There are certain directors whose new movies should be cause for jubilation. One of them, without any argument, should be the legendary cult Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. Once the premiere filmmaker for the beautiful philosophies and absurdities one would associate with the surreal (and predating those like David Lynch and Nicolas Winding Refn, who Jodorowsky would eventually become a mentor of sorts to) with films like El Topo and Santa Sangre, Jodorowsky took an extended period of time off after his last film The Rainbow Thief took a harsh toll on him. When it seemed he would only be a fixture on the Q&A circuit, in 2013, Jodorowsky made an audaciously triumphant return with The Dance of Reailty (La danza de la realidad), the first in a multi-part autobiography of sorts mixing philosophies and styles together. As the second entry in the anthological series, Endless Poetry (Poesía sin fin) demonstrates, the story’s really getting fired up and the man behind the camera is still firing on all cylinders.
Beginning immediately where the introductory title ended – a family standing on a small boat heading into an uncertain future as cardboard cutouts of the people they’ve interacted with “wave” goodbye – the Jodorowskys have relocated from their home of Tocopilla to the Chilean capital of Santiago, where father Jaime (played again by Jodorowsky’s eldest son Brontis) has demonstrated the empathy he discovered in his earlier endeavors was short lived when he subjects two diminutive customers to an especially demeaning abuse outside his shoe store early on, something that carries over into his daily family life. Young Alejandro (also returning is Brontis’s son Jeremias Herskovits to play his grandfather as a younger man) has come to that point all youths reach in life where he’s ready to break away from his father’s near tyrannical ideals of life and lead what he feels destined for.
Fate, and the advice of the director himself, lends a helping hand in the form of a book of Federico García Lorca’s poems, scratching the itch this artistry has left Alejandro with. Jaime, refusing to let his son grow up to become a maricon (you’ll have to look the meaning up on that one for yourselves), forbids the pursuit and demands his son become a doctor in the only way he knows how: harsh intimidation and a psychological effect that’s one of the film’s most visually comedic set pieces. Alejandro’s response: to run away from home, boarding with a group of performers and artists who help him navigate his burgeoning adulthood and what lies ahead on the road to becoming a great poet. As a young adult – beautifully played by Jodorowsky’s youngest son Adan, also serving as the film’s composer – a voyage of adulthood is charted through the bastions of life that will define the man Alejandro becomes, both on and off camera.
First off, homage is demanded for Jodorowsky. Much like its predecessor, Endless Poetry, with such a beautifully opulence and absurdity that ranks with the very best of his oeuvre, is well on its way to becoming part of one of the most ambitious experiments ever committed to narrative film. The idea of an artist using his preferred medium to explore their backstory and those events that shaped their lives is not unheard of, but Jodorowsky, well into his 88th year and armed with quite the storied life, is railroading past the set expectations and, thankfully, showing no signs of stopping. Armed with the lush imagery of legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the exaggerated yet meticulously crafted costumes designed by his wife Pascale and his own stylish reimagining of 1940s Santiago, Jodorowsky’s vision is quite the whimsical experience that further reflects his place as one of international cinema’s most foremost artists.
But there is also the darkness that humanity’s penchant for whimsy is intertwined by, both from the the threat of the changing political climate to the behaviors of close friends and family. A good portion of the film where Alejandro discovers his sexuality, after earlier acknowledging his own heterosexuality at the cost of a friendship with a lovelorn cousin who ultimately comes to a less than whimsical fate, when taking tempestuous poet Stella Díaz Varín as his lover goes to be one of Endless Poetry’s most meditative and provocative sequences. Not because of some deeply philosophical idea about poetry and art broached by the story, but Jodorowsky’s decision to have Pamela Flores, the same actress playing Alejandro’s musically oriented mother Sara (which she also reprises here), play Varín. Much like The Dance of Reality, there’s a certain life that comes to Endless Poetry when Ms. Flores is on-screen, be it as mother or “whore.” Here, with her vibrant crimson locks, theatrical outfits and Fellini-esque tattoos and body paints, it is the embodiment of white-hot passion, rage, jealousy and a perverse beauty that will no doubt inform Alejandro’s talents as poet and inevitable filmmaker.
Once Varín leaves the picture, Alejandro’s relationships with poets like Enrique Lihn (Leandro Taub) and Nicanor Parra (Felipe Ríos) come to be as tempestuous as the ones built on love for their conflicting natures and ideals. The former is constantly undermined by the decisions he’s made in life – and those life has made for him – while Parra comes to believe the world cannot be salvaged by art, preceding a chilling moment where the Chilean people come to support the Nazi-like President Ibañez, waiving swastika flags and adorned in masks blurring actual identity from nationalist idealism. Jodorowsky isn’t afraid to comment on the dark hours of a nation’s descent into madness, but rarely does it feel as raw as it does in these moments, especially when considering what will follow.
The cult heroine Auntie Mame once proclaimed “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” When it comes to Mr. Jodorowsky’s visual poetry, whether it’s endless or isn’t, it is a banquet that gives its admirers plenty to gorge on and still overwhelm the sensations. And, much like its young protagonist disappearing into a fog of uncertainty, Endless Poetry ends on a note of uncertainty and melancholy for what came before, but acknowledging there’s still beauty in life to be found beyond the fog bank, just as there’s beauty and whimsy to be awed by in what lies ahead in the next three chapters of Jodorowsky’s magnum opus.
Endless Poetry is currently playing in limited release and will be expanding out from ABKCO Films over the course of the summer.
By William Coffey
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm