Enter the Void

13 11 2010

Enter the Void is directed by Gaspar Noe, who is responsible for two other notorious and horribly disturbing films, Irreversible (2002) and I Stand Alone (1998), as well as many shorts, one of which is included in a collection titled Destricted (2006).  Destricted compiles erotic films that aim to illuminate the points where art meets sexuality (fellow short directors include: Marina Abramovic, Matthew Barney, Marco Brambilla, Larry Clark, Richard Prince and Sam Taylor-Wood).

I must confess now that despite the fact that I’ve seen my fair share of disturbing films, I could not bring myself to finish Irreversible.  It is known to have some of the most violent scenes out there, including a very disgusting bludgeoning which occurs in the first few minutes and a viciously executed rape scene.  With this in mind I was wary but intrigued to hear about Noe’s new Enter the Void, and upon seeing the teaser trailers was aptly stoked for it to come out so that I could experience the next installment in Noe’s oeuvre.

The trailer sends mixed messages.  Tender images of a young man and woman with a tinkling melody collide with psychedelia-infused Tokyo night scenes, strippers, drugs and violence that are editted together with a tempo matching the intense beat of electronica.  The only other point I knew of the film before I went into it is that Noe was going to continue his exploration of a roving camera that makes it look as though the entire film is done in one take, a style that he explored in Irreversible.

I was riveted by the film from the opening credits.  That intense electronica beat from the trailer picks up immediately and amid it the credits flash graphically in bright, ever-changing neon colors.  I got pumped in seconds.  When the credits are over the film transitions abruptly to near-silence in a Tokyo apartment, and all of a sudden we are a character.  The gaze of the camera moves as though we are the man acting in the film, and a subtle but highly off-putting effect of the camera “blinking” emphasizes this. This effect is maintained throughout the first 45 minutes or so of Enter the Void, and these are easily the best 45 minutes in the film. 

Noe organizes the narrative of the film ala Momento or Pulp Fiction by revealing most of the ending first in the opening 45 minute sequence.  This only becomes distracting due to the fact that the narrative slowly nose-dives as it unwinds.  All of the most delicious story-telling and camera work occurs in the first hour.  The final hour and 20 minutes seem to drag and becomes repitive and, while dark and macabre, a bit boring. 

I want to give Noe credit for taking his camera work to such an ambitious and conceptual level, although I felt that his use of the roving, surveillance style camera as a transitional tool happened a few too many times and was a big part of why the film felt so long.  Another creative point that I want to commend Noe for is his incredibly interesting and beautiful filmic depiction of what it is like to experience psychedellic drugs.  During these scenes, the viewer truly feels at the mercy of Noe’s creativity, and is forced to experience along with the protagonist these arresting visions that leave no room for escape by either party as we are completely immersed in psychedelia. 

If you are a viewer who perhaps has dabbled in psychedlics yourself, or who has a penchant for the weird, the dramatic and the disturbing then  you should certainly put this movie on your list of must-sees.  Otherwise, this is a movie to avoid at all costs.  Although I think that Enter the Void has its share of flaws, I believe that Noe has definitely created an experience that should not be missed by the adventurous movie-goer.  Looking back, I must certainly add that it is an incredibly beautifully shot movie.  All of its cinematography is on point and exceptionally well done.  At the very least, don’t miss it for that.

My rating: 7.5/10

My 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

2 01 2010

20.  THE GHOST WRITER  (Roman Polanski)

-Had one of the most intriguing teaser trailers.  Plus, with all the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski it’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to this.  It stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan.

19.  MACHETE  (Robert Rodriguez)

-The fake trailer from Grindhouse is being made into a feature.  Should be fun, and it’s nice to see Danny Trejo get a starring role.

18.  DUE DATE  (Todd Phillips)

-I think Zach Galifianakis is one of the funniest people alive, so I can’t wait to finally see him in the lead role for a comedy like this.  Robert Downey Jr. also stars. 

17.  DAYBREAKERS  (Spierig brothers)

-This one comes out next week.  It’s getting good reviews, I like Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and I thought the trailer looked great.  I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

16.  BIUTIFUL  (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

-It’s by the director of Amorres Perros and Babel and stars Javier Bardem.  With those names there’s no way this turns out bad.

15.  JACK GOES BOATING  (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

-I know nothing about this except that it’s Hoffman’s directorial debut.  He’s one of my favorite actors so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares as a director. 

14.  THE AMERICAN  (Anton Corbijn)

-From the director of Control and starring George Clooney.  Sounds like a promising duo.

13.  THE RUM DIARY  (Bruce Robinson)

-The director of Withnail and I hasn’t made a film in almost 20 years, so it’s great to see him back and directing again.  This stars Johnny Depp playing a Hunter S. Thompson type journalist just like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so I’m predicting this to be wild and fun.


-I’m always excited for a new Woody Allen film.  This one’s got another great cast including Frieda Pinto (her first role since Slumdog), Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas.

11.  MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE?  (Werner Herzog)

-Starring one of my new favorite actors (Michael Shannon) directed by one of my all time favorites, and produced by David Lynch.  Should be thoroughly creepy.

10.  LIFE DURING WARTIME  (Todd Solondz)

-From the writer/director of Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse, both of which I consider masterpieces. 

9.  TRUE GRIT  (The Coen Brothers)

-Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Jeff Bridges star in the Coen brothers’ remake of the John Wayne classic.  At this point anything the Coens make I’ll see opening weekend.  They’re just so consistently brilliant.

8.  ENTER THE VOID  (Gasper Noe)

-The director of Irreversible is back with another mindfuck.  All I need to know.

7.  TOY STORY 3  (Lee Unkrich – PIXAR)

-It’s Pixar, I’d be shocked if this didn’t turn out to be great.


-Man I’ll be sad when this series comes to an end.

5.  MICMACS  (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

-A new comedy from the director of Amelie.  All his films have been wonderful (with the exception of Alien: Resurrection), so I can’t wait for this one.  One of the best working directors.

4.  BLACK SWAN  (Darren Aronofsky)

-Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star as rival ballerinas in what’s being described as a psychological thriller.  Aronofsky’s one of the most interesting directors right now, so I always look forward to what he’s doing next. 

3.  THE TREE OF LIFE  (Terrence Malick)

-This is only Terrence Malick’s 5th film in his almost 40 year career, so it’s kind of an event whenever a new film of his is released.  Plus, apparently this one’s got dinosaurs in it.  Yeah, dinosaurs.  Can’t wait.  He’s one of the most adventurous and beautiful filmmakers, and this has been his pet project which he’s been working on since the 70’s.  It stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt.  Not to go overboard on the hype and give the film unrealistic expectations, but this could be one of the greatest films ever.  It has unlimited potential. 

2.  SHUTTER ISLAND  (Martin Scorsese)

-It’s so exciting to see Scorsese tackle the horror/thriller genre (I don’t really count Cape Fear).  Plus, I love the Hitchcock-esque mystery feel I get from the trailer.  This one just looks amazing.

1.  INCEPTION  (Christopher Nolan)


Notably absent:  Alice in Wonderland, or “The Mad Hatter in Wonderland” judging by the trailer which puts Johnny Depp front and center and barely even features Alice.  Honestly, I wish Tim Burton would stop remaking everything, and I wish he’d stop casting Depp and then covering him in white make-up everytime.  It also looks like he went completely nuts with the CGI.  Needless to say I’m skeptical about this one.