For some reason, when the stuff with the cameras was brought up, I imagined that episode of South Park with the aliens watching the TV show Earth.
For some reason, when the stuff with the cameras was brought up, I imagined that episode of South Park with the aliens watching the TV show Earth.
I'm with CocoActual Items
In the Year 2000
As more and more people start having sex with robots, it will become increasingly embarrassing to buy a can of WD-40.
I think the film would phrase the concept more like this: "The film goes to great lengths to simplify the notion that those 'people' are actually any more real than their characters because it emphatically shows the idea that the active recognition of the construct of artifice and acting can be as rewarding as knowing which parts are supposedly real and which are not. If the illusion is as rewarding as the truth, then why must one know the truth in fiction? In fiction, mind you, which is what you are watching. Don't ask the question, know the answer: it's fiction."
You may say, "That doesn't answer the question of whether one layer is more 'real' or not" - but I would say that the answer is worth less than not asking to begin with in this case. Or something. And maybe in every case.
For a display of this principle in action, watch The Baby of Macon. It's one of the main points of the film. Holy Motors plays a bit with 'the world' as a whole being constant and the individuals within switching between planes of 'real' and false, but The Baby of Macon moves the world itself from (inside out):
A fiction film with a non-obtrusive camera
A fictionally filmed play, set where the audience cannot see
A fictionally filmed play, set where one cannot tell whether the audience can see or not but the viewer cannot see the play (visible obstructions)
A fictionally filmed play, set where the audience can see and the film viewer can see the audience
A fictionally filmed play, set where a subset of the audience can interact with the play, where the audience can see the play, and the film viewer can see the audience.
And then there's the stuff with actors dying and revealing they're actors, like in Holy Motors.
And then there's that scene, where the film has revealed every possible layer of artifice to the point where you know at every moment that what you are watching is fake - and absolutely nothing is lost, because it doesn't matter how many levels of abstraction you have, the function of the construct itself is all that matters.
Asking bad questions causes confusion and makes art seem bad when it may otherwise be found to be great.
It's not enough to question, one needs to question one's questions!
Last edited by Semp; 11-29-2012 at 07:48 AM.
Another is this: "Fingers are delicious!"
I prefer the latter. I guess that's the eternal optimist/cannibal in me.
On another note, Mauvais Sang is lovely and wonderful. It's like the only thing from the 80s that wasn't so steeped in garishness that it feels like it should spontaneously burst into flames. Probably because he isolated prime colors. Had he really let loose... there would have been rainbows, man, rainbows.
Aw, garishness is the best thing about the 80's!
Hopefully, Holy Motors renews interest in Carax's whole body of work, and we get another run of Mauvais Sang on DVD so I don't have to shell out $50-60 bucks for a fairly bare bones addition.
Finally saw this last night and at first I thought I hated it (although I did really love the Kylie Minogue segment), but then I started thinking about it and now it's left such an impression on me.
There's so much going on and I'm glad there's this thread to try and sort out what certain things mean.
A few thoughts/questions:
1. "Who We Were" is such an amazing song.
Will you join the Geography Club?
Transmigration baby, transmigration !
I challenge you all to read this, and then see how beautifully this framework works with this film (not to mention INLAND EMPIRE)! I'm not saying that there's not a ton of other stuff going on in Holy Motors (it's certainly not a minimalist work ), but the transmigration of souls angle fits like a glove (for me anyway). Unlike many of you, I've only seen the film once, so my interpretations will likely grow and change with further viewings. Perhaps the Kylie Minogue character is an old soul (co-worker from a different limo?) who having worked through many cycles (falling in love with Lavant in one of them?), is now on the verge of breaking out of the cycle and reaching nirvana ( ha, you know ... the end credits mansion from INLAND EMPIRE!) ... so that this parting with Lavant may be the last (well, at least until the soul that all of his characters embody itself reaches nirvana) ... hence the extreme sadness. I dunno ... play with that theory ... it's FUN ! Don't fight it !! Anyway, it sure makes a lot of the dialogue make sense! ( I can't recall exactly, but Lavant says something to the chimps about soon leaving their current animal stage ... onto the next realm. ) The lyrics to Minogue's song as well ... The use of masks (like Lynch blurring the faces at IE's start) shows that the vessel (body) that each soul inhabits is not really that important ... it's the one deep inner soul moving through those incarnations that is. Notice as well the preponderence of dogs (inside rooms) throughout as well. I like how Carax has brought in the tech angle as well ( ala 2001 ). How perfectly HAL's death scene would've fit in Holy Motors ! When you all do see HM again, give this theory a try ... it's a cool framework, and for me the simplest.
I love that, Ciro ... grazi !! Utter perfection, and so apropos to this film. That and my circle of life theory are all I need. Let's all meet in Toledo and recreate Buñuel's brilliant game! Count me in!!
Oh, and this fool has some nice HM stories ( and Carax/Mendes pics ) as well.
