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Endless Poetry, very much a picture show

Jodorowsky’s juvenalia journal

Endless Poetry: Portrait of the artist as an angelic sad clown surrounded by devils and the dead
Endless Poetry: Portrait of the artist as an angelic sad clown surrounded by devils and the dead

With Endless Poetry, Chilean surrealist (super-realist?) Alejandro Jodorowsky continues the fantastical memoir he began in 2013’s Dance of Reality. But where that first film made a tragic-absurdist hero out of young Alejandro’s father — he of the fierce countenance, fierce idealism, and fierce notion of what a man must be to survive in this corrupt and savage world — Poetry necessarily casts him as the villain.

Movie

Endless Poetry <em>(Poesia Sin Fin)</em> **

thumbnail

Chilean surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky continues the fantastical memoir he began in 2013’s <em>The Dance of Reality</em>. But where that first film made a tragic-absurdist hero out of young Alejandro’s fierce father, <em>Poetry</em> necessarily casts him as the villain. Alejandro must come of age, and that means breaking with Dad and his cramped dream of My Son the Doctor. Alejandro will become a <em>poet</em>, no matter how many times the giant, disembodied head of his father calls him a faggot. In the process, he will put the axe to the family tree, and not in any sort of metaphorical fashion. Because if you’re going to tell the standard story of the young, misunderstood artist, it helps to make it this self-consciously overblown and literal. It’s an entertaining trick for conveying the urgency and significance that the individual feels even as he starts down the well-worn path. At times, it’s tempting to dismiss the frequently silly goings on as an exercise in profound self-indulgence. But by the time Alejandro confronts his father on the docks just before his own expatriation, it occurs that self-indulgence is sort of the point, and that it just might be in the service of something that is actually, simply profound. Jodorowsky is dramatizing his life, just like everybody else does.

Find showtimes

Alejandro must come of age, and that means breaking with Dad and his cramped dream of My Son the Doctor. Alejandro will not participate in capitalism’s brutality toward the desperate and small. He will not live to come home and count his money. Alejandro will become a poet, no matter how many times the giant, disembodied head of his father calls him a faggot (though he is relieved to discover that another man’s kiss does not arouse him). In the process, he will put the axe to the family tree, and not in any sort of metaphorical fashion. Because if you’re going to tell the standard story of the young, misunderstood artist, it helps to make it this self-consciously overblown and literal.

It’s an entertaining trick for conveying the urgency and significance that the individual feels even as he starts down the well-worn path: It doesn’t matter that others have rebelled in the exact same way. What matters is that I am rebelling.

So, yes, the viewer will have to put up with silliness like the prophecy that “a naked virgin will illuminate your path with a blazing butterfly,” and poetry being described as “the luminous excrement of a toad,” and — oh, yes — a plethora of pudenda. But there is also the intense and faintly hilarious search for a muse, the young artist’s discovery that even anti-establishment types have their established hierarchies, and the painful realization that not all morality is bourgeois convention, all presented amid a riot of visual invention. (This is very much a picture show.) There’s even an appearance or two from Old Man Jodorowsky, advising his younger self on matters such as the meaning of life.

At times, it’s tempting to dismiss the goings on as an exercise in profound self-indulgence. But by the time Alejandro confronts his father on the docks just before his own expatriation, it occurs that self-indulgence is sort of the point and that it just might be in the service of something that is actually, simply profound. Jodorowsky is dramatizing his life, just like everybody else does.

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Endless Poetry: Portrait of the artist as an angelic sad clown surrounded by devils and the dead
Endless Poetry: Portrait of the artist as an angelic sad clown surrounded by devils and the dead

With Endless Poetry, Chilean surrealist (super-realist?) Alejandro Jodorowsky continues the fantastical memoir he began in 2013’s Dance of Reality. But where that first film made a tragic-absurdist hero out of young Alejandro’s father — he of the fierce countenance, fierce idealism, and fierce notion of what a man must be to survive in this corrupt and savage world — Poetry necessarily casts him as the villain.

Movie

Endless Poetry <em>(Poesia Sin Fin)</em> **

thumbnail

Chilean surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky continues the fantastical memoir he began in 2013’s <em>The Dance of Reality</em>. But where that first film made a tragic-absurdist hero out of young Alejandro’s fierce father, <em>Poetry</em> necessarily casts him as the villain. Alejandro must come of age, and that means breaking with Dad and his cramped dream of My Son the Doctor. Alejandro will become a <em>poet</em>, no matter how many times the giant, disembodied head of his father calls him a faggot. In the process, he will put the axe to the family tree, and not in any sort of metaphorical fashion. Because if you’re going to tell the standard story of the young, misunderstood artist, it helps to make it this self-consciously overblown and literal. It’s an entertaining trick for conveying the urgency and significance that the individual feels even as he starts down the well-worn path. At times, it’s tempting to dismiss the frequently silly goings on as an exercise in profound self-indulgence. But by the time Alejandro confronts his father on the docks just before his own expatriation, it occurs that self-indulgence is sort of the point, and that it just might be in the service of something that is actually, simply profound. Jodorowsky is dramatizing his life, just like everybody else does.

Find showtimes

Alejandro must come of age, and that means breaking with Dad and his cramped dream of My Son the Doctor. Alejandro will not participate in capitalism’s brutality toward the desperate and small. He will not live to come home and count his money. Alejandro will become a poet, no matter how many times the giant, disembodied head of his father calls him a faggot (though he is relieved to discover that another man’s kiss does not arouse him). In the process, he will put the axe to the family tree, and not in any sort of metaphorical fashion. Because if you’re going to tell the standard story of the young, misunderstood artist, it helps to make it this self-consciously overblown and literal.

It’s an entertaining trick for conveying the urgency and significance that the individual feels even as he starts down the well-worn path: It doesn’t matter that others have rebelled in the exact same way. What matters is that I am rebelling.

So, yes, the viewer will have to put up with silliness like the prophecy that “a naked virgin will illuminate your path with a blazing butterfly,” and poetry being described as “the luminous excrement of a toad,” and — oh, yes — a plethora of pudenda. But there is also the intense and faintly hilarious search for a muse, the young artist’s discovery that even anti-establishment types have their established hierarchies, and the painful realization that not all morality is bourgeois convention, all presented amid a riot of visual invention. (This is very much a picture show.) There’s even an appearance or two from Old Man Jodorowsky, advising his younger self on matters such as the meaning of life.

At times, it’s tempting to dismiss the goings on as an exercise in profound self-indulgence. But by the time Alejandro confronts his father on the docks just before his own expatriation, it occurs that self-indulgence is sort of the point and that it just might be in the service of something that is actually, simply profound. Jodorowsky is dramatizing his life, just like everybody else does.

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