Tag Archives: Gaspar Noé


Dario Argento Panico

by Hope Madden

In 2019, documentarian Simone Scafidi turned his attention to Italian horror filmmaker Lucio Fulci for the film Fulci for Fake. It seems only fitting, then, that he shine a spotlight on Italy’s most revered horror maestro – and a bit of an artistic adversary of Fulci’s – Dario Argento.

Panico follows Argento into seclusion in a hotel where he hopes to finish his latest screenplay. From there, Scafidi interviews the director as well as his oldest daughter, Fiore, essentially ruining the whole point of Argento’s stay at the hotel, which makes the setup seem odd from the start.

Argento knows what’s up, though, posing thoughtfully with beautiful architecture and charming Scafidi with the odd reminiscence. These moments pepper a chronological throughline of archival footage and movie segments as well as contemporary interviews with family and other filmmakers.

Few genre fans would argue Argento’s influence or importance in cinema. Gushing tributes from Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn and Gaspar Noé (who cast Argento in the lead for his 2021 drama Vortex) offer delightful glimpses into just what an influence he has been.

Not every opinion is positive – one friend of Argento’s even articulates the plain truth that the maestro’s Nineties output lacked all art.

What Panico lacks are follow-up questions. A number of provocative comments from interviewees seemed like opportunities to hear from Argento on the matter, and yet at no point does Scafidi dig in. This is most confounding during a fairly lengthy interview with Argento’s younger daughter, Asia.

The star of six of her father’s films, beginning with Trauma when she was 16, Asia Argento has been the center of a great deal of speculation and debate concerning her father as a filmmaker and as a parent. And though she spins each unusual parenting or directorial choice as if it’s natural, positive, or wise, most of the time it clearly is not. In fact, an entire (and far more interesting) look at who Dario Argento is and what we should make of his movies could be carved out of just her interview, had Scafidi double checked any of it with her dad.

Nope. Instead, Dario sits across a table from Fiore. She asks him how he managed to be such an amazing dad, always doting on his two daughters. He says that’s just how a person goes about being a father.

I’m not bothered by a superficial doc that just points out why a filmmaker managed to leave such a remarkable legacy in a single genre. But if you’re going to tease us with actual information, choosing not to address any of that information makes for a very frustrating viewing experience.

If You Noé You Know

Lux Æterna

by George Wolf

For anyone who’s still wary of the Gaspar Noé sensory assault in full feature length form, Lux Æterna offers a slight variation.

Oh, he’s still beating us about the face and neck with psychedelic imaging, pulsating rhythms and immersive colors, he’s just keeping it to under an hour this time. And, even bringing along a dare-I-say lighthearted touch to this meta mashup of cinema and witchcraft.

Most everyone here is playing themselves, starting right at the top with Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg talking shop. They swap stories, laugh heartily at their “shit films” and eventually get down to the business of making “God’s Work,” a post-modern tale of witches.

Dalle is directing, Gainsbourg is starring, and once on set, the laughter gives way to a cascade of madness and hysterics, rendered even more disorienting by Noé’s consistent use of split screen formatics. Not only is following both sides often challenging, but anyone sensitive to flashing lights might well be overwhelmed.

The “God’s Work” producer is hatching a plan to get Dalle fired from the project. Gainsbourg is juggling trouble at home and unsolicited pitches from an aspiring director (Karl Glusman from Noé’s Love), while her female co-stars (including Abbey Lee and Clara Deshayes) face a string of indignities.

Noé intersperses it all with clips and quotes from films and filmmakers he admires, and when a lighting miscue becomes a flashpoint for total chaos on the production, Noé’s embrace of the breakdown is clear.

This is where his art thrives, and Lux Æterna finds Noé nearly winking at his own reputation. Longtime aficionados may feel a bit slighted, but any neophytes will get a healthy appetizer to help decide if you’re up for bigger portions.