Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void by Lena Valencia

Gaspar Noé’s new film is a psychedelic experience of Tokyo shown through the eyes of the deceased protagonist.

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 113 Fall 2010
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Enter The Void 01

Paz de la Huerta as Linda in Enter the Void, directed by Gaspar Noé. An IFCFilms release.

Anyone who’s ever had a mushroom trip described to them knows that the trip itself is kind of a “had-to-be-there” experience, and this is the case with Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void: summary really doesn’t do the film justice. Because there is very little to be gained from plot or dialogue, a much more pleasant viewing experience is in store if you tune them out and just focus on Noé’s visual wizardry. The opening credits are both a type-nerd’s dream and an epileptic’s nightmare—titles displayed in neon flash across the screen with loud techno music blasting behind them (duuude). The film opens with Linda (Paz de la Huerta) gazing at a plane in the Tokyo sky from the point of view of her brother Oscar (Nathaniel Brown)—his literal POV, along with the sound of his breathing and the blinking of his eyes. Within the first 15 minutes Oscar is killed in a drug bust in a club and the rest of the movie is spent toggling back and forth through past and present as Oscar’s soul swoops and spirals through a Noé-ified version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The camera is inside Oscar, so it goes wherever he does. Noé takes full advantage of Oscar’s spirit state to transport the camera up, over, around, and through his dingy, neon Tokyo (and even inside some of its residents). He toys with cinematic clichés as well: the sentimental sun-dappled memory; the gritty, horrific flashback; and the animated drug-trip scene are all purposefully represented. Thankfully, the bloated and pretentious premise of the film has glimmers of over-the-top humor—in one of the final scenes, Oscar-Cam zips through copulating couples in a garish love hotel where rainbow vapor trails stream out of genitalia. As Noé obfuscates the film’s timeline—various snippets of Oscar’s past play out of order and repeat—a biography is set on shuffle mode. With mega-budget 3D blockbusters packing multiplexes, Enter the Void is spectacle at its most artful. Perhaps there are some more intellectual tropes at play in Void (film director as ghost? cinema as hallucinogen?), but, as is the case with most psychedelics, it’s better to just sit back and enjoy the pretty colors flying at you.

Enter the Void will be released in selected cinemas in New York City on September 24th.

Lena Valencia is a writer living in Brooklyn. She is also BOMB’s Web Editor.

Matthew Barney and Gaspar Noé
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Matthew Barney and Gaspar Noé
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P Orridge 5 Body

I met Verne Dawson while sitting beside him at Table 23 at the celebration for Dream Machine: Brion Gysin at the New Museum in New York. Dawson revealed a cosmic process previously unsuspected by me: the genii of the 22 paths of the Kabbalah and their correspondence to the 22 major cards of the Tarot.

Fred Tomaselli by David Shields

Shields, author of the much-debated book on appropriation, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, used the epistolary method, via email, to discuss the influence of California’s counterculture on Tomaselli’s visionary paintings.

Originally published in

BOMB 113, Fall 2010

Featuring interviews with Charline Von Heyl, Fred Tomaselli, Mika Rottenberg, Thomas Hirschhorn, Adam Phillips, Charlie Smith, David Toop, and Jan Lauwers.

Read the issue
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