Is self-portraiture necessarily onanism? Society kinda looks down of self-involvement: look at public reaction to, well, any artist that’s work concerns themselves. The urge to capture ourself in our work is too great I guess. Like, Van Gogh did something like 20 and he died at 37. Artists bring their individual styles, liven up the affair with fun tricks, but still they constantly return to the one model who is guaranteed to join them at the easel. I find myself sketching myself far too much, and I always look better on the paper than in real life. Gotta work on that.
Endless Poetry is the second of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s self-portraits, an auto-bio-pic following on from 2013s The Dance of Reality. Displaced from the town of his birth into the bustling metropolis of Santiago, Jodorowsky grows from a teenager to a young man finding passion, friends and love. Boy that’s a neat summary, but it is just that, and fairly straightforwardly told too. It’s like having been bound to the structure of his life pushes him towards a more traditional narrative structure. As a result, this may be his easiest film so far, not that that makes it lesser in any way, there’s just more here for a typical audience to grab onto.
It’s why I brought up self-portraiture at the beginning, cos this enterprise feels more like portraiture than it does biography. If you haven’t checked out the timeline of Picasso’s self-portraits, do. It’s this amazing look at one of the great modernist’s evolving style. Yet with each one you are confronting a new truth of this dude. Same with these flicks, Jodorowsky is looking back, explicitly, through his narration and brief appearances, and attempting to convey his truth. Thing is, he don’t do so like no other filmmaker.
He has very little time for dramatic realism here, instead he employs a form of emotional realism. Nothing here pretends to create any semblance of Santiago as it existed in the early 1940s. What is does is create the image of Santiago as it exists in Jodorowsky’s mind. His parents are playing through the thickest characterisations. Brontis Jodorowsky and Pamela Flores do a good job portraying them despite the directorial restrictions placed upon them, but at the same time. As an audience, we got a pretty good idea of Jodorowsky’s impression of these people.
It’s real solid, and I’m not really saying anything insightful about it, but I kinda don’t feel like I need to. The film embraces insight, but it also embraces gleeful stupidity. I can sit, young, in the auditorium and watch, on the screen, the old be made young again. The Dance of Reality ended with Alejandro on a boat, this one does too. I hope we get another, he’s still got magic in them bones.