In anticipation of Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void

NB: The following editorial will appear in Monday’s issue of Craccum — hence the parenthetical references to lectures, etc.

Film editorial for the week of Monday July 19th, 2010

By Hugh Lilly

By the time this issue comes out, the 2010 International Film Festival will have been in full-swing for about ten days—but there’s still a heap of wonderful cinematic experiences to be had, chief among which will be Gaspar Noé’s hypnotic acid trip of a film, Enter the Void, which, according to Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, is so revolutionary as to usher in a new way of telling stories on film. “[The film is] is an exceptional work,” she reported from Cannes in 2009, “though less because of its story, acting or any of the usual critical markers. What largely distinguishes it, beyond the stunning cinematography, is that this is the work of an artist who’s trying to show us something we haven’t seen before, even while he liberally samples images and ideas from Stanley Kubrick and the entirety of American avant-garde cinema.”

Noé is best known for his highly provocative, intentionally stomach-turning 2003 film Irréversible, which (in)famously features an uncut nine-minute rape scene; Void promises to be just as jarringly spectacular an audio-visual assault—if not moreso. The film centres on a brother and sister, Oscar and Linda—played by newcomer Nathaniel Brown and Paz de la Huerta (The Limits of Control)—who are orphaned after their parents die in a car crash. They are placed in separate foster care, and reunite years later in Tokyo, where Oscar, now 20, is dealing drugs, and Linda is making ends meet by working as a stripper.

Thomas Bangalter, one half of the French house-music/robot duo Daft Punk, provided the musical accompaniment to Noé’s day-glo nocturnal atmospheres. A late confirmation in the programme, Enter the Void will close the festival on Sunday night at 8.30pm—and it’s probably a good idea to get a ticket now because the screening most likely will sell out. (Go on, walk down to the Civic; you’re probably reading this in your first lecture of semester—the one which barely even counts as a class because they’re probably just going over stuff like which texts to get and where your tutorials are, and what the paper’s login details are for turnitin.com—stuff you already know because it’s in the administrative handout in front of you.)

Playing on Wednesday night at the Skycity Theatre is Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, quite literally the very worst film ever released—which actually means, of course, that it’s one of the best movies ever, because you get to laugh along with everyone else at how hilariously awful it is. Seriously: everything in this movie that could have gone wrong did go wrong—from the dialogue to the editing to the never-explained scene where they’re all standing around in tuxedoes throwing a football to one another. It’s as if Wiseau—a hulking, enigmatic man who hails from somewhere in the former ussr (it’s impossible to tell where) and looks a bit like a hung-over Gene Simmons on an extremely bad hair day—put a bunch of people in charge of various parts of the film but prevented them from actually communicating. Either that or he’s just actually nuts and genuinely believes he made a good film. It’s hard to tell if he’s being sincere in interviews—The Onion AV Club did a really good one that’s worth reading—because he keeps changing tack, first saying that he intended to make a drama, then, when he realised that everyone was laughing at the film, started saying he was trying for a “black comedy”…

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