Friday, June 10, 2011


Hopefully you guys have been checking out my reviews for the flud watches website in addition to this blog (links for recent flud reviews are on the right, or click the "flud reviews tag" on the right as well). The content from the old flud website is gone, but thankfully i saved everything. Here's the 2nd installment of older reviews that aren't up anymore. And make sure to check out the new flud site if you havent already...

I cant remember the last time I was in a movie theater when the audience ripped open in applause simply because of the opening credits. Maybe it was because the somewhat controversial director Gaspar Noe hasn’t released a feature in almost 8 years. Or maybe its because the opening credits to his latest film; Enter The Void have more energy and excitement than most films have in their entirety. Seriously, I haven’t gotten so hype from an opening credit sequence since the first time I saw David Lynch’s Lost Highway in the theater years ago. Enter The Void, centers around the relationship between a low level drug dealing brother (Oscar) and his stripper sister (Linda) who’s parents were killed when they were little kids. After their parents’ death, Oscar and Linda make a promise to never separate from each other, but that pact is soon broken when they’re sent to live in different foster homes. After years of being apart, they finally reunite, living together in Japan. However, they’re separated once again, this time permanently, when Alex gets set up by his friend and killed by the police. Although Alex’s body is dead, his spirit still remains on earth, and we spend the rest of the movie looking through Alex’s point of view as he watches over his sister (still keeping the promise he made to never leave his sister). The POV perspective isn’t as bad as cloverfield, but at 2 hours and 23 minutes, your eyes my need a break so you might want to look off to the side for a few seconds.
The acting in Enter The Void is nowhere near as good as the acting in Noe’s other films. In fact, this is probably his weakest film when it comes to acting (when you go from your last movie headlined by an amazing actor like Vincent Cassel to having 2 mumbling 20-something year olds front your cast you notice the difference) . But at the same time, this isn’t a performance-driven movie. Enter The Void relies more one CGI, trippy sequences, (sometimes) dizzy editing and dark atmospheric music. Unlike Gaspar Noe’s previous work, there aren’t any pregnant women getting punched in the stomach (I stand alone) or faces bashed in with the butt end of a fire extinguisher (Irreversible). I think by now anyone who’s been following this movie knows that many people are comparing Enter The Void to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddessy. Now, Enter The Void obviously doesn’t have the same impact as 2001, but at the same time, watching Enter The Void is like watching the last 20-30 minutes of 2001, except for over 2 hours. No matter what, you have to respect what Gaspar Noe did. With each film, he becomes and more technically advances, and manages to push some kind of boundary, weather it be special effects or how we view violence in film. If you were able to make it through Irreversible, you shouldnt have a problem sitting though this.

Images & Stills from Kubricks '2001'...

Images & stills from 'Enter The Void'. Cleary by looking at the pictures above you can see where Gaspar Noe drew a lot of inspiration...

In addition to drawing inspiration from the imagery of 2001, its also been brought up on many different movie sites and blogs that there may have been some influence from the great russian film; 'Come and See' in the design of the 'Enter the Void' movie poster. And even though the 2 films arent very similar and dont have much in common plot-wise, they are both equally intense and difficult to sit through at times. With both films, you feel like you need a break afterwards...
'Come and See' (1985)
'Enter The Void'

