Enter The Void
by Gaspar Noé
The last segment of the movie which I've taken to calling the Love Hotel segment is what takes subtlety and shoots it a hundred times in the head. We spin through the walls of a hotel watching people have sex while rays of what I hope isn't scent flows out of everyone's genitals. Among the faceless young naked we see all the major characters engaging in coitus that's supposed to hint at their fate. Among the many bodies we see Alex and Linda together finally having ordinary heterosexual sex which is supposed to be so beautiful that Noé felt he could end the movie with it. But before that we see Victor giving a Japanese businessman a blowjob as punishment for his treachery. Even at 4 in the morning, even on codeine and hydrocodone, even trying to give this baggy mess the benefit of the doubt, I couldn't abide by Noé's fratboy homophobia (with just a dash of racism thrown in for good measure). After putting up with two hours of needless stripping, sex, authorial masturbation and more nude Paz De La Huerta than I'd ever wanted to see, that was the final straw. But of course there was still one last prank up Noé's sleeve. Once we see Alex and Linda having sex the camera goes through her navel and into her vagina where we get a front row seat to Alex ejaculating. I don't know if I'd call that particularly artistic but I guess I can honestly say I'd never seen that before. Did I need to? No. Did it add anything other than cementing the notion that our director was kinda just out to do whatever thing seemed the most extreme? No. And the final creepy revelation that waits before the end credits just takes everything one step further than I cared to go with it.
by Harmony Korine
Trash Humpers and Enter The Void make for an excellent double feature because of their commitment to their aesthetic. Just as Enter The Void is loaded with colourful genitalia and acid fantasies galore, Trash Humpers is a laundry list of grimy suburban nightmares; a painstaking recreation of horrifying home videos from the 90s. Shot on bad, warped VHS with those great in-camera titles, Korine makes his film feel like the kind of thing you'd find at a garage sale after the creepy guy who lived down the block died of an overdose. It's like the 90s-equivalent of a stag-reel and that's a pretty impressive feat. The performances, down to the awkward posture and repeated phrases and songs, the warped post-production and the depressing real-life locations are all gross and real enough that they blend into my (and I suspect many of my generation and just above it - anyone who was caught on the first generation of cassette-based home video recording, I suspect those folks who did the filming will find this less endearing) unconscious recollection of time passing and the inescapable feeling of wasting your life. I for one found myself remembering the time I was forced to watch home video footage of my first girlfriend in her basement. She, her mother and her younger brother seemed fascinated by their exhaustingly boring former selves; I couldn't wait to go home and fantasize about the other girl I had a crush on, wondering why I couldn't have charmed someone who would never make me watch evidence that time was passing and death was approaching like a trash truck at the end of the street. There is something inherently depressing about home movies and amateur filmmaking; more people shoot the things than get around to watching them (it helps that tape formats changed every other year and you'd be hard pressed to find a way to play your old footage today) and the idea of sitting around and watching the people you used to be is really a recipe for disaster. Korine definitely understands this and so makes sure to overload the film with the kind of embarrassing-to-eldritch personalities you'd find hosting neighborhood barbecues or birthday parties, only taken to their logical extreme. For this reason I was definitely on the lookout for the kind of last-ditch redemption set-piece he hints at with the ending. After all, there's nothing we want more than reminders that the people we once were (hair, fashion, mannerisms, murders) might break out of the lives they were trapped in yesterday, whether they planned it that way or not. Korine doesn't go so far as to suggest that these creeps are going to change, but maybe within their addled brains they have the capacity to recognize that what they're doing is wrong. Somewhere, once, they had families too and even if they grow up to stalk Haddonfield, Illinois there's the faintest possibility that they'll look in a mirror and remember they were once just as scared.