Monday, February 21, 2011

Why Enter The Void Is the Prototypical 2010 Film

Enter The Void is a film which follows the adventures of a drug addict after he dies. We follow him as his carelessness destroys not only his life but his sister's and his friend Alex's. The film is two and a half hours in his head, one long very pretty, very depressing drug dream.

This film is like an extreme version of most of the films I watched in 2010. Some cutting-edge visuals, stylistically innovative, but ultimately lacking in substance or meaning. I'm not saying that there's no meaning, its just that the meaning is shallow compared to the effort and time used to convey the meaning.

Gasper Noe said that he created the film to show the emptiness of humanity. If that is the case, then why portray both an animal side to sexuality and a mystical side? And if death is simply a really long drug dream, then the movie isn't really about the emptiness of humanity, but the emptiness of the protagonist. If he wanted to show the emptiness of humanity, then he should have shown us a seemingly fulfilling life and how it was actually empty. Instead, he gives us a pathetic example of a human being and lets us spend two and a half hours roaming around his cranium. Thanks a lot, Noe.

However, visually the film was stunning. Very 2001-ish with a lot of neon and fractal-type images. I can't recommend it for all that, though. One other thing, if you are interested in watching the film, despite my half-heartedness, there is a lot of fairly graphic sexuality here, and at times it feels more like a porn film than mainstream. For myself, as well as for others, I would not recommend this film just because of that. 3/5

But what does all this have to do with 2010? So many of the praised films of 2010 are much like this one-- either filled with miserable lives, or full of stunning visuals but having little substance.

Black Swan-- Amazing visuals decorating a pretty simple, predictable film about psychological collapse.

Inception-- Nolan tells you exactly what will happen in the second half of the film, and fulfills his promise with amazing visuals, but is completely predictable.

The Social Network-- A bunch of miserable characters told in a very entertaining fashion.

127 Hours-- Danny Boyles style is remarkable, but it is still a story of a guy whose arm gets stuck under a rock for 127 hours. We know what's going to happen, so the rest of it is style.

I could go on, but you get the point. I'm not saying that these films aren't good-- again there are a lot of stylistic innovation and clever visuals. But that doesn't make these movies great. There simply isn't enough theme or mental stimulation to make them excellent, in my opinion. As far as I'm concerned, a great film stimulates both the mind and the senses. For the majority of films I've seen from this last year my senses have been stirred, but my mind has only been tickled, not challenged.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree on Inception, Social Network and 127 Hours.

    Inception has plenty of theme to dig into. Tons. You've got elements of obsession, memory, loss, guilt, redemption, aging. Lots of themes that are all cleverly expanded upon if you care to look for them in the film.

    The Social Network plays much more straight as a tale, but within it there are issues of modern narcissism, betrayal, the drive to achieve greatness, perspective, and even some themes dealing with the heart. It's all there.

    And 127 Hours is a bit more simplistic in this matter, though it does deal with the will to survive, the importance of relationships to give one's life meaning, and all that jazz. But what the film really excels at is allowing you to feel the moments in a visceral way. This makes those simplistic themes more personal and come alive in a deeper way than they otherwise might. There is a reason the ending of that film has made me lose myself each time I've seen it. The visceral punch of it brings it all home and there is nothing else to feel but the beauty that is living.