in length, it’s a pretty brisk picture that tells the story of Candy (Daniel Tadesse), a man who lives in a wasteland of sorts and dreams of a better life for he and his lady friend Birdy (Selam Tesfaye). Candy is concerned that the spaceship above them is up to no good, and is concerned that some of the ball returns machines in the bowling alley they call home are operating under their own power. Candy hopes for help from a shaman but is told that he needs to travel across the country to find Santa Claus, who will surely know what to do. As you’d imagine, it’s a bizarre film but it’s another interesting turn for Tadesse in the lead and very well-directed and put together.

    From Talinn with Love is a new visual essay by critic Will Webb that runs fourteen-minutes and takes a look at the different exploitation films that worked their way into influencing Miguel Llansó’s work on Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway. Webb makes some interesting connections here and this piece proves to be quite entertaining.

    Also on disc one is an audio interview with director Miguel Llansó, conducted by critic Josh Hurtado, that runs just short of twenty-six-minutes in length and which plays out over excerpts from the feature itself. It’s a good talk, causal and listenable but also quite informative.

    Disc Two:

    The biggest extra on the second disc is the inclusion of Crumbs, Miguel Llansó s feature directorial debut from 2015 and a ‘spiritual predecessor to Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway.’ It’s presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with Amharic language audio in DTS-HD 4.1 and LPCM 2.0 stereo and optional English subtitles. It’s a very nice presentation, the movie looks and sounds great.

    On top of that, Arrow has included two of Llansó’s early short films, the twelve-minute Chigger Ale from 2013 and the seven-minute Night in the Wild Garden from 2015. Both of these are fairly odd and experimental in many ways but it’s cool to have them included here so that we can get a feel for his roots as a filmmaker and to see how much he’s grown in that regard over the years.

    Rounding out the extras on the second disc is an original proof-of-concept trailer, a theatrical trailer and an image gallery. Menus and chapter selection options are provide on both discs.

    Arrow also scores full marks for providing some impressive packaging for this release. Not only do we get a slick slipcover but we also get some very nice reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Austin Hinderliter. Inside the case, alongside the two discs, is adouble-sided fold-out poster as well as an excellent limited edition full color illustrated collector's booklet that features an essay on Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway by Barry Forshaw and a piece on Crumbs by Anton Bitel as well as credits for the movies and the Blu-ray release as well as some technical notes.

    Note that this two disc edition is limited to 2000 copies.

    Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway – The Final Word:

    Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway is excellent all the way around, presenting the feature in great shape and with a host of extras, highlighted by a second disc compiling the director’s earlier efforts. Highly recommended to those with a taste for the bizarre!

    Click on the images below for full sized Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway Blu-ray screen caps!