What a strange little beauty this is. Truly remarkable. This is an experience. I can probably liken the elation after the film to the first time I watched Eraserhead. For those who don't know the story, it seems to follow the Tibetan Book of the Dead belief of life-death-life. Follows the process brilliantly through the light of our main character Oscar--who succumbs to death after a bad drug deal. Immediately following his death, we go through the evacuation process. He follows his sister, his friends, silently sees the consequences and their reactions to his death. We are then thrust into the "magical mirror" stage of the process. Pivotal moments in his past life are shown, and scattered, repeated. Then we go into the future...or, what can be seen as a major difference in time perception. This leads to the re-birth of Oscar. Notice I say "we" a lot there, well, it's because a majority of the film is in first-person perspective. It's nothing I've seen done so perfectly. Everything from the DMT hallucination at the beginning, to the death-process, to the out-of-body sensation. I can see why this should have been seen in the theater and really regret that this town didn't play it anywhere. Granted, I sat mere inches away from my oversized computer monitor to really sink into it as best as possible. It's hard to describe it all...it's a lot to take in. Noe is literally a magician. Some here may not be so much into it...it can seem very slow to some...meaningless even. It's nearly 2 1/2 hours long. Felt a lot longer to me, which is usually an insult to a movie, but not in this case...it's the biggest compliment I can pay it. Enter the Void seems a lot more optimistic than Noe's previous exercises in Nihilism. It exudes serenity in death. Dare I say, it's a movie of hope.
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This movie is: colorful, surreal, sexual, devious, painful, cruel, mind-bending, spiritual and many other things. Its extremely hard to watch due to its repetitive nature towards the end and its 2 hour and 45 minute run-time. However, I can't help but love this movies use of excellent audio design and its insanely trippy visual effects. After I watched this movie, I was a different person...Sounds cliche and pretentious, but its 100% true... Gaspar Noe, what have you done to my mind?!
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Gaspar Noe presents ENTER THE VOID: A challenging, mind-warping film. The ambitious writer/director infuses the picture with fluorescent colors and eerie moods reminiscent of the late Stanley Kubrik. In addition, his fascination with drug-addled, depraved souls and use of non-linear storytelling invokes Quentin Tarantino (minus all sense of humor). While ENTER THE VOID includes many disturbing moments (graphic sex, pulped car crash victims, aborted fetus close-ups, narcotic usage), it never approaches the haunting, unbearable brutality of Noe's last opus, IRREVERSIBLE, with its grisly head-bashing and rape scenes.
In spite of the major experimentalism, Noe manages to develop a crystal clear narrative thread and the whole psychedelic soap-opera comes together neatly. From start to finish, this VOID bursts with light, form and sound. Forget Who, What, When, Where and Why . . . ENTER THE VOID leaves one wondering "HOW?"
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Even I think this movie should have been released worldwide for a Restricted version. Apparently, they have not edited the movie for Restricted rating. I think more people should watch the edited Resricted rated version as a suggestion.
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105 of 122 people found the following review helpful
Gaspar Noe's Enter the VoidOct. 24 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
If there was ever a two minute opening credit sequence that could grab me by the balls, it's from Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void. I'm confident it will have that effect on most people. You can see it here if you don't believe me. I've never seen anything quite like it. It's a strange beginning when considering the way it contrasts with the rest of the film. This hyper-frenetic, psychedelic introduction is the star of a film running around two and a half hours, and you'll feel every minute of its run time.
Noé has made a career as provocateur. His last few films involve a level of violence, sex and depravity (and a mixture of all three) that anyone could argue is excessive and exploitive. The problem, however, is that Noé is so talented, it can't altogether be dismissed. It reminds of Lars von Trier, and his latest film Antichrist. Enter the Void doesn't represent a marked change in style for Noé. All the base elements are there: sex, drugs, incest, abortion. And it's completely warranted to feel you're owed an explanation as to why you should subject yourself to them. I don't have an answer. But I can say that there are such dazzling flashes of genius sprinkled in throughout the film, that wading through the rest of the bog will be worth it for some. Even though you'll come out of the experience probably feeling dirty, and empty.
