Exit the Void

Movie review time.

Pittsburgh is currently hosting the Three Rivers Film Festival. It’s a pretty amazing fest. Years past I’ve gotten to see Guy Madden’s Cowards Bend At The Knee, the amazing flick Bronson and a documentary about concert posters, the name of which escapes me now. The Three Rivers Film Festival is an amazing festival, and I’m so glad I live in a city that has stuff like it. This review is not a knock on the Film Festival. I didn’t like the movie that much, but I’m still glad I got to see it.

Enter The Void
Anyone here familiar with Gasper Noé? The dude likes to make very fucked up movies.

Now. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some fucked up movies. I’ve built much of my professional career off of my knowledge of fucked up film. But Gasper Noé takes things a bit too far sometimes. His most well-known movie is Irreversible. Which features a man getting beaten to death with a fire extinguisher and one of the most brutal rape scenes ever committed to film. I wouldn’t say I enjoy films like Irreversible, but I do think Noé made some interesting points with that movie. It wasn’t shocking for shock value. He was saying something with the gratuitious sex and violence.

Enter The Void doesn’t do as good a job with that. The movie is about an America drug dealer named Oscar who is living in Tokyo. About 15 minutes into the film he dies, and the rest of the movie flashes back and forth between him seeing his life flash before his eyes and him observing his friends and family from beyond.

The movie is shot amazingly well. The entire opening 15 minutes is done in first-person, which is a gimmick I always enjoy. The rest of the movie is either shot from behind Oscar’s head (think Gears of War, but with drugs) or still from his point of view, looking down from above. I don’t know how they got some of the shots they got in this movie. It really looks incredible.

But looks can only get you so far. The movie is 137 minutes long. And there’s about 90 minutes of good movie in there. The rest is nothing but long, drawn out shots of nothing, or extended sequences of painful flashing lights that will seriously cause seizures in some who see the movie. I get that Noé was trying to show how Oscar’s spirit is disorientated and traveling through space/time, but it just got old after a while. We can all tell you’re an innovative filmmaker Gasper, now get on with the story already.

Another aspect of the film that really put me off was the explicit sexuality and other graphic scenes. It didn’t offend me. Don’t get me wrong. I have rarely, if ever, been offended by something I’ve seen in a film. I enjoy seeing movies that push boundaries and shoot for the stars when it comes to showing messed up shit. I own Ichi The Killer okay? But I have a problem with movies that show graphic, unsimilated sex. I just don’t see the point. The only movie I have ever seen that has pulled that off was Shortbus, and since that was actually about letting go of your sexual hangups and being uninhibited doing anything less than actually showing full-on hardcore sex would have really been a cop out.

But in this movie its just stupid. It’s exploitive, but I’m willing to bet Noé would never admit that. He wants his exploitive smut to be taken seriously. Well, I got word for you dude, you can set up all the special crane shots you want, and you can add all the special effects in the world, but a cumshot is a cumshot. Get over it. And the graphic abortion scene? That just seemed like an excuse to trauamtize an actress who was desperate for work. I respect movies that are exploitive with the purpose of being exploitive, there’s a purity that you have to admire. But don’t show me a 10-minute sex montage and tell me you’re doing for any other reason than to shock/arouse the audience.

But even with all that, I’m having a hard time dismissing the movie completely. Like I said, it looks AMAZING. I have never seen a movie that looks like this. And while the second half drags to a near stop, the first half is near-brilliant. I guess I have to half-heartedly recommend the movie, but just go in knowing that its a rough ride, and it really has problems.

I just wish someone would grab Noé and reign him in a bit. He’s his own worst enemy.

Also, if you are looking for movies to watch while on acid, here you go.

Oh, and one more thing. This movie has the best opening credits I have ever seen. An odd comment I know. But DAMN.

Green Day – Live In Tokyo
American Idiot
Jesus Of Suburbia
Are We The Waiting
St. Jimmy
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

Enter The Void also annoyed me because it just reminded me how much I want to go to Tokyo. I’m planning to go there before I turn 33, so I got about a year and a half. I’m going to geek out like crazy there. Visit all the video games stores, buy more obscure vinyl than humanely possible, and  try to go to some concerts too. Ever since I saw X Japan I’ve been dying to see another Japanese band with a Japanese audience. Those mothers are insane. I would also love to see an American band with a Japanese audience, like this Green Day show that came the Target limited edition of 21st Century Breakdown.

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