It's a love letter to the purity for the performance art and for that I admire the film. I can't say that I love it but there are some great set pieces here in fact every moment instilled an emotional response from me and this was amazing considering how the film is presented like a collection of short stories. Of course there are parts I felt that caught me off guard (especially the violent moments) but during the halfway point I decided f*** it and just interpret this a reality created from Mr. Oscar's imagination of the role and part.
And I do agree with it's argument ... in today's world anybody can be a celebrity with youtube and the internet but still very few can call themselves performers.
Wrote another criticism pretty quickly. Hope you all enjoy it! (Hope it does something for someone.)
by Leos Carax
Holy Motors opens on a literal nightmare. The protagonist, a past-middle aged banker named Oscar (Denis Lavant, who takes on many other faces and names through the course of this film) dreams of himself in a hotel, with a wall that unlocks into a cinema's balcony area, and a plane, somewhere in the background, moving towards his hotel. At first this scene -- and much, if not all of the film -- was too esoteric to understand, but once you stop thinking about it, and you watch the movie, it all starts to click.
Oscar is a man who has lived a life of quiet emptiness. Through surreal vignettes that depict nine of Oscar's appointments in a day - the ones where he changes himself the way a banker might put on an act for his client - we see the reasons why his life is so melancholic and he so withdrawn. In some of the segments, technology is pointed at as a major factor for his disconnect; in some, his deep-seated sadness seems very much related to his sexuality, and his lack of physical comfort. He is a lonely man - scrawny, even; dessicated by his life's routine, and very self-abating as a result.
In one segment he kills himself. In two, actually. He is scheduled to be in places for no real reason - but through these abstractions, and the things that he does, money comes to him, or a livelihood is provided; we don't understand it, but maybe Oscar doesn't understand how being good at math makes one rich, either. In this sense, the film is also fantastical because it has a very tenuous grasp on what we perceive as reality. Part of the reason for this is because it seems like half of the Leos Carax's intention with the film was to give his most frequent collaborator and dear friend a fascinating role to work with - because in this world Denis Lavant is not an actor many people will give a major role to despite his unparalleled work ethic. He is what you would get if you slapped Robert De Niro and Buster Keaton in a blender. An undying commitment to the role and a joyful spirit; fantastic realization of the craft, and a wild imagination.
This all comes through in this role, and more, because this role requires a lot from one person, and he is more than capable of any task. An old gypsy woman begging for change? Got it. A disappointed father? Got it. Accordion rocking? Got it. Satirizing a dying uncle from one of those hokey French family dramas? Got it. Murderers? Got it. Godzilla incarnate? Got it. There's more, but I'm out of "got it"s.
Although I feel the tone of the film could have been evened out and left me feeling more. Melancholy is almost always present, but you sort of have to think about it to feel it, it's abstract in that way. Concurrently, there are many other things to think about at the same time, so it can feel jumbled when you start to think about it. It's also presented in different ways in different segments, so you can feel the crushing blows and insecurities felt of an unfulfilled father talking down to his daughter one moment, but then move into the confused sadness of some other character in the next shot; one will be presented very straightforward and the next may have visual flourish that will draw your mind's attention. That's why it's best to turn off your mind during the course of this film despite your instincts or your others who say otherwise.
My opinion is I like it all. I thoroughly enjoyed many of the segments, and while some parts dragged because of those aforesaid pacing issues, - the film isn't as smoothly (re: astonishingly) realized as The Lovers On The Bridge - as a sprawling attempt to capture lightning in a bottle with Denis Lavant in multiple parts, as well as uniquely imagine the loneliness of the world on screen, this film is a major success. It's something bold and fascinating, entirely cinematic; imperfect only for its lack of cadence. Marvelous though. Simply marvelous.
It's my #4 of the year. I nominate Denis Lavant and Carax for his original screenplay. I also have a "Visual Design" category that I nominate it for, too.
Last edited by forizzer69; 12-20-2012 at 08:37 AM.
Love the writeup!
Although I have to say that it was Leos Carax himself who wake up in the hotel and unlocked the wall to the cinema.
And I love Tabu, too. Maybe I'll get to see that one in the cinema. And I'll try to do a writeup for The Master when I see it again, second-run cinema. I love those two very much.
I just came back from watching this and trying to let it all sink in. I've never seen any of Carax's previous films (which I will correct quickly). It's a work of art and definitely one of the best movies of the year.
Nose hair ID security doors.
I want these now(!).
"Keep yoah paint outta my pahhking spot aaaahhhht depaaahhhhhtment!!!"
Caught up with this one finally, and very glad I did. Absolutely a mesmerizing filmmaking achievement, though I definitely want to see it a second time to process it more and see what I didn't absorb or notice the first time around. Lavant's performance is nothing short of a masterclass.
So, I wasn’t impressed by this, at all. I cannot say I hated it either, I wasn’t bored or irritated by it, I just looked in a state of mild intrigue for what would come next but not especially amused or engaged.
