Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Enter the Void

Argentinean born Gasper Noe is a French filmmaker that likes to make an impact on his audience’s. His debut film I Stand Alone (1998) is about a middle-aged ex-con and former butcher who’s plagued with racist and misogynist thoughts and has a very violent temper. This film concluded with a 30 second gap to allow the squeamish to leave the cinema before the climax. Philippe Nahon, beat known for his roles in French horror and thriller films, stars as the butcher. Nahon can also be seen in Noe’s second, and better-known movie, Irreversible (2002). It consists of thirteen scenes presented in reverse chronological order. The most controversial part of this movie is the nine minutes single shot rape scene in the pedestrian underpass. The film also uses extremely low-frequency sound, which is designed to disorientate and unease the audience.

Linda just loves Tokyo.
On Monday night the RBC Film Club were treated to Gasper Noe’s totally original third and latest film Enter the Void (2009) The movie is set in the red light district of Tokyo, which is only seen at night, where a young American, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown in his debut film), takes and sells drugs. One night while enjoying a hallucinogenic trip he is summoned to the bar called The Void by Victor (Olly Alexander) who because of a grudge (Oscar had sex with the boys mother) sets him up to be arrested by the Tokyo police. During the raid Oscar gets shot and killed in the bars grimy toilet. Following his death he embarks on an extended out of body experience as predicted in The Tibetan Book of the Dead which was loaned to him prior to his death by his friend Alex (Cyril Roy also taking part in his debut film). The remainder of the movie is viewed through the eyes of the dead boy during which we see his birth, the death of his parents in a car crash, the separation from his beloved sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta who reminds me of Juliette Lewis in 2001’s Strange Days) and the events before and after his violent death including the arrival of his sister in Tokyo.

This is a tremendous piece of avant-garde filmmaking; Noe, who also co-wrote the story, has again succeeded in being provocative, extreme and to serve up a completely absorbing movie. The master filmmaker deliberately uses English-speaking actors to eliminate the need for subtitles allowing the audience to concentrate on the images. Its soundtrack is totally appropriate, the cinematography by Benoit Debie, who was responsible for Irreversible, brings to mind Christopher Doyle’s brilliant work with Wong Kar Wai. Wonderful crane shots, some of which must have been shot using a helicopter, this viewer was never quite sure when we are actually seeing a model of Tokyo or the real thing. Unfortunately the version we saw was 27 minutes short of the original shown at Cannes, but hopefully this can be put right when the DVD is released in April 2011.

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