Enter the Void is losely based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a canon of scripture for Buddhists. It is an instructional manuel filled with directives for those between this life, and their next reincarnation-what they should prepare to experience, and how they should react. Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is an American, living in Tokyo. Or at least a Noé-esque Tokyo full of drugs and bass-thumbing club music. He begins to deal some drugs and doing a lot of heavy psychedelics; the film opens on him smoking a bowl of DMT. Here, the screen evolves into rotation patterns, made up of bright colors, accompanied by resonant sounds. It's very clearly an hommage to Stanley Kubrick's famous tunnel of colored light scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. When the film premiered at Cannes, it was seventeen minutes longer. Seventeen extra minutes of these sorts of effects.
Shot from Oscar's point of view, we mainly get to see the back of his neck, only glancing at his face when he looks in a mirror. He gets gunned down by Tokyo police in a seedy club bathroon. As he's trying to dispose of his stash, he yells that he has gun to prevent them from entering his stall. He dies. At this point, Oscar's essence slowly seperates from his body, and the remainder of the film, still in Oscar's perspective, is seen from what is now nearly a third person, but wordless narrative. He floats about the city, through walls, no longer constrained by the limits of a physical body, but unable to communicate with the world that surrounds him.
He weaves in andout of his friends' presences, and follows his sister, Linda, around (a ubiquitously nude Paz de la Heurta). Linda, a stripper at a club named Sex Power Money) and Oscar share a bond much too close for comfort since a horrific, shared experience in their youth involving the death of their parents. Noé subjects the audience to this experience over and over again on screen which results in a slightly jarred understanding of why Linda and Oscar's relationship is so distorted. There are many scenes too unpleasant for any film. Particularly, an extremely realistic and graphic abortion, and an explicit sex scene made up of impossible, and impossibly candid shots.
Enter the Void could easily be classified as experimental as there's not really much that happens on screen from a plot's perspective. It's a lot of floating-in-the-sky camera work, with little onscreen substance. On one hand, this leaves plenty of room for meditation on what death is, and how we can, or should relate to it. And it's easy to take advantage of this opportunity. On the other hand, two hours of mediation isn't always the desired product when heading to the movies.
Noé provides his shocks and provocations. There's no shortage of them. But every now and then, all of the wildly unrestrained facets of the film converge and the cacophony of it all gets quite. Then there are, quite literally, revelatory moments that make Enter the Void exhaustively interesting, and completely unforgettable.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Over-long, but visually uniqueNov. 22 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Disclaimer: I viewed this film as a streaming rental, and as such, cannot comment on the audio or visual quality of the disc. My review concerns the entertainment value of the film itself.
Bound to appeal to only a small subset of film buffs (though to them it should have an intense appeal), 'Enter the Void' is an exploration of the split seconds between life and death, and an experimental trip through method and technique of film-making. Gaspar Noe, the director of 'Irreversible', is the real star here, as this is above all the vision of the helmsman rather than a vehicle for its actors. In fact, several of the key players were first-time unprofessionals, although that made little difference if any toward the film's overall effectiveness. To me, success or failure for this particular sort of film is better measured by how well it communicates its ideas rather than by more traditional yardsticks - but having said that, it's also important to note that a reliance on unusual camera-work, disjointed narrative, and uncommon acting styles is probably going to turn many viewers away from the film before they give the ideas a chance to resonate.
A orphaned young man and his sister, both Westerners, are struggling to get by in Tokyo as a drug dealer and a stripper, respectively. In the early going of the film, the young man, Oscar, is set up for a sting by one of his buyers, and is shot by the police. For the next two hours or so, directer Gaspar Noe envisions the moments prior to death, borrowing heavily on flashback, the effects of the drug DMT, and THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD. Shot entirely from Oscar's point of view (the only time he appears on-screen is if he catches his reflection, or when he lifts out of his body after being shot), the camera zooms around the hyper-kinetic nightscape of Tokyo, as Oscar's spirit - or Oscar's imagination - zips back and forth between city streets and alleyways, between past and present, and - perhaps - between one state of existence and another.
Visually, this film is unlike any other I've seen, with its striking crane shots and laboriously complex style. Although I thought it captivating for the first half, the effect wore off soon and lost its freshness. Still, based only on the look of the film, I'd still recommend it to those who are intrigued by inventive camera work and idiosyncratic methods. I'm positive they would walk away with several technical insights and a sincere appreciation for the effort that went into making it.
