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Enter The Void

A podcast about films that are just completely bonkers.
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Enter The Void
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Jun 12, 2019

Our pick for this episode is not your usual, bog standard time travel psychological horror... but then again, maybe it is? Today we are doing GROUNDHOG DAY, the 1993 romantic comedy directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. A sleeper of a mindfuck, Groundhog Day warmed hearts and tickled funny bones when it debuted early in the Clinton era, but by the 21st century it had come to be recognized for its theological significance—and then YouTube got hold of it, and the rest is history. Today, we discuss: whether it's a proper mindfuck; how long Phil actually spends in the time loop; connections to Buddhism, Catholicism and Judaism; its relationship to Camus, Sisyphus and existentialism; its place in the comedy pantheon; plus: is Ned Ryerson actually the devil?

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May 29, 2019

So this episode was supposed to be just about PERFECT BLUE, Satoshi Kon's 1997 animated psychological thriller. But we couldn't stop at just one! So Renan and Bill went ahead and watched PAPRIKA, his 2006 science-fiction opus too, which also sadly would be his last feature film. Today, your hosts talk about the life and career of Satoshi Kon, his incredible imagination and mastery of technique, and how both films examine themes of dual identities. Also discussed: Perfect Blue on the internet and celebrity culture; Paprika on dreams and filmmaking; how Darren Aronofsky borrowed well and Christopher Nolan borrowed poorly—and borrow they did; plus, are these films definitely anime?

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May 15, 2019

How have we got this far without discussing anything by the original film surrealist, Luis Buñuel? Well, today we rectify the situation and discuss not one but four films from the Spanish exile / expatriate moviemaking legend. In this episode, your hosts examine the previously promised UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1929), THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (1962), and THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972), plus one of his more accessible films, BELLE DE JOUR (1967) with Catherine Deneuve. Among the topics for discussion: Buñuel's peripatetic life and unpopular politics, his roles in both the Surrealist and French New Wave movements, his use of dreams and the subconscious, the targets of his satire, and connections to the works of David Lynch and Last Year at Marienbad.

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May 1, 2019

At long last we get around to a movie that was on our mind when we started this podcast: FIGHT CLUB, the 1999 David Fincher film  starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter, based on the 1996 Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name. If you don't like politics with your movies, then today's show isn't for you, because Fight Club was born in controversy, released to Boomer acrimony, and then, once it attained cult status, attracted the unwanted—but not altogether surprising—approval of some of the most loathsome ideologues of the 21st century. Today, Bill and Renan take on their most problematic fave, discussing themes of consumerism, capitalism, fascism, toxic masculinity, intergenerational animosity, violence in the media, the culture wars, the WTO, Columbine, Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos' mistress, the death of satire, and much more.

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Apr 17, 2019

This episode is a little different: rather than taking on a single film or even the work of one director, the scope in this extra-long bonus episode is the greatest mindfucks across more than 50 years of TV history. In three separate segments, Bill and Renan each make their "Mount Rushmore" picks for the greatest television series, single episodes and standout moments in mindfuck TV. Shows discussed in this episode include: Twin Peaks, Black Mirror, LOST, The Leftovers, The X-Files, The Prisoner, The Good Place, Wild Palms, Russian Doll, DarkThe Sopranos, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Tales from The Darkside, Friday the 13th: The Series, St. Elsewhere, Newhart, Mr. Robot, and Get a Life.

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Apr 3, 2019

In today's episode, Bill and Renan return to the work of David Cronenberg—a director twice before discussed on this podcast—to consider the 1986 film many believe to be his masterpiece: THE FLY, starring Jeff Goldblum as a scientist who accidentally fuses his genes with a common housefly, and Geena Davis as the woman who loves him. So: is it actually Cronenberg's best film? Is this movie about aging, disease, and AIDS specifically? Or is it a cautionary tale about science and the nuclear age? What does this movie want us to make of Stathis Borans? Do we think The Fly got Jeff Goldblum his famous role in Jurassic Park? All these questions will be answered, plus an incomplete discussion of Cronenberg's filmography, and whether it's already complete.

