THE ANXIETIES OF “LET ME IN” AND “ENTER THE VOID”
Two new pieces up here at Filmmaker. In the latest “Into the Splice” from Nicholas Rombes, he goes to a lonely multiplex on a Monday night to see Let Me In, stewing on the way to the theater over the sacrilege of its production:
I went to see Let Me In with low expectations. Like so many, I had seen and been awed by the original Swedish version, Let the Right One In (directed by Tomas Alfredson), whose quiet pacing and lonely stretches of relative silence only made the horror more horrible when it came. An American version, surely, would speed up the pace and overload the naturalistic violence with CGI-generated hyper-energy. On the way to the theater I asked Lisa about this.
“I don’t know,” she said, “give it a chance.”
“But I don’t want to give it a chance. I want to hate it.”
“Then why go?”
“Because I told Scott I was going.”
“Shouldn’t you be open minded?”
That was a real question, if a flip one. More to the point: is it even possible to be open minded, especially when it comes to a remake of a great movie? I got to thinking about the anxiety of influence, not so much the way Harold Bloom meant it (the phrase comes from his 1973 book The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry) as writers struggling against the influence of previous writers, but rather as viewers hindered by our own memories and expectations. In other words, was it even possible for me to give Let Me In a fair shake?
Zachary Wigon, who wrote a dazzling three-parter on Catfish a couple of weeks back, returns with “A Movie is Like a Person” — his riff on Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void and the challenge posed by its filmmaking. An excerpt:
By rigidly structuring rules of what the camera can and cannot do — it can’t really show a memory from any angle other than behind Oscar’s head; when it’s from the point of view of his soul, it’s almost always floating overhead; the camera is not allowed to cut to any kind of reverses, inserts, or coverage of any other sort throughout the entire film — it exposes the laziness of most filmmaking as it constructs a unique style that works as a self-sustaining philosophy of film language. By employing a set of cinematic rules that is almost ascetic, the film indirectly indicts the laziness of the majority of film grammar, which relies on basic presumptions that are employed without being fully interrogated or justified. Enter The Void almost works as much as a work of film criticism as it does as film-making; it seems to be saying that every film must start at zero and justify every decision, every formal choice, with a philosophical rationale. It begs the question — do most filmmakers use traditional film language because it seems appropriate? Or because it’s available, it’s accepted, and they’re not creative enough to do what Noe has done?