Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feel Bad Film: Enter the Void

Enter the Void @ Real Art Ways
November 26 & 27
December 3 & 4

By now you know what kinds of films the Scenics prefer - the "feel-bad" kind. And we're lucky to have a home venue in Real Art Ways to supply us with a steady stream of such. We particularly prefer bad feelings of the first-world variety - the self-inflicted, existential miseries we can totally identify with. Enter the Void, Gaspar Noé's psychedelic meditation on sleaze (or is it a sleazy meditation on psychedelics?), has bad feelings to spare.

As usual, I went into watching this movie purposefully with as little background as possible - having heard only that director was famous for creating one of the most graphic and disturbing cinematic rape scenes ever in his previous film, Irreversible, which I've totally heard of, but hadn't seen. The Scenics caught the trailer for Enter the Void on a previous RAW outing, so I knew it was a drug movie with some overtones of brother-sister incest in the mix.

And you'll get all this too in the opening scene, which also introduces Noé's conceit of filming from our drugged out protagonist's point of view. This is off-putting at first, but pretty soon it's apparent that Noé has brilliantly and accurately accomplished what many have tried before - this drug-vision, which has so often been executed to ridiculous or distracting effect. The Tokyo inhabited by Noé's cast of lowlife Caucasians is all the more beautiful, menacing, luminous and alien as envisioned through a haze of DMT, LSD and ecstasy. Enough cannot be said about Enter the Void as an achievement in visual effects.

However, such praise cannot be heaped on the story that is told. Because of the film's meandering, hallucinatory quality, there isn't a lot of plot to "spoil," but I'll try and be as vague as possible anyway. An effective device of Noé's is his folding of time on itself, with images of the past - both the idyllic and the horrific - infringing on the present day action - the persistent anxieties of a bad trip. Unfortunately the present day action consists of our brother and sister pair on their separate downward spirals of depravity, but because they've been so sketchily drawn and dumbly portrayed, it isn't clear that either had far to fall or innocence for us to mourn the loss of.

Grotesque and gratuitous portrayals of sex, violence and drug abuse and an utter lack of likable or sympathetic characters will be a turn-off to the average viewer (who doesn't read our blog or go to our theater anyway) and a turn-on for the pervy indie minority who will embrace Enter the Void. Those who hang with it will be rewarded by the film's painfully drawn out, climactic multi-orgy scene with it's bizarre glowing genitals and ultimately, the intra-vaginal/penis-thrust cam. But that is all you will be rewarded with.

After my viewing, I checked out what film critics had to say about Enter the Void, and found that we are all pretty much in agreement - simultaneously bowled over by the cool visuals and put off or disappointed by the everything else. But the cool visuals are non-stop for more than two hours, so for filmmakers and drug film aficionados, it's nevertheless a must-see.

PS: How awesome are these opening credits?

No comments:

Post a Comment