by Gaspar Noé
We then see that the reason the two men are after someone called the tapeworm is because two imposing guys take Marcus and Pierre on a tour of a street filled with prostitutes. They find a hermaphrodite called Guillermo who, at knife point, tells them she saw a guy called the Tapeworm do 'it'. We learn what 'it' is when we go back a few minutes more and see a woman being wheeled into an ambulance. Marcus loses it because the woman is his wife, Alex (Monica Bellucci, whose beauty is almost implausible, to the point that she looks like a special effect); they tell him that she was raped and is now in a coma. Then the two imposing guys find him and say they found a purse near the scene of the crime with Guillermo's ID in it. Then we see Alex get attacked in a tunnel just trying to cross the street. Some guy sees that Guillermo is not strictly a woman and flips out and grabs Alex instead and rapes her at knife point and then beats her nearly to death. We see all of this in one nine minute tracking shot. I don't often look away from movie screens, but I did and I'm not in the least ashamed to admit it. We then see her leaving a party because Marcus's behavior embarrasses her. Then we see Marcus, Pierre and Alex on the subway headed for the party. Then we see Marcus and Alex relaxing at home. Then we see Alex by herself in a park where children play. Then the words "Time Ruins Everything" display after an obnoxious strobe light takes over the screen. This happens because we saw a 2001: A Space Odyssey poster on Alex's wall and because apparently Gaspar Noé thinks he's Stanley Kubrick. He's not...at best he's Jeunet by way of some reverse-Kenneth Anger, with a 99th of the creativity and none of his love for people.
That is the whole film and the moral is simple: see that every little action we perform has major consequences, or maybe everything's random. Noé also seems to say that something nice in the morning will suck at night. I think that that's kinda childish, but then, maybe he just means to say that all good things have to end. But really my question is what moral could possibly be worth nine fucking minutes of watching a woman get raped at knife-point? None, that's what. I don't give a good goddamn if you've discovered the meaning of life, I'll pass if it means watching a woman get raped in real time. I know it's a film, I know it's not real, and I also know that this happens every day but that doesn't mean I want to see that or any approximation of it on screen because though I do come to arthouse cinema (especially a film like this which screams "Look how fucking meaningful I am!", which is pretty bold considering the notion that rape really sucks has been in films since 1929 when Alfred Hitchcock made Blackmail! about precisely that, which is why this movie makes me extra furious. This film is shot entirely from the pornographic male gaze and yet thinks it's message can weather its misogyny; to contrast one vision of a naked heroine with another as high and low points of existence isn't what I'd call progressive, even if it makes artistic sense. Just what did Noé think he was accomplishing?) expecting to be taught a lesson in humanity or at the very least filmmaking, I do not think that just because you can does not mean you should. And I don't think that his using the sexual habits of gay men as a point of vulgarity quite in this way is really acceptable either. It gets treated with the same, if not more, otherness and contempt than the rape and homosexuals are treated like deviants. And maybe Noé is just commenting on how we perceive sexuality. If so, maybe he should given some indication he doesn't identify with is presentation of homosexuals because I have no reason not to think he believes everything he put on the screen.
Trouble Every Day
by Claire Denis
Across town Coré is at it again; Léo, after discovering a house full of sawdust, a missing car and a missing wife, goes looking for her in the usual spot and has to bury another guy. Meanwhile Shane goes looking for Léo in his old place of work but is met with a bunch of vague bullshit from his old colleagues who seem to know that the American can only be up to no good. He gets an address from a lab tech who meets him in private and heads for Léo's house. We're told in flashback that he and Coré once had an affair while Léo was conducting some research involving plants and people. That's where they met and while it seems reasonable that Shane just wants to see Coré again, I sense something more sinister is afoot. I should also mention that Shane isn't the only one interested in getting into Léo's house. Two kids have been casing the place, convinced that all the chemistry in the basement is about making meth, not a cure for his wife's insanity. One of them finds Coré and tears off the boards her husband nailed up to keep her indoors and the two begin making love, at which point everything becomes clear. Coré can't just have sex with someone, you see. Somethings gone wrong in her head and now she cannot be satisfied unless she eats some of her bedmate. What do you think the odds are that Shane may be also have this same malady and that in order to make love to his wife, he has to cure it? What do you think's going to happen when the former lovers reunite?
Other than getting by mostly on implication, the film suffers from unattractive cinematography and a plot a little more conventional than it seems at first. Denis plays a game of reveals, seeing how little she can give away while the imagery becomes more immediate and violent. The film is not (with the exception of that music) self-important or laden with messages, it simply asks how far some of us will go to feel pleasure. It's not love, as the silly slogan implies, it's just about pleasure. Shane and his wife could and have theoretically gotten on fine without sex (in fact, that begs the question: had they had sex at all before getting married?) but Shane is after flesh, in both senses of the word. In fact that he knowingly married someone he liked makes him a pretty big asshole because he knows he has a tremendous mental issue to work out and she's going to necessarily get caught in the middle of it. In that regard, the disease can be likened to AIDS or any other degenerative STD, in that to sleep with the carrier means death. Of course, that sort of both oversimplifies and gives more credit to a cannibal film than perhaps it deserves. It's a strange film and it's combination of hazy detachment from the story and very uncomfortable, violent sexuality makes for an unconventional take on age-old subject matter. Not the best thing I've ever seen, but it's interest to me as a film goes a long way toward making up for its more repulsive scenes.