8.24.2011

A twisted brother and sister, and some final thoughts on a project's end


Seven months ago—two months before this blog even existed—I thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool to watch at least one film that I haven’t seen before from every year, 1928 to 2010, in chronological order?”  Seven months and over 100  films later, the project is complete, and damn, I’m exhausted.  But, all told, I made some truly great discoveries, ranging from overlooked and forgotten gems (Radley Metzger’s Score, anyone?) to major and minor classics (The Bad and the Beautiful, Atlantic City, Cabaret) that I finally made myself get around to seeing.  Around the 1953 mark (back in April) I had another thought: “hey, wouldn’t it be neat to post some of my jottings-down about these films and also get to play around with some screen-capture software?”  And so a blog was born.  Not to worry, I’ve got a devil of a new project already lined up; it’s smaller in scope than this behemoth (making a list of nearly a hundred films to work through in order—what’s wrong with me?) but one that I’m quite excited about.  Let’s just say that it will involve all manner of cinematic vice (sleaze, sex, gore, etc.), and that parental discretion is advised (as the cable channels used to say).

But before I say goodbye to my chronological viewing project, I should say a few words about my last entry: Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void (2010).  Where to begin?  In short: I dug it, right down to the holy-shit-he’s-actually-going-there vaginal POV shot of an ejaculating penis head.  It occurred to me that this movie would actually pair nicely with Malick’s Tree of Life (2011); they’re both formally audacious, truly mind-bending films that attempt to take on big spiritual issues (birth, death, reincarnation, the family-as-eternal-cycle, and so on).  Whereas Malick’s film takes place in a kind of suburban Eden, however, Noe’s film not surprisingly is set in an expressionistically hellish Tokyo populated by various breeds of junkies and lowlifes, where even the neon itself looks sinister (see above).  The plot concerns a disembodied soul looking to transmigrate after the young American drug dealer to whom it has heretofore been attached is shot to death.  Noe audaciously shoots almost the entire film from the soul's “perspective” as it hovers over Tokyo, occasionally projecting into the heads of various human bodies (often while those bodies are having sex with the dealer’s sister, with whom the dealer shares an inappropriately close bond), at times even projecting itself into other body parts.  Hence the shot, mid-coitus, from the POV of a vagina.  Think of it as The Lady in the Lake plus Being John Malkovich plus Google Earth plus medical photography, on LSD.  It’s grim and mildly shocking stuff, but it’s generally a worthwhile effort, and the camerawork (mostly long takes) is languid rather than aggressive.  It looks and moves like no other film I’ve seen, really, and that alone makes it worthy of some attention.

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