273 Great Directors: Leos Carax

“If Denis had said no, I would have offered the part to Lon Chaney or to Chaplin. Or to Peter Lorre or Michel Simon, all of whom are dead.”

Why This Director?
: See below.

My Last Experience Was…: See below.

What Did I Watch: All five. Boy Meets Girl, Lovers on the Bridge, and Pola X were first timers. Mauvais Sang and Holy Motors were rewatches.

Where Does He Fit: Boy Meets Girl works best as a collage, with its funniest and best scene occurring early on in a cafe, where communication between all the patrons is nonsensical and funny, ranging from the owner not selling small drinks, a woman who gets a free coffee for no reason, and a man shouting on the telephone. With the protagonist being an aspiring filmmaker who is in love with a woman after recovering from a breakup, you would expect something awful and Sundancey, but Carax’s visions are too weird and the quirk is clearly married to the darkness in a healthy way, rather than something designed to be aggressively silly for dumb Americans.

Mauvais Sang, a film I caught only by chance because of the whims of my parents to go to Film Forum only for yours truly to be blown away that this was by the Holy Motors man and had inspired Frances Ha so many years later to boot. The plot of this is some vague allegory about AIDS that does not make nearly as much sense as Carax thinks it does, for we are simply too astounded by the sheer ridiculousness of Denis holding a gun to his head to escape the building, or Juliette Binoche’s entrance. I still remember people laughing at Darley-Wilkinson, but it’s a chuckle that feels more earned now.

Lovers on the Bridge is terribly seductive and fucking filthy, much like Denis’ newest character, who seems entitled to Juliette Binoche as if they had met in a past life…or film. Holy Motors clearly was building to that relevation, no? This is a love that is abusive, designed to bring up that song Kylie sings but with the fireworks and boat rides and museum trips making it clear that abusive relationships can be just as terrible as they are funny and ridiculous. If you are sick and going blind, maybe ignorance is bliss even when it comes to a potential treatment.

Pola X was dismissed as Carax’s weakest, booed at Cannes and killing his career for quite a while before he came back with a second debut of sorts. Such a shame, as this is his second best beyond Holy Motors, slowly falling apart as a coherent tale as it becomes more exciting, a feat of spooky compositions and deliciously flat performances given life by the scary score of Scott Walker and a street gang of musicians. Between this and Twentynine Palms, I have a thing for the gone-too-soon Katerina Golubeva and her flat affect as someone else’s vision of European beauty.


And I already wrote about Holy Motors, so…

Most Valuable Asset: Short bursts of nuttiness…and dirt.
Most Excited For: His upcoming film with Driver/Mara.

Coming Up Next: We finally start the people associated with TSPDT, beginning with those who are no longer in the Top 250. John Lasseter from Pixar comes first.


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