I'm Trippin' Out, Maaaaaan Edition
Enter the Void
Never have the words, 'Proceed with Caution,' found a more appropriate occasion than this. Enter the Void takes its viewers on a surreal trip through a blazing neon Tokyo, almost all two and a half hours viewed Point of View style through the eyes of an American Drug Dealer named Oscar (Nathaniel Brown). We follow him through various exploits, all rendered through vivid and intense depictions of how his drug use effects him. In a lot of ways, Enter the Void is lacking: It's script features laughable reaches for philosophical grandeur, and the performers don't really do the wooden dialogue any favors. The true star of the film is Director Gasper Noe, and he puts on a hell of a show. The physical power that his film has over its viewers is mesmerizing, and no filmic depiction of hallucinogens has ever shaken me up even close to this degree. It's an absolute must for all those fascinated by the technical aspects of film, and an absolute must not for the light of heart. Like I said, Proceed with Caution.
One of the finest mainstream releases from (an admittedly really weak) 2011, Limitless tells the story of Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), an aspiring writer who, in the midst of allowing his life to bottom out, is introduced NZT. It's a newly cooked-up drug, and it allows its users access to the entirety of their brian, essentially turning them into geniuses with the simple popping of a pill. This is light, escapist-fantasy fun, so don't go in expecting an Oscar winner, and you'll probably have as big of a blast as I did. Cooper is a surprisingly engaging leading man, and director Neil Burger fills the screen with psychedelic fun, all set to a zippy electro score. Throw in a perfectly gaudy Robert De Niro, and you have one of the purest entertainments of the last calendar year.
From popcorn silliness, to a major effort from a auteur considered in some circles to be the single greatest filmmaker of all time. Swedish All-Time-Great Ingmar Bergman's mind-bending tale follows the trials and tribulations of two women, Elisabeth (Liv Ullmann), an actress who has suddenly lost the ability to speak, and Alma (Bibi Andersson), the nurse assigned to her. The two check into a small, isolated cottage, and begin to wreak havoc on one another's psyche. Bergman's films often indulge in tripped-out imagery, but none that I've seen take it this far, prompting viewers to sift through what's real, and what is imagined. In a lot of ways, Persona could be seen as a spiritual grandmother to Black Swan, but those dueling ballerinas didn't have Bergman pulling the strings, and turning the screws behind camera. A classic by anyone's definition, and one that proves properly mind-altering.
Danny Boyle's movies always seem like they're on drugs, whether it be the jumpy, twitchy terror of 28 Days Later, or the kaleidoscopic journey of Slumdog Millionaire. It makes sense, in that case, that the Brit would have gotten his big break with Trainspotting, wherein a youthful Ewan McGregor and a pair of friends stumble from one drug-fueled misadventure to the next. Boyle's manic, hyper-expressive style is everywhere here, just like it is in all of his movies, coloring every last incident with energy and urgency. A few scenes, wether for reasons of terror or playful whimsy, are etched in my brian forever. Plus, if you haven't already seen this movie, I'm sure that your friends have given you a rough time for it. Trust them, it's good.