Yet that's too small a group of film enthusiasts to reach for; there must be more to a film than the way it looks, so we are back to story. I feel as though I misinterpreted the film as I watched it - it was only after reading some of Mr. Noe's comments about his work, and discussing the movie with someone else that I feel I got the intent behind it all. Without those insights, I feel as though most viewers would have the same first impression that I had - that this was really a rather simple tale about death and reincarnation. Reading the director's comments put a different spin on the story, but, unfortunately, did not add any depth to it - instead it then became a roundabout story of death and nihilism. I don't have any objection to either interpretation, but the unavoidable fact is that the film could have made either point in half the time. Two hours and forty-one minutes of swooping around Tokyo from a bird's-eye vantage point becomes repetitive rather than unique at around the hour-and-a-half mark, and the entire process loses the edge that made it worthwhile in the first place.
Despite these flaws, there are certain film lovers to whom I would recommend the movie - especially those who are always looking for something out of the mainstream. It may not satisfy completely, but there is no doubt that 'Enter the Void' is reaching for something other than safe and sound storytelling. The story may not be as profound as the effort behind it intimates, and the length of the film may indicate self-indulgence from the director, but it is unique. That alone is valuable in an industry that seldom challenges its audience.
One last trivial note: This film has the most fantastic title sequence I've ever seen. It's almost as if it were designed to induce a sensual stimulation that replicates a drug high or an epileptic seizure. Kudos to the design team behind a most unusual introduction.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
So much loss...Oct. 26 2012
Anthony B. Cline
- Published on Amazon.com
I don't think we have enough time and distance yet to realize how new and singular Enter The Void actually is. Singular here is a very important adjective. Gaspar Noe's vision may vaguely conjure up David Lynch; particularly the yarn within the yarn of Mulholland Drive and, in turn, Inland Empire. But this is a film that sets out on its own two feet, that ventures into a world of memory and posthumous viewership. It addresses death in a manner that would make Georges Bataille proud, which is to say that dying becomes a renewal of spirit as formative as a second arrival. But, as with Bataille, that doesn't automatically mean that all is right again. All is lost.
I part with many critics who say that Noe's cinema is always one of nihilism and strained edginess. I Stand Alone is, in my opinion, the least of his efforts. It coasts on a wanton desire to shock, and suffers for that reason. But Irreversible, especially known for a few graphic scenes (and we all know what they are already), merges this transgression with consequence. Many people forget that, in the rewind that is the movie, we wind up in a bedroom with a naked couple in love. It seems as though the city decided to bleed all over their plans. You don't need to take a graduate level film theory class to see the dissonance. It's an inwardly beautiful world for two lovers; it's a chaotic, inconsiderate turned malevolent one once you step outside.
Likewise with Tokyo and Enter The Void. Tokyo doesn't care, just as Los Angeles, New York, London, and Paris don't care. It is a canvas for loss and disappointment, especially when one is sent there already adrift. And Oscar and Linda have always been adrift. There is no city, no concrete or neon, that is going to replace what's gone. In the west we like to see travel or exotic locale as generic enlightenment on screen. Don't come here for that. Our characters' places are quickly defined, and as soon as that happens we are carried into a numinous space. Tokyo becomes the metro of dreams, not some sightseeing tour to give us false revelations. And the rest of the film is one big dream or nightmare, twisting within itself and crawling back to pivotal moments.
This is now one of a handful of films that perceptively captures the subconscious or unconscious state. Film buffs can see its influences, most notably the pinks, oranges, and reds of Kenneth Anger's short works. And, yes, it evokes 2001 in its grand, albeit fractured scope. But it is also terribly sad and affecting, which is something I don't hear often enough from critics and reviewers. "Trippy" does not begin to do it justice, and is a term we probably should have retired in the sixties. It comes with more than that, with sibling separation, with love that flowers in death, with things that we can't get back. As with Irreversible, which this film surpasses by leaps and bounds, there is consequence here. The feeling of a void is palpable.
Directors do not owe us happy experiences. Noe doesn't give us one. I recall reading an article many years ago about something called "the impossible loss," referring to the residue a nightmare leaves us with. That is contained herein. It transcends the violence, the graphic sex (what sex isn't?), and anything else that is distractingly tangible. Everyone's enfant terrible is not just provoking in these two plus hours, he's kicking open the floodgates for new and unexplored textures. This film is about the impossible loss, and it moves along the columns of a dying mind. Take time with it. Watch it more than once.
