Posts Tagged ‘Cannes’

A Void’s Just a Void

Posted: October 8, 2009 by Nigel in Uncategorized
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Picture from of a scene in Enter the Void

Picture from of a scene in Enter the Void

Lars Von Trier. Park Chan-wook. Michael Haneke. These three auteurs are masters whose works are defined by their distinctive approach to divisive subject matter. France’s Gaspar Noe hinted at soon joining the rank with his first feature, Irreversible. Told in a real-time backwards narrative, the film is infamous for an unflinching nine-minute rape sequence featured in the film’s first half.

Yet as the film unraveled itself, it presented a dilemma. Juxtaposed against the abhorrent sequence were intimate and deeply humane scenes at the end of the film that left a solemn and thoughtful tone on the horror that had transpired. The film was akin to a slap in the face, but there was no denying the boldness of the work and Noe’s grim yet exhilarating vision.

In Noe’s latest venture, Enter the Void, he audaciously tells a three-hour story of life after death with all the visual panache he employed in Irreversible. But while he’s still out to enrage and provoke, there appears to be no sincerity behind the whole endeavor. He’s forsaken any resemblance to narrative for fancy shock tactics.

Noe begins his tale from the eyes of Oscar, a young, wayward American drug dealer working in neon-drenched Tokyo. Oscar takes one last trip (in hallucinatory CGI) before ultimately meeting his death in a bar. From there on, Noe flexes his visionary muscle by having the camera act as a voyeur, peering in on Tokyo from above, sweeping across streets and people in Oscar’s life. The camera is Oscar, on a final hallucinatory trip after death.

Essentially there is no plot to the film. Noe seems intent rather to simulate an experiential state of the afterlife. To do so, his camera ruthlessly cranes in and out of light fixtures, peepholes and in one sequence sure to divide audiences, an aborted fetus. The climax in a celestial brothel that features an orgy of un-simulated sex fulfills the requisite shock value of a Noe feature, but unlike in Irreversible, it seems included merely to titillate than to serve any overarching purpose.

Which leads to the inherent problem with Enter the Void. Whatever point Noe is trying to make about life, death and the afterlife is lost within the plethora of repugnant images and special effects. Noe’s tricks cannot mask what is essentially an offensive, interminable, masochistic, self-conscious slog of a movie.

-Nigel Smith

French 101: “The Class”

Posted: November 5, 2008 by jerkmag in Uncategorized
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If you thought the “inner-city classroom drama” genre was played out (thanks Michelle Pfeiffer), leave it to the French to prove you wrong. At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, The Class (Entre les murs) won the Palme d’Or, the equivalent to Best Picture at the Oscars. France has already submitted the film to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film consideration in 2009.