Film Buffs will Trip on “Enter the Void”

Film buffs with hard stomachs may find Gaspar Noe’s work hard to swallow. Noe is famous for his unfiltered appreciation of taboo concepts such as on-screen drug use, gratuitous sex, and extreme violence. The best example I can offer is in an earlier film of his called “Irreversible,” wherein a man is bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher, and a woman is raped for ten minutes in a dirty alleyway. Granted, the victim was Monica Bellucci, it still doesn’t sit well with most viewers.

Gaspar Noe brings another offering to the counter-culture film community with “Enter the Void.” Set in the seedy red light district of Tokyo, Japan, a teenage drug dealer (Oscar) experiences the ultimate trip. Without spoiling the obvious plot turns, the film takes a unique stand on the concepts of life and death. It’s a disorienting invitation to an underworld most of us are better off not knowing about.

Oscar is violently removed from physical reality and forced to live on in a “metaphysical void.” He pulls us along, whether we like it or not, in a way that numbs and arrests the viewer. We are forced to feel his natural and synthetic highs that distort perception. Like a ghost, we watch the world react without having an influence. There are strong sexual undertones that hint to an oedipal complex, but again, Gaspar Noe is known for pushing those buttons.

What makes this film so profound to me is the point-of-view camerawork. You see through the eyes of the main character, Oscar, as he takes drugs and goes on elaborate hallucinations. He later looks at himself in the mirror and you see his hands move as if they were your own. This alone is an accomplishment in modern cinema. The camera eventually acts like a transient specter, flowing through and around the world Oscar knows, giving us a harsh look at his life (and death). Sometimes, I didn’t want to see, and other times, despite my better judgment, I couldn’t look away.

Prepare yourself for graphic, intense, and realistic experiences that will take a while to fade out of memory.

a second glance at ATLAS SOUND

ATLAS SOUND – BEDROOM DATABANK: VOLUME TWO

I’m listening to Atlas Sound’s album “Bedroom Databank: Volume 2” and leaning recumbent in an office chair. My head falls back as acoustic sounds progress,  (opportunistically) like a snow flurry (on a day filled with love) turning into a beautiful blizzard for hours and hours. It turns electronic.

The energy keeps me happy, seeing stars and moonshine, feeling warm, under a jacket and earmuffs, gloves, hat and scarf. I dust my mind and recognize the blatant indie-rock “-ness” of my situation, and begin to focus like a good Grizzly Bear song on the meaning of it all.

Being inebriated (and alone) is an unusually Zen experience while listening to some of this music; I think freely and do what I want.

On beaches at night, the plaid-wearing hipsters could lay around bonfires enjoying a good conversation, and/or resting before sleep, looking up at the stars, wondering how this music’s still on with only one man  (Bradford Cox) playing all the instruments. I often thought of MGMT, Washed Out, and Panda Bear.

The vocals stood out among all of his instruments, along with the bass guitar; I really liked the sound and style of both. I also really liked “Here Come the Trains” at the end, a great example of what his project is all about. It’s enough to get me looking into his other work. Overall I enjoyed the album very much, and await another production.

I found this song shortly after discovering Atlas Sound, and thought you’d like it. Enjoy!

AHMAD JAMAL @ Regattabar

Ahmad Jamal @ Regattabar
Cambridge, MA
11/20/2010
Sam Adams Lager

His entrance was noble; the last one to show up, sitting down while everyone was clapping, and jumping right into something groovy. The band was on queue and picked up right when he did. The tempo was fast at times, and made me think of the fast city streets.

There were moments of release that charged the audience and got us moving in our seats. At other times, things were slower, orchestrated to perfection. There were great solos from all the players, full of improvisation and personality. Manolo Badrena was a creative delight on the percussions. Idris Muhammad was sharp and strong on drums, and James Cammack kept the rhythm and foundation on standing bass.

Ahmad Jamal took the melody and harmony to incredible levels. It was my first impression of him as a musician, and I had no idea he was a major influence on jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. Elements of swing swept the beat from song to song, not wasting a second too long for applause and cheer. My leg kept tapping to the beat underneath the cocktail table, almost spilling my Sam Adams Lager.

I bought his most recent album after the show, and I noticed he was signing autographs after the show. I was the last in line to see him. I told him it was the first time I ever heard his music, and this show made me a fan. He was pleased to hear it, signed the album cover I handed to him, and wished me well as I left. I left him there, knowing he would sit there silently before returning to the stage for a second show. He’s still got it.

Calvino’s “Cosmicomics” and all things Imagined

I like to imagine the world and the universe once acted like the story in Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics” entitled “The Distance of the Moon.” In my imagination, the moon was not the first to grow apart from the Earth. The whole cosmos once lived as neighbors around our world, within earshot and eye, at distances where we could see galaxies swirl with one another, and recreate themselves in endless chemical attraction.

At night, I would sit out on my rooftop and smell the solar vapors of Alpha Centauri. I wouldn’t be trying to take Ferris wheel rides on the moon. Instead, I would shed a solitary tear, for the moon, for the stars, for the worlds beyond ours. We don’t mean to push you away, but it’s our nature to grow and change. You might as well leave right now, I’d say, and still, everything took their time. Now, several tens of hundreds of thousands of years later, the memory of a time long past is but an ever-distant photograph.

The closer we get to seeing it all, the closer we get to capturing but a moment’s feeling of that relationship we once had with all things.

— And for your entertainment, here’s a short film I found that tells the story of “The Distance of the Moon.” Enjoy :-)