Endless Poetry Is A Day At The Carnival
Review by Aaron Haughton
Endless Poetry is the latest film from cinema shaman Alejandro Jodorowsky. Technically a sequel (and the 2nd film in a reported pentalogy), though the film stands on its own quite nicely, it picks up after the events of The Dance of Reality and chronicles a young adult Alejandro Jodorowsky as he escapes his authoritarian father to embrace his true calling as a poet.
That's basically the gist of the story; however, like most everything Jodorowsky has ever produced, what would be a fairly straight forward narrative is both obscured and enriched by his dense surrealist imagery, visual metaphor, and deft poetics. The story is expectedly incoherent and meanders from kooky moment to moment like a traveling circus, ultimately imbuing the viewer with the joie de vivre felt by the filmmaker.
I don't think that Endless Poetry will bring any new fans over into Jodorowsky's corner, and I don't think it's a good jumping off point for curious newcomers either (start with El Topo), but it should be enough to please those Jodorowsky enthusiasts out there. Being an avid fan of the filmmaker, I found it pretty fascinating to see him wax lyrical on his past in such an honest and open manner. He even pops in throughout the film as both narrator and future self, giving his younger iterations beautiful pep talks and helping to pull the narrative from one carnivalesque scene to another.
There are many instances of this, but the scene below is far and away my favorite. "You are not guilty for living as you do. You'd be guilty if you lived as others want you to live." It's a beautiful sentiment that strikes me at the core, but Jodorowsky is never one to linger too long, and so the traveling circus continues.
The film is littered with fresh and wonderful Jodorowskyisms; a character who operatically sings dialogue instead of talking (which made me smile and laugh always); a streaker man with a fake boner who stops to grotesquely handle his package in front of our characters before vanishing; a huge drunken poetess muse with vibrant red hair and fur coat, who drinks 2 liter beers and knocks men out cold; the solemn gloom of Cafe Iris with its formally dressed elderly wait staff and its patrons passed out with heads on table; a man pouring paint on himself and hurling himself at canvases; an "ultrapianist" that bangs and tears a piano to shreds; and my personal favorite: a Nazi midget juxtaposed between a Nazi on stilts.
There's a couple of added layers to this film that haven't been present in any of Jodorowsky's previous work. For starters, Jodorowsky uses his oldest son, Brontis, to play his father in the film, and his youngest son, Adan, to play the young adult version of himself. If that weren't interesting enough, Jodorowsky also has Pamela Flores play both Jodorowsky's mother and muse, Stella (arguably the greatest character in the film, who screams "Bow before the vengeful vagina" before engaging in an epic brawl in a gay bar), which has some bizarre Freudian vibes, even for Jodorowsky.
Both Adan and Brontis give powerful, emotive performances, and even share the stage with their father for a heartfelt finale. Frankly, I was so floored by how well Adan played his father; he even has his antics and laugh down pat, which is showcased in the circus scene below:
This is a film of vibrancy and energy, poetic density and visual assault, things that ultimate defy definition and words. A polyblend of formalism, theater, and all things carnivalesque. Scenes of beauty are met with equal grotesquery and everything is counterbalanced with bizarre humor. By design, it's not supposed to make sense on a logical plane, but rather on an emotion or spiritual one. It's a fantastical, phantasmagorical retelling of actual events, presented in such a manner that only Jodorowsky can conjure.
Honestly, I could drone on about this film for awhile, but it would mean little to nothing to someone who hasn't yet seen the film or is unfamiliar with Jodorowsky's body of work, so I'll just cut myself off here.
Rating: 3.5 poetess muses out of 5.
What do you think? How does this rank amongst Jodorowsky's body of work? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!