Holy Motors (2012) Dir: Leos Carax
I’ve babbled on about the rapturous visions of Leos Carax here at length in earlier posts but seeing as the forthcoming Holy Motors is his first full length release since 1999’s Pola X and only his fifth feature in a career stretching back to his 1984 début Boy Meets Girl, I felt that it’s existence is a cause for some celebration.
Why? Well aside from the fact the film has received quite a lot of attention with its ecstatic reception by audiences at the recent 65th Cannes Film Festival and that it also stars Carax regular Denis Lavant, Kylie Minogue, Eva Mendes and French cinema icons Edith Scob and Michel Piccoli as well as a soundtrack that features Shostakovich, Sparks and our very own Neil Hannon it is a film that sounds truly unique, strange and daring in a way that too few films are today. Cinema today cannot sustain itself as an art form alone. Financiers. producers, studios have been there from day one so this has always been the case.
The modern movie going experience, based on pure spectacle and nothing more it seems with 3D and visual effects the sweeteners used to lure audiences into theaters; the reward for leaving the comfort of ones home, abandoning other forms of entertainment and social activity for the promise of a sensational visual experience.
Of course, it could be argued that Carax films and his style are pure cinematic spectacle; overblown, pretentious and empty therefore not entirely dissimilar to a lot of Hollywood mainstream product. His films have been expensive and indulgent also but then the distinction between product and artwork becomes clear. He is an artist with a personality that bleeds through his work and cannot be denied. Quirks, flights of fancy, a sense of the ridiculous, the absurd and the sublime. There is an ache, a powerful energy in his work to express something. What that something is may not be concise or logical but Carax’s films work on an intuitive, emotional level that cannot be analyzed in a rational or intellectual way.
Although, great works of art do cut deeply into our hearts and minds and force us to surrender both. We must surrender. We must argue, shout, laugh, cry, respond. The thrill of great cinema is to provoke us, reawaken our humanity, remind us of the possibilities within ourselves and others.