43 of 63 people found the following review helpful
The unconscious can be counted on to remember...Dec 31 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
The primordial notion behind it is rebirth, but rebirth not only in the actual reincarnated physical sense, as is ultimately consummated, but also rebirth in the sense of being reintegrated with the breast; the notion of incest is absolutely pulsating throughout the entire film, and the metamorphosis of characters experienced throughout the sexual encounters is brutally direct in this sense. It would seem that the dream-like state one is immersed in after death is what allows the maximal realization of this basic instinctive drive, since it would be a state in which all repression is lifted, and desire can be experienced in its purest, most raw form without the nay-saying psychic censor beeping like crazy. This is clearly too threatening for a conscious "normal" person to face up to in their everyday experience, thus dreams and reality are distorted to conform to our particular compromise formations, allowing us to live day-to-day without being overburdened by the anxiety of facing our sexual urges head-on.
In its analytic scope, the Oedipal ties are clearly laid out as unresolved; the little boy experiences the death of his parents with detachment, the death of the rival (his father) and of his love object (his mother) occurring simultaneously, a kind of reverse deus ex machina operating in a perverse way, the rival is killed but in a way that destroys the princess they were fighting over. The impotence he experiences (double meaning) carries its weight retroactively in the notion that his mother tells him that she loves Oscar and his father, but in "very different ways", the Lacanian notion of "the name of the father" rearing its ugly head, the mother loves something the son can never provide to her (the phallus), thus the sexualized love cannot be realized. But in a moment of utmost mirroring of the father figure, Oscar enters the body of the father and sees himself through his eyes, watching his mother contort during sex and seeing "little Oscar" at the door, watching his parents.
As the mother figure died, Oscar must appeal to the next best thing in line, the mother's daughter... And the pact to remain faithful to his sister creates a sublimated metaspace that permits the diluted enactment of his desire to be engulfed and reattached to the primordial breast, at least as a promise. Linda apparently shares in some kind of dynamic of her own, as she kisses her brother in a sensuous way, she herself living her own Elektra symbolism through Oscar. Anyway, as Oscar enters the head of Alex, the rule-free realm of the symbolic permits him to experience his fantasy of incest with his sister, turned mother (in a flash), turned sister... The morbid desire for fulfillment compels him to enter for a brief period into the aborted fetus his sister produced, even the split and murdered off component of his sister representing a possibly desired destiny. Truly the "come inside me" line almost in itself justifies choosing English as the primary language for this film, and the encapsulated space of his sister's uterus creates the holding environment for the engulfment to occur... attached at last; the most poignant moment is when the baby is still attached to his sister (or is it his mother?) by the umbilical cord and is brought to the nipple, which is the only element seen clearly (this was a very smart move, from all standpoints, as a baby's eyesight is 20/400 at birth). This moment brings to a close the consummation of Oscar's fantasy, and thus is reborn in a literal sense as well as through purposeful incestuous regression. The unity engendered and its inherent hope are fractured with the cutting of the cord, at which moment the baby immediately starts crying and is taken away, the promise of eternal bondage destroyed thus again, entering the void of an existence deprived of any enduring physical contact, regardless of how many times one reincarnates, even when one enacts their most basic forbidden wishes. On a more controversial note, perhaps Linda experienced the feeling of completeness in herself as well; her desire to possess the phallus of her brother/father becoming alive in a bizarre way. As a female entity she became whole by producing a phallus (satisfying the dispelled notion of "[...]envy"), and with a mind-twisting denouement she not only possesses but produces the familial phallus she so longed for, finding peace at last.
44 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Beyond WordsOct. 26 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
The guy above did a wonderful job reviewing the film.
Anyway, this is the second Noe film I've seen (the first being Irreversible).
I just watched it 30 minutes ago in the theater and I can't sleep now.
It's 1:58 a.m. and I have film school tomorrow at 7.
I felt literally electrified when I walked out of the theater, my feet were jittery...
Only way I can even try to explain the film:
Imagine Eraserhead, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Requiem For A Dream, and Irreversible smashed together with a lot of POV shots.