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Mar 20, 2019

In the waning months of the 20th century, a remarkable little film from a pair of unknown filmmakers arrived in US cinemas, and it became a bona fide sensation. That was BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999), written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze, starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and of course, John Malkovich. It was a formative film experience for your hosts, and twenty years later Bill and Renan revisit it for you today. Among the topics discussed: the film's reception at the time and how it looks now that the novelty has worn off; was 1999 the greatest year in cinema history, and what happened to indie films after?; how great art becomes problematic faves; what comes after after postmodern irony?; how it compares to Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine, and other Kaufman-Jonze work; plus, Bill's very much not good Orson Bean story and the BJM / Get Out fan theory that might yet prove to be true.

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Mar 6, 2019

How has this show never done a Christopher Nolan film before? Today your hosts rectify that and discuss his 2010 film INCEPTION, a $800 million-grossing summer blockbuster with no pre-established IP, unless being the next film by the guy who made The Dark Knight somehow counts. In this episode, Renan and Bill discuss: whether this and other Nolan features are truly mindfucks or mere puzzle films; whether they work on a second time viewing; how Nolan uses time, editing, and music to achieve his ends; defending Nolan from the haters on film Twitter; whether it's OK for the dialogue to be pretty much all exposition; whether Mal is actually a villain and if Dom should be considered one—in fact, isn't Dom a little bit like Red Dead's Dutch van der Linde?

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Feb 20, 2019

Today Renan and Bill lose their neorealist chains and grapple with the 1963 Federico Fellini film , hailed by armchair film scholars as one of the greatest films of all time. More than 50 years on, how does it hold up? Undoubtedly and deservedly a classic,  today looks different than it did in the 1960s, or even the 1990s. In this episode: 's attitudes toward women; Pauline Kael's critical review; Guido's heirs including Don Draper; Fellini's virtuosic filmmaking; whither the imperial film director; and other films about filmmaking. Also, Bill offers some hot Sundance tips, and we highlight a listener's electronic music project providing an alternate score to Eraserhead.

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Feb 6, 2019

We're back with the first of our last run of episodes, and today's episode is a two-for-one deal: we mostly discuss Terry Gilliam's 1996* time travel thriller 12 MONKEYS, with Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt, and weave throughout discussion of the 1962 French featurette that inspired it, LA JETÉE. Discussed in this episode: how does time travel work (or not) in these movies? What do we think happens after the events of 12 Monkeys? Is there anything La Jetée does better? What lessons do these movies have for modern audiences? Did you find all the character actors from The Wire in 12 Monkeys? How about the Nas Illmatic posters? And, what are we to make of Terry Gilliam's career overall?

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Jan 23, 2019

Well, what have we here—it's the tenth season of ENTER THE VOID! Your patience has been rewarded: Bill and Renan are back for what we are gratuitously terming "Season X". (Multiple pronunciations accepted.) This time, we're doing things a little bit differently. The good news: we'll be doing 10 films instead of 8; we're going bimonthly, which may be bad if you need your fix, or good if you already have a lot of podcast obligations (we know the feeling); and we're doing a couple of bonus episodes, including a long-overdue discussion of mindfuck television, plus a finale / retrospective / wrap-up. And here's the bad: yep, about that finale—this will be the last season of ETV, at least for awhile, as Bill and Renan turn their attentions to new projects after this. We're not saying goodbye, we're saying "indefinite hiatus". But we're excited to go out with a bang, hit 100 total episodes, and we hope you'll come along for the ride. Here are the films we've got in store for you this season:

  1. 12 Monkeys (Gilliam) / La Jetée (Marker)
  2.  (Fellini)
  3. Inception (Nolan)
  4. Being John Malkovich (Jonze)
  5. The Fly (Cronenberg)
  6. Fight Club (Fincher)
  7. Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie / Un Chien Andalou (Buñuel)
  8. Perfect Blue (Kon)
  9. Groundhog Day (Ramis)
  10. Blue Velvet (Lynch)

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Oct 31, 2018

At last, it's the season 9 finale, and we go out with a bang: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER by writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou is one of the most searing film experiences of the last few years. Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Barry Keoghan star in this family drama / suspense thriller / haunted house / horror film, which despite being a tough hang that no one's really sure what it's about, was also widely praised upon release in 2017. In this episode, your hosts discuss their experiences watching it a second time, the story's roots in Greek mythology, Lanthimos' cold but invigorating style, and appraise the slippery career of one Mr. Farrell. Also: RIP FilmStruck, the streaming service that was too good to live.

