Friday, September 17, 2010

Death as the Ultimate Trip

Enter the Void (2009) - Noé
 photo 2e4766f8-5879-4980-bd45-ce18e991e024_zps094dbb42.jpg
Quite possibly the worst film I've seen in a long time. I'm not saying this because the film is hard-to-take in a typical ugly-side-of-the-humanity, 'Gaspar Noé way' but because it's so painfully boring.

Obviously Noé was going for the psychedelic visual masterpiece á la 2001 Space Odyssey ditching the narrative in the gutter, since the plot is so insipid it had to be intentional- it reminded me of the worst of boy filmmakers' (Luc Besson and Danny Boyle) work, if they ever made R rated films: Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is a small time druggie/dealer in Japan who gets killed by the police and spend the rest of the movie floating around watching over his beloved younger sister Lisa (Paz de la Huerta), a stripper, until he is conceived (graphically) and reincarnated again.

Acting is unbearable- two male lead (non actors) are horrendous and de la Huerta again proves she is nothing more than a hot body. In an interview that came with the press kit, Noe talks about wanting to do a film in Japan for a long time because it's so fascinating and since Tokyo is THE city of neon lights. Funny, because in his hands, Tokyo becomes the dullest city in the world.

He really tries hard to invite the audience to FEEL the movie with the first 20 minutes with continuous POV shots, then after Oscar's death, over the shoulder shots of him from his childhood till his death (again!), then overhead crane shots for the rest of the film. The problem is this: The CGI enhanced visuals are at first somewhat impressive. But then it goes on forever, repeating the same boring overhead gliding-over again and again. When the camera descends into and out of various holes and lighting fixtures for the umpteenth time, you feel like you are sitting in a personal cinematic hell. There is really no point looking at your watch anymore- it is purgatory. Fitting. But I'm pretty sure this isn't what Noé intended.

It really does not have that hypnotic power they intended at all. It's worse than blurry visual clusterfuck of Michael Bay action sequence. Noé probably thought he was making a Kubrick but ends up with Transformers painted with Day-Glo. I honestly think 3D is a perfect match for him. If you are still curious about this film, I strongly advise you against seeing it sober.

Roller Derby - Way of Life

Brutal Beauty: Tale of the Rose City Rollers (2010) - Mabry
What's not to like about seeing sexy tattooed girls in hot pants rollerskating really fast, going round and round, bumping off each other violently? Roller derby seems like a dream sport for any respectable punkabilly. Brutal Beauty follows the Rose City Rollers in Portland, OR. as they compete in the 'bouts'. They play in teams like High Rollers, Break Neck Betties and Guns N Rollers. The girls are dedicated bunch. They all have day jobs but when it's the derby season, they practice 3-4 days a week. Roller derby is more than a hobby, it's an effective anger management, psychotherapy and, um, way of life. Players go by their flamboyant alter ego names, Blood Clottia, Cadillac, Smack Ya Sideways, Marollin' Monroe, White Flight... They have dedicated superfans who travel with them when they go to regional and national games.

So how is roller derby played? There are Pivots, there are Blockers and there are Jammers. Even after Wheels of Justice (the all-star team for regional/national competitions) coach Rob Lobster eloquently demonstrates at work using donuts as players (he works at the famed Voodoo Donuts in Portland), I still have absolutely no idea how it's played. Don't matter though. It's all about the girrrl power, it's about comradery and friendship, it's about competitiveness and it will save your soul.

Brutal Beauty barely touches upon subjects like being role models or seen as sex symbols.
Don't matter, it's endlessly entertaining as the girls shout colorful obscenities at each other, tumble, elbow, we share their passion for the game. The film made me look up the local roller derby league. I might get hooked, too. Drew Barrymore's movie didn't make me do that.

Review at Twitch