Friday, December 10, 2010

The King's Speech. Thoughts ...

Here's a film that has been packaged and processed for the Oscars. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad film, it's just a very safe one. There's not much of a rebellious cry for originality and it is just a film that wants to entertain and touch as many viewers as possible. Nothing wrong with that I suppose but definitely not my cup of tea, if you know what I mean. Colin Firth is the titular king, he has a stutter that has been with him since his childhood and he decides to engage a speech therapist played by the very fine Geoffrey Rush. There's not many surprises that await the viewer in The King's Speech, just conventionality and British royal wisdom. The performances are above average, especially Firth, Rush and Helena Bonham Carter as the king's wife, in a non flashy but effectively realized performance. Suffice to say, I dug most of the scenes between Firth and Rush but felt like it was all too facile for these -let's face it- great actors. Come Oscar time you will hear their names but as good as the film is, it doesn't deserve any of the buzz it is getting in the press.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gaspar Noe's new head trip

Enter The Void (NR) ★★★★

Gaspar Noe never seems to settle for a conventional narrative. His latest is called Enter The Void and runs at more than 160 minutes. It is long, flawed, repetitive but is also something I have never seen before in cinema and I do mean that as a good thing. If he shocked us all with a 10 minute rape scene in Irreversible, the shock is not as nasty here but he instead decides to resort to trippy psychedelia and images that represent an other worldly existence. His inspiration is clearly Kubrick, most notably the last 20 or so minutes of 2001 expanded into 2 hours. Although there is a story at hand here and a clear belief of an after life, Noe's interests vary from the connection of drugs to the after-life and the spirituality that comes in living above everything else.

Taking place in Japan, the film uses the colorful and surreal imagery of this country to tell the story of two Americans -brother and sister- that are literally lost in translation, but don't worry it isn't a sequel, there is no Bill Murray in Enter The Void, nor is there any Scarlett and her infamous butt. The brother, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) has turned into a junkie that is hooked on the drug DMT (the chemical your brain unleashes when you're dying) and his sister Linda has resorted to stripping for money- she also has a semi creepy affair with her Japanese manager. The brother gets shot and basically wanders around the entire film in an undisclosed life form going through flashbacks, present time and another dimension.

Talking about creepy, there's hints of Incest throughout the film although it never really is fully revealed, what that's all about? don't pay too much attention and just let filmmaker Noe transport you into a world of cinema you have never sene before. Suffice to say, I dug this film quite a bit because of its visionary reaches and the way Noe tried to bring a new way of expression to a cinematic medium that has all but failed in inventiveness the last few years. There's no shortage of originality here, although I felt completely drained by the time the film had ended. It's an experience that you will likely not forget, to say the least and I'm looking forward to his next twisted venture into surreality and cinematic boundaries.

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