'Endless Poetry': Seattle International Film Festival movie review
In short: Young poet Alejandro joins a bohemian artist commune where he meets a host of circus-like characters.
First and foremost, Alejandro Jodorowsky is a true visionary of cinema. He has crafted a highly stylized and surreal world - "Endless Poetry" is, if nothing else, an uncompromised realization of an artist's imagination. Jodorowsky rightfully deserves credit for creating an unapologetically unconventional and vibrant film.
That said, "Endless Poetry" is a frustrating film to endure that typifies the sort of movie that give film festivals a bad rap. The characters are absurd, one-dimensional caricatures. The tortured pianist doesn't merely brood over his art - he literally destroys his piano. Many films have featured parental figures who disapprove of their children's choices - but Alejandro's father is just a homophobic brute who hates all artists.
Nothing sticks because the film sets up plot points too quickly and resolves them just as fast. This revolving door of colorful characters continues through the entire film - virtually all the supporting characters just show up at random points in the movie, and are shown the door with equal indifference. A character says they will meet again in forty days - and the very next scene jumps forty days later - robbing the movie of any possible build-up or tension. There's no room for poetic symbolism in this film - "Endless" smashes the audience over the head with its heavy-handed righteous indignation using a cast of disposable characters.
This film's worst sin is its shameless aggrandizing of poets. (With the notable exception of Alejandro's father) "Endless Poetry" celebrates poets - at one point Alejandro is treated like a rock star and crowd surfs a top a mass of people chanting "Poet!" like a thoughtless horde. The film doesn't seriously challenge Alejandro's decisions or his convictions. At one point, Alejandro alone purports to be the sole voice of reason and takes a literal stand against a Chilean dictator. And the fact that Jodorowsky wrote and directed this pretentious autobiographical self-congratulatory celebration of himself and his art only makes this film all the more gross.
Strip away the crazy imagery, the oddly high number of genitalia shots and the vaunted surrealism, and all that is left is a story about how a kid grew up to be a poet, everybody thought he was awesome and they were all sad when he left. Roll credits.
Final verdict: The only reason this eccentric style-over-substance waste of time gets a '2 star' rating (as opposed to the '1 star' it truly deserves) is due to Jodorowsky's visual aesthetic.
"Endless Poetry" screens at SIFF 2017. This film is unrated and has a running time of 128 minutes.