ENTER THE VOID ★★★ 1/2 out of four stars
Unrated but includes every kind of objectionable content you can imagine. In English and Japanese, subtitled.
Where: St. Anthony Main.
One-hundred-proof unfiltered weirdness. French provocateur Gaspar Noé's movies are as visceral as a kick in the gut; this psychedelic film noir wallops your head pretty good, too.
Taking inspiration from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the trippy Stargate sequence in "2001," the film charts a dead pusher's journey beyond the infinite. When a drug deal at the Tokyo nightclub The Void goes sour, mortally wounded Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) achieves cosmic consciousness. His spirit soars over the cityscape; Noé's camera, shooting from Oscar's point of view, captures that neon hell in all its sordid beauty. Riffing through Oscar's life, we see moments of terror, awe and love. Paz de la Huerta plays his sister, an exotic dancer, whom he vowed to protect forever. I've never ridden a breakneck roller coaster while tripping, but I imagine this is what it's like. This a film you'll remember for a lifetime if it doesn't send you screaming out of the theater.
LAST TRAIN HOME
★★★ out of four stars
Unrated; mature themes. In Mandarin, subtitled.
A fine documentary about the largest pilgrimage in human history, the annual journey by urban Chinese industrial workers to their rural homes for the traditional New Year celebration. Guangzhou garment factory workers Changhua Zhang and Suqin Chen travel by train to Sichuan, a journey of more than 1,000 miles, to see their teenage son and daughter.
Once there they encounter a family that has been falling apart. Their reunion with their older children reveals family frictions. The couple's teen daughter Qin resents their lectures about completing her education. Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan presents the human cost of China's economic rise in terms any parent or child can understand.
THE ROBBER ★★★ 1/2 out of four stars
Unrated; nudity, violence, sexual situations. In German, subtitled.
When/where: 7:30 p.m. Wed., Walker Art Center, with an introduction by the director.
A spare, tough-as-nails crime melodrama. At the center of virtually every frame is stoic Rettenberger (Johannes Lust), a Viennese convict who uses his parole to indulge in his only interests, competitive running and robbing banks at gunpoint. He is extremely accomplished at both.
Director Benjamin Heisenberg refuses to explain his antihero's motivation. Rettenberger doesn't spend his loot, and never brags about his athletic prowess. He simply pushes himself to run more punishing races and to pull more daring heists. These assume the stature of existential gestures, pure expressions of free will. He's Nietzsche's übermensch with a pump gun.
The film boasts several turbocharged chase-and-escape sequences, alongside understated character analysis. Rettenberger isn't the type to take revenge on someone lashing out in self-defense, or to harm innocent hostages, but if you prattle on about rehabilitation and keeping out of trouble he might cave your skull in. Based, amazingly enough, on a true story.