At 88 years young, the rebel-shaman filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky has led an eclectic life and enjoyed a provocative career not easily encapsulated. His 1970 acid western, El Topo, crowned him godfather of the midnight-movie craze. His phantasmagoric 1973 masterpiece, The Holy Mountain, was ripped off by Kanye West for his Yeezus tour design. His impossibly ambitious, unfinished Frank Herbert adaptation was anecdotally chronicled in the Cannes-vetted doc Jodorowsky's Dune. And that's just within cinema -- "Jodo" has also been a playwright and a novelist, a writer of comic books and a musician, a Tarot scholar and the inventor of "psychomagic" therapy. He once was a mime who studied with Marcel Marceau.
Jodorowsky began to unpack his origins and his emotional baggage in 2013's The Dance of Reality (the first in a proposed pentalogy of autobiographical magic-realist fantasies), which concerned his melancholic 1930s childhood in Tocopilla, Chile. You need not have seen that film to delve into its spectacular follow-up, Endless Poetry, which picks up in the 1940s with Alejandro and his Jewish-Ukrainian folks moving from their provincial home to open a garment shop in Santiago. Dazzlingly shot on location by cinematographer extraordinaire Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love), this color-splashed, user-friendly sequel draws a heartfelt if comically absurd portrait of a young man growing into his identity by leaning into his creative passions.
Episodic in structure, Endless Poetry feels like a scrapbook of amended memories filtered through Jodo's lysergic proclivities. There are Nazi dwarves and amputees. There is more full-frontal nudity than the MPAA could stomach. Epic choreography commingles a marching band of red devils with a street procession of skeletons. It's more loopy, more irreverent and more intensely personal than anything its mystic creator has invented before.