Review: ‘Endless Poetry’

dfn-endless-poetry-300During an early scene of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s highly fanciful (and autobiographical) Endless Poetry, a drunkard stumbles into the young Jodorowsky (played by Jeremias Herskovitz) in the street and tells him “a naked virgin will illuminate your path with a blazing butterfly!”

In most films, this declaration would most likely serve as its punchline of poetic pretentiousness. In Jodorowsky’s capable hands, it becomes the mantra of a film not afraid to veer down a frenetic and strangely moving tale of self awakening and personal acceptance.

Serving as a literal continuation of his previous film, The Dance of Reality (2013), Endless Poetry begins where that film left off, with young Jodorowsky and his parents — father (embodied by Jodorowsky’s own son Brontis) and soprano line-singing mother (Pamela Flores) — moving from their hometown to the violent urban landscape of Santiago, Chile. In fact, it’s so violent that young Jodorowsky is late to his father’s shop one day when a man is stabbed and dies on the street in front of him. Complete with intestinal guts falling from his stomach, the young children on the street immediately rob him of his shoes and rings, running off laughing. Yes, this is the macabre, hyper-real world of a Jodorowsky film, all right.

After a first half that deals with teenager Jodorowsky eventually fleeing the overbearing, restrictive whims of his father and meeting a group of artists squatting in a flat, the second half explodes into a fantastical reminiscence of experiences and feelings as the now adult Jodorowsky (played by his youngest son, Adan) finds his place in the world as a struggling poet.

Along with that beatnick style of life comes a muse he meets in an all-night cafe named Stella, also played by Flores, which opens all avenues of the Oedipal complex that great literature loves to exploit. With violet hair and a half-painted body of greens, yellows and reds like a Spanish John Waters creation, it’s her tough-heartedness that pushes Jodorowsky into his newly discovered lust for adulthood.

Then there’s the friendship he forges with volatile artist Enrique (Leandro Taub) and a host of other fringe people in Chilean society. It’s with these connections, vividly remembered and embodied by Jodorowsky extras, that Endless Poetry almost defies narrative logic. It’s a film that exists in a sort of baroque netherworld of artificial sets, garish colors and elongated emotions.

It’s also a feverish attempt to excise the flowing memories and images that have inundated Jodorowsky’s midnight/cult films since the 1960’s. See the segue as young Jodorowsky joins the circus as a powder-farting clown. Or the tenuous bond he forms with the little-person girlfriend of his friend. Personal, reductive and even childishly loopy at times, Endless Poetry is nothing but boring.

Supposedly only the second installment of a five-film experiment that Jodorowsky hopes to create as an autobiographical set, it’s clear the man has lived an exuberant life. Half of this stuff may be made up or pulled from substance-enhanced episodes, but either way, Jodorowsky is a filmmaker who intertwines the personal with the magnificent quite unlike any other. I hope we get to see all five.

Endless Poetry will begin a limited run on Friday, July 21 at the Texas Theatre. Check for details.