Endless Poetry 18
Rightio. Where to begin? Alejandro Jodorowksy has done a Terrence Malick of late – nothing for ages and then a sudden burst of creativity: Endless Poetry is his second in three years but only his third since 1990's The Rainbow Thief. This nutso autobiographical exploration of the writer-director's younger years (he plays himself as a narrator but son Adan does a lot of heavy lifting) is, lazy cliché incoming Fellini's Amarcord… on acid! It's Giuseppe Tornatore's nostalgia filtered through a dream.
In fairness to the El Topo director he sets his stall out early. A follow up to 2013's Dance of Reality, Jodorowksy drops the viewer into 1940s Santiago where a young Alejandro (first played by Jeremias Herskovits and later by Jodorowsky's son, Adan) reels from the violence he witnesses on the rough streets. The population wear masks, feral kids roam about, the backdrops and vehicles are cardboard cut-outs, there are SS men on stilts and dwarf Hitler impersonators; mother Sara (Pamela Flores) sings her dialogue, the only one unaware that this isn't a musical.
His father, shop owner Jaime (played by the director's fifty-four year old son Brontis), is as much a bully as the gangsters on the streets, stripping a waif in public when he catches her stealing and encouraging the young Alejandro to kick her accomplice Sweeney-style when he lies prone on the ground. Alejandro dreams of being a poet, but his brutish father encourages him to be a doctor. The would-be bard then falls in with Santiago's artistic underground and thereafter enjoys a series of surreal misadventures.
There's a lot of bizarre material here but Jodorowksy does what he can to keep the narrative shining through despite the weird tangents his film is prone to veer into; there's always a sense that Jodorowksy is in control but then around the midpoint (whatever that is here) he seems to lose his grip. The story becomes more episodic, the pace begins to drag and the audience’s understanding of what Alejandro is after is diluted somewhat. The dialogue too becomes more abstract: "A naked virgin will illuminate your path with a blazing butterfly."
Review by Gavin Burke | 17:08 | Thursday 22nd December 2016 | Movie Review