Monday, February 14, 2011

Admiration: The Cinematography and Execution of Enter the Void

Enter the Void (dir. Noé, 2010)

Ever since it premiered at Cannes 2010, Enter the Void has been polarizing cinephiles left and right.  Every review I read either finds the film admirable or insufferable.  Much like Lars Von Trier's Antichrist--which premiered on the Lido the previous year--there is no middle ground in the war with this film.  You either like it or you don't.  After spending most of my afternoon being completely enraptured by Noé's experiment, I think I fall in the former camp.  I mean...can you really hate a film with these opening credits:

Answer: NO.  That is such a dynamic way to start a film and plays so heavily into the energy of the film overall.  And let it be known, this is not a film about plot.  Yes it is about a drug dealer in Tokyo who gets shot and dies and then follows his sister around as a ghost while also reflecting on their history and the events leading up to his death.  I get that.  BUT.  That is not what the film is really about.  This film is about the visuals entirely. The whole film is shot POV through the brother drug-dealer/ghost.  The entire film.  Sometimes it's Aronofsky-esque and follows around the back of his head.  Most times it's as if the lens is his eyes.  Sometimes he does drugs and we go on the trip with him. He dies and we die along with him.  There's even a sequence in the film where **SPOILER**we're inside his sister's vagina as she's having sex and then we watch the impregnation from inside her.  It's absolutely bananas and absolutely mesmerizing. 

 Nobody else in cinema is doing with a camera what Noé is doing.  All year long I obsess over the awards race and finding out who gave the best performances, which film had the best musical score, yadda yadda yadda.  I know that the final outcome is usually complete bullshit, but the fact that this film is not recognized for its cinematography is flabbergasting.  Much like Noé's last film Irréversible, he plays around with all the tools of cinema.  He plays with his plot, with chronology, with where the camera can and should go, composition, color, everything!  And this film is much more sophisticated than Irréversible.  You can tell that Noé has improved upon his own techniques.  It's a master class in innovation and experiment, and perhaps the closest thing the art house cinemas will get to actual avant-garde.  

If you hadn't noticed, I'm completely blown away by the film and what it does with the conventions of camera-work.  I'm disappointed that I missed this in theaters, and even more disappointed that I missed it in 3-D.  I'm a huge naysayer in 3-D but this is a film that would've pushed the boundaries and really used the gimmick to enhance the experience.  I'm sad that I couldn't be there!  

The film also uses Tokyo to wonderful effect.  The neon lights, the frenetic energy, the sleazy underbelly all enhance the film's exoticism.  Please if you have any interest in the trailer below, seek this film out.


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