I think a movie like this one lives and dies by its imagery, and I found the imagery in this to be rather pedestrian. There was very little that I found suggestive, or beautiful, or ugly, or remarkable in any way. I read here that Carax has complained about having to do it in digital. Well, maybe that’s what he’s hinting at, if he controls actual film better, maybe he would have come up with more engaging images than he’s come up with in digital. I’ve read here the comparisons to Lynch, and well, while I don’t think we’re exactly in the same territory, I understand that we’re talking about directors who work with fantasy, dreams and unclear “narratives” (if we can talk about that) that mix reality and things that don’t belong to it in the usual sense. But the comparison allows me to express what I felt towards this movie: in Lynch, the images haunt me (or move me, or appeal to me, or terrify me) even though I don’t intellectually understand what’s happening. I didn’t feel that watching Holy Motors. I couldn’t care less for these images that I found to be either too obvious, or too flat, or too reminiscent of other directors’ works that made it better. Sometimes, the concept is original and appealing enough (the segment with Eva Mendes, and Lavant as that goblin-like creature), but the way it’s filmed it’s not evocative or suggestive or atmospheric or shocking or mysterious or anything special. Some other times, not even the concept was appealing: like, a naked child running towards the screen. OMG our utmost purity, our original, pre-identity selves! OMG pity that a naked child is such a tired cliché to convey so! And like, I was 100% sure that at one point I’d see one of Lavant’s impersonations killing another Lavant impersonation, and voilà, there you had it.
I also think a clearer influence than Lynch is Buñuel. The use of animals is completely Buñuel-esque, and the segment with the uncle and the niece is almost a remake of Tristana, and it shocks me that Aaron uses it as an example of a moving segment, when the obvious Tristana connection signals that it’s supposed to be about a very ugly affair.
Which leads me to something I haven’t seen in the posts in here, although I haven’t read all of them like, super-carefully, so perhaps someone already mentioned it: most, if not all, of the relations we see in here are abusive man-woman relations, with the man always abusing the woman: first the woman in the red suit in the green screen segment, appears only as an object of desire. Then Eva Mendes kidnapped by a satyr-like creature (and Mendes poses as a statue all the time, just another object of sex for the male). Then the father that is unbearably pushy to his daughter, compelling her to be like, sluttier, so to be more popular. In the segment when Lavant kills Lavant, the second Lavant is first seen caressing and kissing your typical “gangster girlfriend” woman. Then of course the creepy uncle-niece segment. Hell, the movie has, very early on, a young girl looking out of a window in clear Maya Deren fashion, in an image, lifted from “Meshes of the Afternoon”, that has always seen as a representation of female confinement. And the woman with a more substantial role, Céline, is still an employee, a subordinate, of Lavant.
I, however, think Carax doesn’t say anything very insightful about it. He creates a feeling that men can only relate to women in that way, as if they were children (the naked child!) or satyrs or creepy old men abusing young girls, and that’s perhaps a reason for the feeling Aurelius mentioned that it all seems to be about relations in which a complete communication between people seems to be impossible, but I don’t think there’s more beyond that vague feeling, and I think it’s an odd simplification of men-women dynamics, and a rather male-centric one even if there was a vague criticism of it, which I’m not sure there is.
In the Kylie Minogue segment it all seems to coalesce and crystallize into something, at long last, appealing, meaningful and interesting, and from there the film does pick up steam into an midly moving/disturbing finale (with the monkeys, before the anti-climatic and pedestrian ending with the cars talking), but to me it was too little, too late.
I mean, there are interesting things to chew in here, as I said, I didn’t hate the movie: the way the different identities bleed into each other, the considerations about how the roles we play determine the way we relate to others (mainly, to women and to ourselves), although that “we” seems to be only “we, heterosexual men”, and about our deeper (pre-identity, I agree, kupo!) impulses. But I’d say everything is done in a rather slogan-ish way: flashy but not insightful, and with a tad of obviousness. And since the imagery is not there (to me, this is always in my opinion) to suggest deeper implications or to truly engage you in these ventures, I was just detached from the whole thing, mildly intrigued about its meaning and its development, but never implicated in it.
I feel a bit put off by the reaction to it. It makes it seem as if critics are just going to embrace anything that feels this weird without being able to tell the great weird from the failed attempts. I adore “Inland Empire”, for instance, and going back to the Lynch comparison. But all the praise it got feels now hollow because critics would embrace anyways the flatter version of it just because it’s weird too, regardless of the true talent and cinematic skill (or lack of them) behind them. Never mind that Lynch is able to terrify you and move you and affect the deepest and most obscure parts of your brain and emotions just with his cinematic skill (visual composition, editing, puzzle-like narrative built, however, with utmost purpose and rigour): as long as the film’s appearance is bizarre and there isn’t a traditional narrative, we’ll love you anyways! But, I don’t know, it may be a problem of mine and people were actually as engaged by this as they were by Lynch or Buñuel, and felt its images are as absorbing, provoking and subversive as those from the other two masters. But I can’t help feeling this is the banalization of all that, the “let’s make it for the festival crowd” version of things that came from more authentic places.
Now, let the “OMG you liked Les Miz, disliked this” jokes begin.