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Dec 19, 2012 9:00AM
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This is a movie without a philosophical center, the worst kind of pseudo-profound claptrap.  The ending is so silly it would be laughable if not for the 2 hours one has just wasted.  I truly enjoy films that are strange and unpredictable from scene to scene, and this film sustained that wonder for a short while, until I realized there was no meaning or even poetry in the work.
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Top 10 movies of 2012

5. "Holy Motors"

At the beginning of Leos Carax's mysterious "Holy Motors," a modern-day Lon Chaney named Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) walks through a hotel wall into a crowded movie theater. Thereafter, he's chauffeured by an elegant older woman (Edith Scob, iconic star of Franju's "Eyes Without a Face") to a series of "appointments"/performances. Within the fertile womb of his silver limousine, M. Oscar applies elaborate disguises, metamorphosing into one cinematic lead after another: ancient crone, sexual gymnast in a motion-capture suit, gangster, sewer-dwelling grotesque, et al. A quicksilver chameleon, Lavant uses up -- and is used up by -- movie genres like sci-fi, musical, poetic horror, Lynchian surrealism. At working day's end, even Pixar's "Cars" is playfully referenced: stabled limousines -- the holy machines that project M. Oscar and his colleagues -- sleepily worry about their futures in a digital age. Carax follows Quentin Tarantino's lead by "sampling" film styles and genres, to conjure meta-cinematic art that's about nothing but movies. Difference is, Tarantino harvests his reel riches joyously, feeding our appetite for aesthetic and emotional energy. Carax drives us through haunted streets, from energized morning until weary night, one film reality eliding exuberantly into another, until his cinematic imagination -- and "Holy Motors" -- runs out of gas. It's as though the very act of making movies, dreaming up and acting out fictions, is an ecstatic process of terrible attrition and entropy, cinema consuming itself through its own forward motion. Dimming into melancholy, "Holy Motors" pays tribute to a passing art. -- Kat Murphy

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