IN THEATERS (SF) – “Endless Poetry”

Endless Poetry (2017; Dir.: Alejandro Jodorowsky)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, July 21, at the Landmark Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.

Full disclosure: I have not seen Jodorowsky’s 2014 comeback film The Dance of Reality, the spiritual successor to this semi-autobiographical fantasy, so feel free to disregard my take on Endless Poetry accordingly.  That previous film covered Jodorowsky’s youth in Chile, while this fever dream follow-up examines his coming-of-age, his separation from his family, and his immersion in a world of outrageous bohemian artists and poets.  As should be expected from Jodorowsky, the film practically swoons with magi-delic realism, vicious satire and fourth-wall perversions, and he clearly feels liberated by the intimacy and logistics of digital cinema.  The mix of vulgarity and spirituality, of affectionate freak show and savage political theater, is pure Jodorowsky, and you can feel his restless invention swirling through every scene: the mother sings all of her dialogue; “invisible” stagehands rearrange the scenery; Alejandro (played by Adan Jodorowsky, the director’s son) ages from boy to man overnight; a midget dressed as Hitler declares “war on high prices.”  Of course, there is an inescapable narcissism at the heart of the project, and enthusiasm for Endless Poetry will vary based on pre-existing enthusiasm for Jodorowsky and his works.  It gets a little tiresome at two hours, but the energy and invention emanating from behind the camera, as well as a welcome streak of absurdist physical comedy, are enough to hold your interest throughout.