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Oct 24, 2018
For the penultimate episode of season 9, your hosts alter their consciousness and explore ALTERED STATES, a 1980 sci-fi horror film written by Paddy Chayefsky, directed by Ken Russell, and today known as much for its far-out story as for its creators' infamous feud. William Hurt stars as Eddie Jessup, an academic whose experiments with sensory deprivation and hallucinogenic drugs lead him to "regress" to an earlier evolutionary state. (Literally!) Fully committed and totally bonkers, Altered States is something you have to experience for yourself, especially the wild, sexually charged religious visions; the preposterously verbose dialogue; not to mention that whole thing with the acrobatic caveman. Plus: did this movie make anyone else think of Ghostbusters?
 
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Oct 17, 2018

In today's episode, your hosts grapple with the Danny Boyle-directed, Alex Garland-written 2007 science-fiction horror-thriller SUNSHINE. A commercial failure at the time, with a mixed reception among critics, the film has over the past decade gained an appreciable cult following. But what do your hosts think? Is it a spooky, contemplative outer space film with some third act troubles? Is it a stylish but conceptually thin entertainment that needed a major rethink? Maybe both! You'll just have to listen and find out. Also discussed: which story elements worked and which ones didn't; how much we should care about scientific accuracy, the career arcs of Boyle and Garland; and whether it's ever a good idea for smart characters to do dumb things.

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Oct 10, 2018

Once nearly impossible to find and now... still pretty tough to obtain via legitimate means, Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN—the 1971 film he wrote and directed based on his own 1939 novel—is both legendary and forgotten at the same time. It tells the disturbing tale of a young soldier who loses his limbs and nearly all of his senses, but whose mind remains intact as he's trapped inside his own body in a military hospital. Adapted into Metallica's music video "One" and rubbing shoulders with the great anti-war and surrealist films, Johnny Got His Gun is not easy to watch. Also discussed: the film's most effective techniques; Trumbo's career and politics; other adaptations on stage and film; and its maybe-possible influence on Better Call Saul. Plus: does Metallica really own the film outright?

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Oct 3, 2018

Alan Parker's 1987 ANGEL HEART contains explicit sex, voodoo rituals, amnesia, chickens, and a few shocking twists that your hosts figured out at different points. In today's episode, they reveal when they knew what and compare their impressions of this not-quite-successful but still semi-legendary Hollywood thriller, now more than thirty years old. Combining elements of gothic horror and film noir, featuring performances from early period Mickey Rourke, mid-period Robert DeNiro, and only-period Lisa Bonet, Angel Heart is worth considering for its religious motifs, keen historical detail, uncomfortable datedness, sometimes horrifying imagery, sometimes goofy dialogue, and its relationship to films like Devil's AdvocateJacob's Ladder (which we covered in season 3) plus Sixth Sense and even Big Lebowski.

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Sep 26, 2018

Our third episode this season is about the semi-obscure but recently-Criterioned 1973 French animated film FANTASTIC PLANET, or La Planète Sauvage (literally, "wild planet"), from the minds of René Laloux and Roland Topor, with music by Alain Goraguer, based on a novel by Stefan Wul. It's a psychedelic audiovisual trip, and tells the story of an advanced alien society of blue people who like to meditate almost as much as they like to toy with the fates of the comparatively-tiny humanoids who roam their planet. It's a film about interplanetary race relations, or maybe it's unfamiliar environmentalism, or telling the difference between pest control and genocide. Also discussed in this episode: what other animated works would you like to see get a Criterion release? 

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Sep 19, 2018

Is Julia Ducornau's 2016 film RAW (French: Grave) a coming of age film about cannibalism? A body horror film about family relationships? A tale of sexual discovery and veterinary practices? Yes, no, and maybe—but not necessarily in that order! In this episode, Bill and Renan consider a film they might not otherwise have been drawn to... with sexy results! Discussed: what the film has to say about cannibalism and teenage sexuality, not to mention college hazing rituals; whether Raw is a true horror movie or something else; references to Kubrick, PTA, and Cronenberg; other films about bloodthirsty teenage girls (and veterinarians); what would people say about Raw if a man directed it; and, Bill's own recent up-close experience with wild horses.

