Thursday, December 27, 2012

Enter the Void: Dec. 28 and 29th at the Vancity Theatre

...and while the metaphor is fresh, you know what film DID bust my block? Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void. It's astonishing - intense, profoundly trippy, utterly unique, and visually unforgettable, in ways that the "bigger and better explosions/ monsters/ sets/ violence" schools of filmmaking mentioned below cannot approximate (though in a more cinephilic world, it wouldn't be hard to imagine Noe working a 3-D Imax movie. He does like to make bold, big statements, it seems - seems more comfortable with hyperbole, excess, and bold gestures than with, say, subtlety and humility, and this doesn't seem to rule out Hollywood finding the man; who knows what the future holds). Enter the Void offers a one-of-a-kind experience in cinematic immersion - a psychedelic neon candystore-vision of Tokyo, experienced by an out-of-body soul on a journey. I will not disclose if this soul is tripping on hallucinogens or one newly dead or some other option, but I will mention that the Tibetan Book of the Dead, on which the film is loosely modelled, was in fact used as a template for psychedelic experience by people like Timothy Leary and Ralph Metzner and Richard "Baba Ram Dass" Alpert - who actually wrote a book called The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, in those heady hippie days. So it works either way: however you view it, you're in for one hell of a trip.

And be assured: you don't actually have to subscribe to any of the ideas on hand to find the film's visualization of them intensely rewarding. I'm not much interested in mystical/ religious models of the universe, but I loved this movie. I can't begin, frankly, to imagine what Tibetan Buddhists, or people who ARE seriously involved in some spiritual practice or another, would MAKE of it; I *think* the intended audience is cinephiles and psychedelicists, but who knows who-all has found it rewarding? One wonders if Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner have seen it? (Presumably Timothy Leary has not, though depending on your model of the universe...).

There is so much more to be said about Enter the Void, but how can I speak about it at all without taking something away from your experience of viewing it? I can't; I've said too much as it is. Go and see for yourself, when it screens theatrically this weekend at the Vancity Theatre. And if you should choose to squeegee your third eye very clean, or prop a wedge in to hold open your doors of perception - by whatever means you choose to do such things - let me assure you that the film will amply reward your efforts. Should you be afraid, do take my word that it is nowhere as traumatic an experience as, say, Irreversible or I Stand Alone, though it's not without its intense bits; it is safe, though by no means gentle, and if you do start to find it unsettling, well, you know the song, eh? (That was inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead too. Or maybe the psychedelic experience, or, er, The Psychedelic Experience, or...). Thanks to the Vancity Theatre for running this again! A great film to end 2012 on!).

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