‘End­less Poetry’: Di­rec­tor Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky, in a di­a­logue with him­self

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - KICKOFF - Pho­tos and text from wire ser­vices

In the fear­less, un­pre­dictable cin­ema of Chilean-born di­rec­tor Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky, you will find: a cou­ple who con­verse with­out open­ing their mouths; a room full of peo­ple who sud­denly break out in a mys­te­ri­ous dance; a woman who in­sists on hold­ing her young lover’s gen­i­tals as they walk to­gether through town. His lat­est film, the au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal “End­less Poetry,” is no less dream­like — or strange.

“Poetry” picks up the com­ing-ofage story be­gun in Jodor­owsky’s “The Dance of Re­al­ity.” As in that 2013 film, which was some­thing of a come­back for Jodor­owsky, the film­maker’s adult son Bron­tis - who, as a boy, ap­peared naked in his fa­ther’s 1970 cult clas­sic “El Topo” — plays the di­rec­tor’s abu­sive fa­ther. Opera singer Pamela Flores reprises her role as Jodor­owsky’s mother, Sara, while also por­tray­ing Jodor­owsky’s out­ra­geous older lover, poet Stella Díaz Varín.

As Sara, Flores sings all of her lines — a gim­mick that didn’t quite work in “Dance,” which was Jodor­owsky’s first film in 23 years. The de­vice is bet­ter suited to “Poetry,” which rev­els in its op­er­atic sur­re­al­ism with more con­fi­dence — and suc­cess — than the ear­lier film.

Im­me­di­ately im­mers­ing the au­di­ence in its dis­tinc­tive aes­thetic, “Poetry” opens with young Ale­jan­dro (Jeremias Her­skovits) and his par­ents de­part­ing from their home in To­copilla for San­ti­ago, as their ship pulls away from a pier crowded with black-and-white card­board cutouts of the peo­ple they’re leav­ing be­hind. As in “Dance,” Jodor­owsky him­self ap­pears on cam­era, guid­ing his younger self as a child and, later, as a young man (played by Jodor­owsky’s son Adan). De­fy­ing a re­pres­sive fa­ther who ar­gues that all artists are ho­mo­sex­u­als, young Ale­jan­dro writes florid verse, fall­ing in with such Chilean po­ets as Diaz, En­rique Lihn (Le­an­dro Taub) and Ni­canor Parra (Felipe Rios).

Con­fronting his own past — lit­er­ally — Jodor­owsky has writ­ten a script that tends to fever­ish di­a­logue, even if much of it oc­curs be­tween dif­fer­ent ver­sions of him­self. In the role of his own fa­ther, Adan Jodor­owsky asks, “What is the mean­ing of life?” To which, Jodor­owsky, in the role of guide, ur­gently replies: “Life! The brain asks ques­tions. The heart gives the an­swers.” In lesser hands, such a plat­i­tude would likely land with a maudlin thud. But Jodor­owsky sells it with his en­thu­si­asm and un­in­hib­ited per­son­al­ity. He shares those qual­i­ties with the en­tire cast, many of whom - in­clud­ing his two sons - have no qualms about ex­pos­ing their less than per­fect bod­ies to the cam­era.

Now 88, Jodor­owsky’s au­tum­nal resur­gence was spurred by “Jodor­owsky’s Dune,” a 2013 doc­u­men­tary in which the di­rec­tor proved him­self to be a charm­ing and gre­gar­i­ous racon­teur when talk­ing about his some­times im­pen­e­tra­ble films. While “End­less Poetry” is far from con­ven­tional, it nev­er­the­less man­ages to trans­late some of that breath­less sto­ry­telling into a movie whose im­ages are dis­turb­ing but never bor­ing. Tinged with mad­ness and heart­break, “End­less Poetry” is the un­mis­tak­able byprod­uct of, as the char­ac­ter of Ale­jan­dro puts it, “a heart ca­pa­ble of lov­ing the en­tire world.”

SATORI FILMS-ABKCO

Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky, right, tells an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal tale in which the film­maker guides his own story and es­sen­tially ad­vises him­self at dif­fer­ent stages of his life.

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