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Sep 12, 2018

It's not too often that we examine a major Hollywood blockbuster on this show, but it's not too often that the studios release something as baffling as TOTAL RECALL, and by that we mean the original 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger–Paul Verhoeven sci-fi schlockfest. Is it all a dream? Did he read Word Up! magazine? Did Quaid ever get his ass to Mars, or is he lobotomized in the chair at Rekall? We may never know for sure, but in this first episode of our ninth season, your hosts Renan and Bill go long to discuss the film's vision of the future, its context in our recent past, Ahnold vs. The Rock, Philip K. Dick's posthumous Hollywood takeover, the long adaptation process and many almost-was versions, and other big-budget mind-benders. Also: prefacing our discussion of the film, a conversation about how the films we watch for this show might reflect on the mind-bending real world we live in.

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Sep 5, 2018

Get excited... the ninth season of ENTER THE VOID begins next week, and today we present our patented "episode zero" with a short preview of the eight films we'll be covering in the weeks ahead. Once again, major thanks to the ETV Podcast Club for helping pick the films for discussion. Here's what's we've got for you:

  1. Total Recall (Verhoeven, 1990)
  2. Raw (Ducournau, 2016)
  3. Fantastic Planet (Laloux, 1973)
  4. Angel Heart (Parker, 1987)
  5. Johnny Got His Gun (Trumbo, 1971)
  6. Sunshine (Boyle, 2007)
  7. Altered States (Russell, 1980)
  8. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos, 2017)

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May 30, 2018

For the final episode of our eighth season, your co-hosts revisit a dorm room film classic, the 2000 action-adventure-thriller-satire BATTLE ROYALE, about a Japanese classroom forced to fight to the death on an abandoned island. Upon release in Japan, it was both hugely controversial and hugely profitable. But in most of the Western world, it didn't receive a proper release for another dozen years. In between, it both attained an exalted cult status and maybe (or maybe not?) inspired one of the biggest Hollywood franchises of the current decade. Discussed in the season finale: the generation gap in Japan and abroad, Tarantino's inspiration, our favorite scenes, some lingering questions, multiple versions, the lamentable sequel, comparisons to other novels and films, violence in the media, and yes of course The Hunger Games. 

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May 23, 2018

For the penultimate episode of our eighth season, we consider MOON, Duncan Jones' 2009 debut science fiction picture, starring Sam Rockwell, Sam Rockwell, and the disembodied voice of someone you probably now wish wasn't involved in this picture. Discussed in today's show: how the film deploys its twists; what it has to say about cloning and artificial intelligence; references to 2001: A Space Odyssey and other films; and, what has Jones been up to since?

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May 16, 2018

What did you think of Jonathan Glazer's 2013 minimalist sci-fi UNDER THE SKIN, starring Scarlett Johansson? Did it all make sense when you watched it the first time? Or did it only reveal it to yourself after another viewing? Today your hosts, Bill and Renan, come at it from different perspectives and have, well, different perspectives on it. Topics discussed include how the film was made and what it means, how it differs from the book and early scripts, and how it relates to ScarJo's stardom. Plus: other films that double as commentary on their actors, big stars in weird movies, and possible foreshadowing in Glazer's music video career. 

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May 9, 2018

Wow, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN sure is something! Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1973 follow-up to El Topo is a wild psychedelic trip, a critique of the militarization of 20th century life, and even a satire of the counterculture that spawned it. At least, we think. Today, Bill and Renan try to explain to each other what they think happened in the movie, what it's supposed to be about, recount how the film was made, how it disappeared from public view, how it's influenced other artists in the years since—and discuss the perfectly understandable reason why George Harrison turned down the lead role.

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May 2, 2018

REPO MAN (1984) is a bit of a departure from our usual kind of film, and boy is it worth it: written and directed by Alex Cox and starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton, Repo Man is a gritty, funny, occasionally baffling ride through 1980s LA, through a wasteland of generic brands, smarmy televangelists, flying cars stuffed with aliens, and fears of nuclear annihilation. Your hosts explore these themes, plus: how the film was saved by punk and yet challenges the idea, what kind of kooky things Alex Cox has been up to lately, and offer a remembrance of the late, great Art Bell.

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