Enter the Void

Director: Gaspar NoƩ
Year Released: 2009
Rating: 3.5

The explosive, stroboscopic title sequence (set to LFO's "Freak") sets you up for what follows properly: it's an unorthodox, experimental picture that can be difficult to endure. After being killed in a drug-bust at a bar in Tokyo, a young man's spirit/essence (Nathaniel Brown) follows around his wayward sister (Paz de la Huerta) and cohorts around town, overseeing their trail of self-destruction. Noé's interviews seem to be trying to throw everyone off as to his real intentions, but the man is clearly a moralist and a spiritualist: the behavior (addiction, self-abuse, prostitution) of the two siblings is linked to their parents' death (in a car accident) and their being raised separately; his omniscient camera suggests the durability of the soul. He carefully wraps his pro-life, pro-family ideology in a haze of effects and graphic sexuality: inside the otherwise corrupt "Love Hotel," there is a possibility for fruition and 'actual' love to blossom (his view on drugs, like his view on homosexuality, is decidedly ambiguous). Noé is also, to my eyes, one of the few filmmakers working to incorporate the work of the avant-garde: Michael Snow's La region centrale, Peter Kubelka's Arnulf Rainer, Paul Sharits' T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G and Jonas Åkerlund's video for Prodigy ("Smack My Bitch Up") are all influences (not to mention Kubrick and Wong Kar-Wai). Not everyone will see the humanity in this, but the filmmaker is not a populist.