Gaspar Noé’s Trip Into the “Void”

Gaspar Noé’s Trip Into the “Void” (photo)

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Gaspar Noé is no stranger to controversy, as 2002’s “Irreversible” — and, specifically, its nine-minute single-take depiction of violent rape — firmly established his reputation as a boundary-pushing provocateur. Almost a decade later, he returns to feature filmmaking with this week’s extravagant “Enter the Void,” a similarly audacious work about a teenage drug dealer’s (Nathaniel Brown) post-death experiences as a ghost watching over his stripper sister (Paz de la Huerta) in neon-lit Tokyo.

Utilizing multiple points of view, immersing itself in extended “2001”-style drug hallucinations, and offering up a mélange of sex, violence, spirituality, philosophy and one unbearably harrowing car crash sequence, it’s a film that risks being silly in search of the sublime, and thus provokes unlike anything else this cinematic awards season will have to offer. Shortly after introducing the longer original version of the film at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, Noé spoke about the reasons for creating different cuts, the project’s film noir ancestry, and the illicit substances that most inspired him.

Why the extended layoff between “Enter the Void” and “Irreversible”?

In the case of this one, it was because the movie is quite expensive (as you might have guessed), and because it took a long time to shoot it — there are many, many scenes in the movie, and many things that required a crane and/or visual effects. And also because the movie was not only sexually explicit and very experimental, but also because it’s so full of visual effects that it could not be done for cheap. All these things, plus the fact that we didn’t have famous actors, made the movie kind of hard to finance. Of course, after “Irreversible,” I was proposed many scripts by different producers, but I was really waiting to do this feature, which I had in my mind before “Irreversible.” So I was saying no to many other proposals. I was sticking to my original will.

At the end, Wild Bunch, who had been taking care of the world sales of “Irreversible,” decided to put the money in, and they introduced me to Fidélité, the other company that produced the movie. And also BUF, who did the visual effects, decided to co-produce the movie. So after a few years of waiting, I had the greenlight. Since that moment until now, for four years, I’ve been working almost every day on the movie, and now I’m working on the DVD extras, and I’ve been doing the promotion since last year.

The movie was finished for the first time just before Sundance. The copy that was shown in Cannes last year was a work-in-progress on high-definition, but at the time it was not finished at all.

09202010_EntertheVoid3.jpgA 137-minute cut of the film will be released theatrically here in the States, but there’s a longer version (which I saw at Lincoln Center in August) which clocks in at 160 minutes. What compelled you to also assemble a director’s cut?

Actually, it’s nothing like a director’s cut. There’s one cut that was my original cut — that’s the version that has been released in France and now in Germany, and almost all over Europe. But I signed a contract saying that if the movie went over 2 hours and 20 minutes, I had to deliver a shorter version. So I found a solution that we could pull out a whole 17-minute segment toward the end of the movie, and the movie would still work. I reedited the negative lab rolls in a way that the movie was made up of nine reels, but you could pull out reel number seven, and go directly from reel six to reel eight. Actually, that particular reel doesn’t have anything controversial. It starts just after the abortion scene, and ends when the sister is throwing the ashes in the sink. Mainly what you miss is that whole part of the movie where he [Nathaniel Brown’s Oscar] wakes up at the morgue and thinks he’s alive, but they tell him no, you’re just dreaming.

I reconnect with both versions. The shorter version was just a request from the American distributor. And in England, they’re going to release both. They think it’s maybe going to be more commercial, and also people might enjoy the reduced version and then might want to see the extended version, which is the original version, on VOD or on DVD. Sometimes having two versions makes it even more commercial because people who like it want to see both.

I know in France, they proposed to me, “Why don’t we release the shorter version in France and then put the director’s cut on DVD?” I said no, it’s not the director’s cut. But I want the two versions to come to DVD. And in France, it’s the opposite. On the DVD, we’re going to add the shorter version as a bonus.

Did “Irreversible”‘s controversial reputation, and the fact that “Enter the Void” also features explicit material, make it easier or harder to get the new film made?

The fact is that “Irreversible” was a commercial success. And today, the only reason I could start “Enter the Void” was because of the commercial success of “Irreversible.” I don’t know how this one is going to do in the long term. What people like and some other people don’t like about this one is that it’s more conceptual and more experimental. But I don’t think it’s controversial at all. The controversy that comes from this movie deals mostly with some visual effects or sound effects that put you in an altered state of perception. It’s not so much about the images that are contained, but how they play with your senses.

The best and worst response I got from the movie is that when you come out, you feel stoned. And people who like being stoned enjoy the movie, and people who don’t do drugs or don’t drink alcohol dislike the movie because they feel like someone has been playing with their mind.

09202010_EnterTheVoid5.jpgWere there any particular drugs that influenced the film’s hallucinogenic sequences?

Most movies created with drugs are mostly conceived with cocaine, speed or opiates. Then there are a few movies that have been trying hard to reproduce what an altered state of consciousness under mushrooms is like. But I’d say 99.9% of the movies fail because it’s really hard. Since I’ve been thinking about the project, each time I would see a psychedelic movie, or each time I would smoke or whatever, I would try to think about how it could be done in a better way, and how it could be done in a more accurate way. To transcribe those experiences into a flat screen.

Some people who’ve been doing DMT complained to me that the DMT scenes are getting close [to the actual experience], but at the same time very far, because the actual patterns one sees are more geometrical, and that they move much faster than those in the film. But it’s hard, it’s really hard. I’ve tried my best, but I guess in many ways Kenneth Anger got closer to an LSD experience with “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome” or Jordan Belson with his short films than I got with this one. This one is more of a narrative movie trying to play with the senses.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.