Holy Motors - Q&A with Director Leos Carax

Yesterday FilmFAC attended the opening night of "Holy Motors" at the Film Society in Lincoln Center. Let me start by saying that you will not understand this movie. I'm just putting it out there: this is just that kind of film, a nightmarish masterpiece that reminds me of David Lynch's "Mullholand Drive." And you're not meant to understand it. Demented French director Leos Carax brings us a supernatural, confusing, and gratifying vision of life with his first film in over a decade, a collection of episodes that don't necessarily tie in together.

He warns the audience about the non-linear nature of his film by starting it with the experimental Muybridge footage of the 19th century: a naked man doing exercises in early attempts at making motion pictures before they were used to tell stories. And that's what this is: a grand experiment in what film is supposed to say, a step back from the traditional narrative that audiences have been trained to expect over the past hundred years.

There is some semblance to a story.
The actor rides through Paris for a day in a white limousine, changing makeup for 'appointments' embodying all of the main characters; different avatars that resemble a few recognizable and some more unusual archetypes. A banker transforms into an old lady begging on the streets of Paris. There is the reprisal of the hilarious impish devil 'Merde' from Carax's segment in the collaborative film "Tokyo!" kidnapping Eva Mendez. You see the actor in a green room performing sex acts for a motion capture system. Another segment is a conversation of a man in his deathbed (taken from 'The Portrait of a Lady' by Henry James) in the Hotel Raphael (the same hotel in the short film 'Hotel Chevalier,' the prologue to "The Darjeeling Limited"). There is a musical segment with Kylie Minogue. There is another where the actor kills a similar version of himself. And all the time it forces you to escape from the confines of everything you have learned in film semiotics, to abandon our basic human need to give meaning to everything, while in the process we end up enjoying a new version of the first forms of cinema, what audiences in the 1870's discovered as the awe-inspiring experience of the moving picture. Critics have almost unanimously praised it for its refreshing outlook and its original script as one of the best movies of the year. Carax had to shoot digitally for the first time (on the Red EPIC) because his former cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier passed away in 2003.

Taciturn director Leos Carax is notoriously allergic to interviews, but he stuck around to answer some questions. As you will barely hear, the director doesn't understand the film himself. "I feel very alive when I make a film and I feel dead when I talk about films." Take a look at this mysterious Q&A session below:


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