Movies: Enter the Void **
Like Lars von Trier (whose 'von' was added by the director for effect), Gaspar Noé is one of those film-makers who likes to bask in the fiery glow of controversy.
In previous films, such as Irreversible, he has knowingly engaged in the kind of shock tactics that were bound to get his work noticed, and like Mr Trier his oeuvre is fought over passionately by both detractors and fans.
Set in Tokyo's garish entertainment district, Enter the Void stars Nathaniel Brown as Oscar, an expatriate American who does not seem to have thrived in his new home.
In the film's almost impenetrably gloomy opening scenes, we see him ingest some class-A drugs before heading to a nightclub where he has agreed to deliver drugs.
It turns out to be a set-up, and after Oscar locks himself in the bathroom and refuses to open the door, a no-nonsense cop decides to bring this brief siege to an end by shooting him.
Oscar dies, folks, but his spirit does not. And for the rest of this sumptuously photographed 135-minute film, his restless spirit hovers over Tokyo wondering what to do next.
We find out that Oscar's little sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta), who was encouraged by her brother to come to Japan, is now working as a pole dancer and is romantically involved with an unsavoury strip club owner.
And as Oscar's spirit searches for a new home, it flashes back to horrifying events that shaped his family's destiny.
All of this blather is apparently based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, that woolly tome beloved of hippies everywhere. And while I would have to admit that Noé's technical mastery in the early parts of the film is impressive, the overarching pretentiousness of this project is more breathtaking than anything achieved on the screen.