People don’t seem to want movies about dirty cops anymore. Like musicals and slapstick comedies, they’ve been consigned to memory, for the most part. Whereas, in the 80s, every third movie featured a flinty-eyed psychopath with a badge and a gun; nowadays, the likes of Michael Douglas in Black Rain, or Bruce Willis in just about anything… appear quaint in their refusal to curb their outmoded ways. We laugh now at Mel Gibson’s twitchy ’Nam vet in Lethal Weapon. But time was; he was the epitome of cool. My guilty secret is that I absolutely love dirty cop movies. When Jason Statham wakes up and starts chugging whisky in Blitz, the only thing that would’ve made me happier is if there was a saxophone on the soundtrack.
There’s no truth in non-fiction. The world is not revived by parsing facts. To show the truth of things, I believe, you have to make things new, and strange – in the way of great fiction. Objectivity is not enlightening if you’re looking for truth; neither, oddly, is experience. Just because you’ve been to war, it doesn’t mean you can tell a true war story. As Tim O’Brien wrote in The Things They Carried: “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.” As much as I respect and admire the bravery it took for Tim Hetherington to make Restrepo, I didn’t feel the atoms of war any more keenly after watching it. This is war as we know it, not as it is. For truth, I believe, we need fiction.
Stanley Kubrick once said The Shining was an optimistic story because “anything that says there’s anything after death is ultimately an optimistic story.” Although Gaspar Noe wants you to feel mind-raped by Enter the Void, I’d say his movie has a sentimental heart. For all the sex, and the drug-taking, this story – of a doting soul circling ’round Tokyo – is pretty mushy when you peer through the sleaze. To quote from St Paul, “Where, O death, is your sting?”…once you admit that there’s an afterlife? All the obscenity in the world can’t match the horror of oblivion. So, if you’re thinking you’re too wussy to Enter the Void: rest easy. Your deepest fears aren’t realized here (unless you have a fear of gratuitous nudity).