Monday, September 21, 2009


It was with much anticipation that I was going to be seeing Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void at this year's Toronto Film Festival.I had previously seen I Stand Alone at TIFF, knowing nothing about it before the screening, and afterwards having a new favourite filmmaker. Next was the rapey, head-bashing-inny, Irreversible, another masterpiece in nihilistic filmmaking. Now came Noe's epic, the 2 1/2 hour plus Enter the Void. I avoided finding out anything, wanting to go in with as little info as possible. Even after reading the one line imdb plot synopsis, I felt I knew too much.
As the lights dimmed and I took another swig of my large Coke I prepared for a trip akin to David's in 2001. I wasn't far off either. The film follows a drug dealer/junkie, Oscar and his misadventures in Tokyo. The film is shot from his POV, even to the point where we hear the thoughts in his head, like, "This is the good stuff" referring to the drugs he is going to smoke, and "This stuff is shit!". However, once those drugs kick in, Noe does his best to give the viewer as real an experience as Oscar himself. I won't go to much into detail, but it did remind me (and I'm sure everyone else who's seen it) of the end of 2001.

Later, his buddy Alex shows up, explains the Tibetan Book of the Dead, setting up the rest of the movie that I wouldn't dream of spoiling, and off they go to visit Oscar's stripper sister.

Enter the Void could possibly be the most cinematic film I've ever seen. After Irreversible I remember thinking how much would be lost in viewing it on even the largest home theater system. However, watching Enter the Void in anything but a cinema would seem ludicrous. Whereas Irreversible at least had some shocking and entertaining moments and characters that the audience is intrigued with to go with it's style, Enter the Void is all about the style. It's absolutely hypnotic.

Now here is where my warning should come in, and dammit, please heed it. I was a foolish, arrogant bastard, laughing merrily while going to the confection area and ordering a large Coke. Now anyone who has tried this Coke drink (also known as Coca Cola) knows that it is a very delicious drink. Heck, I'd go as far as to say it could be one of the best beverages out there. So I strutted in the theater, sipping my Coke from a straw without a worry in the world. "Fuck not drinking Coke" I thought as I took my seat in the crowded theater.

Now about an hour and forty five minutes into the film I realized the error of my ways. After being completely mesmerized for the running time suddenly my bladder was demanding my full attention. It's hard to fall under the film's spell when your thoughts are something like, "Oh my God do I have to pee. Should I go to the bathroom? But I don't want to miss it. On imdb it said this is the short version so just hold it in punk".

Shortly thereafter I realized imdb was as full of shit as I was full of piss. If only I had taken an aisle seat. Was missing 5 minutes of the film worth enjoying the rest of the film without crossed legs and fears of waterfalls suddenly appearing on screen?

I decided to stick it out, and though I was begging the film to end so I could empty my aching bladder, I still really loved it. In fact, I will definitely see it again, in the theater, with a small Coke.

Now some folk may call Enter the Void pretentious, which I guess can't be argued. But in my mind some filmmakers are totally allowed to be that way. Lynch, Jodorowsky, Noe and others know a lot more about their personal artistic vision than anyone else does, so let them do their thing. I know some people who seem to want to put restrictions on some of the more visionary directors. Kind of like, "Okay, you made your crazy, personal films, now conform so we can take you seriously". Heck even Ebert essentially said that the ideas in Noe's film are shallow, but to hear Noe explain, "I'm just showing the story of a little mammal amongst millions of other little mammals" is modest yet ambitious at the same time. If the filmmaker isn't audacious then it's never mentioned that the film is shallow. A lot of Woody Allen's films (most recent anyway) won't change the way anyone is living, but since he is telling a linear and fairly simple story, "shallow" never even enters the picture (also, was Beyond the Valley of the Dolls incredibly deep?). Irregardless (yes, irregardless holmes) Enter the Void will live on long after any detractors and Noe is one of the top writer/directors to look out for. You'd really be missing a once in a lifetime opportunity if you miss this when it comes out in theaters, so I urge to go to you local multiplex, where I'm certain it will be playing on multiple screens, and see it.

1 comment:

  1. This was one of those movies I wish I saw in theatre - but my island only shows crappy mainstream movies at the movie theatre. I was VERY impressed by Enter the Void when I saw it on my computer. One of the few movies I've ever seen in a movie theatre was The Dark Knight, and the first time I watched it on DVD, I was underwhelmed, and it took me a hile to get used to viewing it on my TV. So I can see why you urged everyone to see Enter the Void in theatre.

    As for your urination story - that is why I avoid food and drink at movie theatres. The same goes for rock concerts, if I'm close to the stage.