Noé. The Argentinian provocateur is not for the timid. Those who mandate subtly in their art will not admire his work. The scandal surrounding his films’ subject matter seem to get most of the headlines when people talk about Gaspar Noé–but he’s a natural born stylist—endlessly inventive with the camera and influential.  He is a clear auteur, a brand, and I think the collective whole is shaping up nicely–an impressive body of work.

Best film: Irreversible. Tough to stomach if your focus is on the content— but as cinema– this dizzying display of cinematography is just too ambitious and audacious to ignore.

if it is just about the violence and provocation- I’m out– but look at the gorgeous shot here from Irreversible, a reoccurring tracking shot from behind his character

total archiveable films: 3

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films: 0

top 100 films of the decade:  0

most overrated:  Nothing for Noé. Irreversible is at #705 which would be about where I have it. The only other film from him listed by the TSPDT critical consensus is Enter the Void at #1698- a respectful spot for a film as recent as 2009.

most underrated :  None really here either. I owe Love another look- Climax is the only other film of his in the archives after the two mentioned above and it is in a good spot, too.

gem I want to spotlight :  Climax

  • It’s a Noé film in style, subject, and narrative structure. The camera floats around in wonderful long takes like an ethereal being, it’s filled with drugs, sex, and violence and we get a spin at the very end that notes the cause of the disaster that just proceeded it (just like Irreversible famously did)
  • Upside down with the camera in large stretches, overhead too
  • Like Irreversible this is one night and largely seems to take place in real time.
  • A descent in into hell
  • There’s a near graphic match above and below here (or at least a really inspired mise-en-scene pairing) with the fruit in the sangria and the dancers on the dance floor. It’s gorgeous and metaphorical—we’re all in this hell
  • It’s actually pretty rigorously presented—yes we get the closing credits first, and the opening credits come like 1/3 of the way into the movie, but we get the interview section of the actors (with Noe noting his cinematic influences in the frame with Bunuel, Argento Fassbinder and others), then each actor in a social setting, each actor dancing,
  • Intoxicating neons and shadow mix
  • Gorgeous hallway shots in this hell
  • Kinetic
  • It’s middle-finger cinema like Lars or Bunuel or Pasolini (Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom)—but I agree with the Times saying that Noe is a “better technician than a thinker” which I don’t think you could say about the other three- especially Bunuel (you could compare much of the premise here to Exterminating Angel)
  • great shot of dancer seeming to enter a mural on the wall

from Climax – great shot of dancer seeming to enter a mural on the wall

  • Noe is a clear auteur – even if he’s a shock auteur and each film crosses an line (very intentionally) that seem to be for the headlines
  • Paranoia
  • It’s nihilism—maybe even beyond that- Noe likes to watch something beautiful get destroyed


stylistic innovations/traits:

  • Brilliant camera movement- a technical wizard
  • Upside down shots

here from Irreversible

  • Overhead shots

from Climax

  • Neons galore (Argento an influence)

from Enter the Void

  • Tech/club music, violence/drugs, set and shot at night
  • Floating camera from the ceiling, untethered and uninhibited

Floating camera from the ceiling, untethered and uninhibited

  • Long handheld tracking shots behind figures like Van Sant’s Elephant or Bela Tarr – but from a subject matter standpoint his influences are Bunuel, Pasolini- he is always aiming to provoke, but often (and infamously) aims to disgust as well. I think it’s undeniable he’s had an effect on everyone from László Nemes to Inarritu (the shot in Birdman can be explained no other way) to Refn to something like Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night
  • Narrative structure playfulness and manipulation- sets the conclusion of the film first and then shows you how it all went wrong

top 10

  1. Irreversible
  2. Enter the Void
  3. Climax

Long handheld tracking shots behind figures like Van Sant’s Elephant (though Irreversible predates Elephant) or Bela Tarr

By year and grades

2002- Irreversible HR/MS
2009- Enter the Void HR
2018- Climax R


*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives