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Endless Poetry: An Endless Celebration of Life’s Whimsy and Darkness

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suyruCTA2I4&w=640&h=360]

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

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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