Hé hé, Burl ici to review a new, and long awaited, picture from the great Léos Carax! I’ve always enjoyed his pictures, right from Boy Meets Girl and through the time I saw Carax himself introduce Les Amants du Pont-Neuf! And what a fine picture that was! Still haven’t seen Pola X though, ha ha!
Well, I just caught up with his new one, Holy Motors! I’ll tell you right off the top, I was simply enchanted! It’s a movie about movies if there ever was one, an encomium and elegy not to cinema itself, but to its mechanical parts: the film camera and projector – the holy motors of the title!
Of course Denis Levant is the star, as he has been of all, or just about all, of Carax’s past works! He’s always been one of the most talented physical performers since Keaton if you ask me, but here he outdoes himself and turns in a performance that really ought to collect quite a few awards at the end of the year, though I’m sure Daniel Day-Lewis or someone like that will take the salmon once again!
What’s the plot, you might wonder? Ha ha, don’t even ask! Do you remember when I said that in The Visitor it seemed anything could happen at any time? Same deal here! Denis Levant plays a number of roles, as he is enacting “appointments” all over Paris which dramatize situations from the fantastical to the cliché to the dramatic but banal! He travels by a limousine driven by none other than Édith Scob from Eyes Without A Face, a film which gets heavily namechecked by more even than Scob’s presence! She’s pretty gorgeous, by the way!
The appointments are frequently bizarre or violent, and a prosthetic penis figures in at least one of them! The penis is oddly shaped, looking something like Lowly Worm from the Richard Scarry books! Ha ha, he’s the worm who wears a bowtie and a Tyrolean hat, but in Holy Motors, the penis is wearing nothing at all! Nothing at all! Nothing at all!
It feels a bit like a dumping ground, and apparently that’s what it is – a bunch of story ideas Carax had amassed over his last dozen years of relative inactivity, all thrown into a stewpot and simmered at low heat! But it’s the tastiest stew to come along in some time! It feels a lot like a David Cronenberg picture at times (he too has just made a picture which takes place largely in a limousine, ha ha!), and the music reminded me at least once of one of those chilly Howard Shore scores from the early 1980s!
The movie can be a bit on the nose at times, as when Levant complains about the dwindling size of cameras, or when Scob dons her mask, and a bit crotchety-old-man in its attempts at humour, as with the url-sporting headstones (Egoyan rather than Cronenberg here!); but these moments are few and their impact minimal!
I always mark it as a great moment in cinema when I walk out of a movie wondering how in hockeysticks it ever got made! Enter the Void was a bit like that, and so were Naked Lunch and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas! There are others too, and I love ‘em! Holy Motors fits into that group like a crouton in a duck, and I’m proud to give it four homemade Spider-Man masks!