I’m wearing the same expression as Ryan Gosling there: I just saw Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn’s followup to Drive. (If you’re in Chicago, it’s playing through Thursday, 8 August at the Music Box; the film is also apparently streaming online.) Actually, I was so impressed I went and saw it twice.
Anyone out there want to chat about it? I’ll post some initial thoughts after the jump. (Beware of serious spoilers, though: these points cover the entire film, and give away key plot points.)
[My capsule review for those who don’t want to read the rest: Of the five new films I’ve seen so far this year, Only God Forgives is easily the most compelling and my favorite. In second place is probably Iron Man 3, which I mostly enjoyed, but found nowhere near as interesting as this. Securely in last place is Star Trek Into Darkness.]
[Caveat spoiler. Enter this and all voids at your own risk.]
Enter the Void, the new film by Gaspar Noe, is a nearly three hours’ slurry of blur and brightness, punctuated by lucid moments of pornographic violence and/or actual pornography, and informed by exactly two ideas: the first, that everything about a fluorescent light is utterly fascinating; the second, that the only remotely interesting thing about a woman is her tits. Everything else the film has to say–drugs are bad, kind of, but maybe they’re just really cool; fucking your sister, like fucking your best friend’s mom, has its pros and cons; Japan is really shiny and has relatively few Japanese people in it; something something reincarnation–is either so hopelessly garbled or else delivered in such cliched terms (“Rockabye Baby” plinked out on a celeste! A drug dealer who is also a gay rapist!) that the temptation is to think the movie is inviting your laughter. (O, would that it were so!) I saw it last night with Joshua Cohen at the IFC Cinema in New York.
Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, which opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles (and will soon be available on demand, I think), is spectacular, maddening, technically brilliant, sophomoric, unsubtle, mature… what am I forgetting? I don’t know. You could make stew out of the adjectives that would work in that list. It’s a movie that, if you love movies, you have to see. (By no means do I mean to suggest that you’ll definitely love it. You very well may loathe it.) It is truly, and I honestly feel I’m saying this without hyperbole, not like any movie you’ve seen before.
Noe is an infamous and incorrigible provocateur. There’s no one moment in Enter the Void as confrontationally horrific as Irreversible’s fire extinguisher or tunnel rape scene, but it does contain many instances of hardcore sex and gynecological grotesquery. That aspect of the movie, though, is an afterthought to me. I saw it foremost as an attempt to expand the language of film.
In theaters tomorrow and On Demand on the 29th. Don’t miss this film. Some more whet:
–Steve Erickson interviews Noé: “I saw “Lady in the Lake” on mushrooms and became fascinated with the idea of depicting a character‘s perspective while he’s on hallucinogenic drugs. I also read about astral projection, and the afterlife. I don’t believe in it, but as a collective dream, like flying saucers, I wanted to depict it properly.” and “I want to make a movie that will be very sentimental and sexual. I have a long treatment now. It’s a love story. I want to film sex as I’ve experienced it, which I haven’t seen accurately represented in erotic or pornographic films.”
11 degrees and snowing. The weather and its children–snow, slush, wet shoes, stung faces–frames Sundance. As much as I’d like to say I acclimated, I didn’t. But the weather does amplify a sense of frenzy & camaraderie already present for the sake of the namesake: movies. People go to see movies, buy movies, sell movies–share movies and share themselves. And, yes: if you don’t have passes, know that you should wake up at 6am or earlier every morning to stand in line for hours at the box office, just to find out that you can only get tickets to 2 (max) of the 5-8 movies you wanted to see. There was a guy, first in line, who camped out at the box office for the night only to be beaten to the punch for tickets by someone who paid faster (cash). Devotion.
So there is a madness to the festival. It is worth it. I met filmmakers–actors, writers, directors, producers–I highly respect, and had leisurely conversations with them. All were warm, all were happy to be sharing. I saw six films in four days and a night, three of them great. It was thrilling.
The title above comes from a line in Enter The Void–one of the characters is describing a DMT trip. I stayed away from the DMT, but the festival, all gathered & gleaned, is a very specific and inspiring drug and gauntlet.
Here lies an interview with Gaspar Noé & Marilyn Manson. (I’m in it for the Noé, but to each his own.) Make sure to get past the first two insanely MTV’d minutes for a calm interview with the filmmaker and a conversation between the two.