ENDLESS POETRY (POESIA SIN FIN) (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2016)
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston St. between First & Second Aves.
Opens Friday, July 14
Eccentric auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky, the mastermind behind such midnight-movie classics as 1971’s El Topo and 1973’s The Holy Mountain, once again turns his magical realist eye on his own life as a young poet in Chile in the 1940s in Endless Poetry, picking up where he left off in the autobiographical saga he began in 2013’s The Dance of Reality, his first film in more than two decades. Starting with his family’s departure from the village of Tocopilla for the big city of Santiago, where Jodorowsky’s father, Jaime (Brontis Jodorowsky), opened a clothing shop, the film quickly dispenses with any pretense of realist narrative as it explodes into a phantasmagoric bildungsroman, shot in eye-popping color by master Hong Kong cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, Last Life in the Universe). With one son, Brontis, playing his father; another son, musician Adan, playing Alejandro as a young man (he also composed the score); his grandson, Jeremías Herskovits, portraying him as a boy (Alejandrito); and occasional appearances by himself as . . . himself, interacting with his onscreen/offscreen family, Alejandro mixes time, space, and storytelling with a strong dose of the psychotherapeutic and shamanic blend he calls Psychomagic. To further the incestuous casting, Sara, his mother, and Stella Díaz Varín, his muse and lover, are played by the same actress, opera singer Pamela Flores, while his circle of friends, most of whom went on to become respected poets (Leandro Taub as the wild and crazy Enrique Lihn, Flores as Diaz Varín, Felipe Rios as Nicanor Parra), clowns, near-döppelgangers, little people (Julia Avendaño is a stand-out as Pequeñita), masked skeletons and devils, sex and nudity, and exuberant tarot card readers tumble off the screen in this disturbing, often surreal, but somehow endearing and engaging tale of the artist as a young man, searching for the meaning of his life as well as life in general.
Reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s semiautobiographical Oscar-winning Amarcord, Endless Poetryis one of Jodorowsky’s most approachable works, centering on the familiar Romantic struggle of a young male artist coming-of-age against his petit bourgeois family and oppressive society, represented here by the rise of real-life dictator Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (Bastián Bodenhofer). A sly sense of humor and fondness for his youthful follies and friends brighten the proceedings, as does the spectacular production design by Alejandro himself. The final scenes of young Jodorowsky’s departure for Paris demonstrate that this old master still has the power to move an audience with strange and beautiful images that shock and unsettle — especially if one knows exactly how intertwined the relationships of the actors are with the characters they play. Endless Poetry opens July 14 at the Landmark Sunshine, with Alejandro participating in Q&As after the 7:00 show and before the 10:00 show on opening night and with Adan following the 7:00 show on July 15.