I gotta say, in the four years i’ve attended the new york film festival (inland empire, the wrestler, cache, etc) this is by far the most memorable movie i’ve seen so far. And i STILL have one more movie to see (Todd Solondz’s latest, so i’m sure i’ll be in for some dark comedy about pedophilia and dysfunctional suburban family life). This new film proves that Michael Haneke has become one of the very few directors to NOT make a “bad” film (…yet). In Michael Haneke’s latest film; “The White Ribbon”, he channels the spirit of classic german cinema (specifically; “Young Torless” and “Coup De Grace”…two movies you all should see if you havent) in both; subject matter and beautiful black & white cinematography. He gives a slight nod to the filmmaking style of Carl Theodore Dryer (a director i just recently got in to) as well as Tarkosfky. Haneke also revisits some of themes of one of his most recent films; “Cache”. ”The White Ribbon takes place in a small german town just before the start of WW1. The town starts to change after a series of mysterious and often gruesome (somewhat sadistic) events occur one after another. By the end of the movie, two of the townspeople start to put the pieces together as to who’s responsible. Through out the movie until its chilling end, you start to slowly see the seeds of violence within youth grow, and how they were planted. Seeing that the youth in this movie are of a particular age, set in a particular time period (early 1900’s), this film is also a look at the growth of fascism and the how those seeds were planted as well. One major hint are the white ribbons two of the children are forced to wear around their arm at the order of their father. Do the white ribbons foreshadow the swastika armbands that nazi soldiers will be wearing in the future? And similar to “Cache”, Haneke hints and lightly pokes at major events that make you wanna dig further. For example, one could look at “Cache” as a movie about “white guilt” and race issues in society. In the film he just casually mentions the algerian massacre, which serves as an important backstory for the 2 main characters in the film (also, is it any coincidence that the random person the main character gets in to an argument with outside the police station is a dark skinned african? for those of you who havent seen “Cache”, and don’t know what im talking about…make it a priority to see it). “The White Ribbon” now has me quite interested in the birth of fascism, and germany’s history leading up to WW1 (i was on google & wikipedia after i got home from watching the movie, lol). This is easily one of the 3 best movies of the year so far, and puts Haneke up there with all the “masters of cinema” (in my opinion).

'Young Torless' (1966)
'Coup De Grace' (1976)
'The White Ribbon' (2009). Even though this film was made in 2009, you really felt like you were watching a film that was made years ago (courtesy of Haneke's decision to make the film black & white)

Its nice to know that independent/art-house directors are trying their hands at films and genres outside of the typical slowly paced, depressing dramas they’re often associated with. Nicholas Refn, is one of the most misunderstood directors out right now. Refn’s films like the ridiculously underrated Fear X and Bronson have brought on a comparison to the likes of Stanley Kubrick (which is something I imagine no up and coming filmmaker wants). Being compared to one of the greats like Kubrick must not only be intimidating for a young director, but give people high expectations to live up to. This movie came out at the perfect time. Ive been revisiting all of Nicholas Refn’s films over the last few months; Fear X, Bronson and The Pusher Trilogy (the movie he’s most known for). Valhalla stars Danish film star; Mads Miklesen (the villain from Casino Royale for those unfamiliar with his work), as “One-Eye”: A prisoner in 1000 A.D. Who’s forced to fight other prisoners to the death for the enjoyment of their captors. His ruthless fighting ability has not only left him undefeated, but it slowly builds him a reputation among the other prisoners. After escaping from prison, he joins up with a group of religious crusaders set on claiming on a land, which just happens to already be inhabited by a certain group of people called “Native Americans”. Kubrick’s influence is nowhere to be found in Valhalla Rising. If anything, you could say the structure of the film draws inspiration from fellow danish director; Lars Von Trier. Valhalla Rising is told chapters (something Von Trier is known for in many of his films), and soundtracks (very similar to the soundtrack Brian Eno did for Fear X) leaves you with an easy feeling, similar to the soundtrack in Von Trier’s most recent; Antichrist. The one-on-one fight scenes are realistically brutal and entertaining. Although thats not all the movie is about. In fact, the trailer to this movie can be somewhat deceiving. The fighting scenes between the other prisoners really only take place in the first 30 minutes or so of the film. The middle of the film is where things get interesting (and at times a little troublesome and out of control). The film turns in to heavy handed religious symbolism, and there’s very long stretches without much dialoge. Some may find this part of the movie boring, while others my look at it as a work of art. Either way, the ending is worth sitting through the troublesome middle part.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...