Now available on Blu ray, DVD, and Netflix Instant:
ENTER THE VOID (Dir. Gaspar Noé, 2009)
After beautifully bombastic credits, which Quentin Tarantino called "Maybe best credit scene of the decade...one of the greatest in cinema history", we see Toyko through the eyes of Nathaniel Brown, a young American drug dealer.
The camera acts as his vision, we only see Brown's face when he looks in the mirror.
Brown smokes a few hits of dimethyltryptamine, aka DMT, and his mind goes on a surreal CGI journey resembling the "Beyond the Infinite" climax of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY or the wormhole from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE.
A friend (Cyril Roy) comes by Brown's apartment and accompanies him through the neon drenched streets to a club called "The Void" in order to do a drug deal.
Roy speaks of "The Tibetan Book Of The Dead", a book he lent to Brown, explaining how one's spirit sticks around for a while after death before it is re-incarnated.
When the drug deal at the club goes horribly wrong, Brown is shot by police in the restroom and his spirit does just that - it hovers above watching the people he knew and flashes back to the major events of his life.
He watches his erotic dancer sister (Paz de la Huerta) as she reacts to news of her brother, and we learn of their shared childhood past - most traumatically the violent automobile death of their parents they witnessed from the back seat of the car.
We follow Brown, point of view-wise, through these tangents over and over and it's an engrossing yet at times highly disturbing experience.
It can be frustrating too - I loved it at first, feeling like I was inside something instead of just the normal sensation of watching a movie, then I hated it for a bit wishing Brown's spirit didn't linger so long when watching his sister have sex with her seedy nightclub owner boss (Masato Tanno).
But, hey, in the afterlife what else are you going to do?
I ended up loving it again as it wound its strands into a jarring conclusion.
There's a WAKING LIFE-like philosophical nature to its flow of imagery, and a raw energy to the aftermath our decased protagonist watches that took me in and, well, kind of freaked me out.
With it's 2 hour and 23 minute running time, ENTER THE VOID is too long (there's an extended "Director's Cut" on Blu ray and DVD if one doesn't agree with that), but it's a vivid, overwhelming, and incredibly crafted work.
Director Noé, whose stunning yet also disturbing IRREVERSIBLE blindsided critics back in 2002, is developing a visionary style that can take film goers on an unforgettable ride - though one that may test their patience.
Curious movie lovers looking to venture away from the mainstream into uncertain waters should take him up on this particular challenge.