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
Bing: More about 'Holy Motors' | More on Denis Lavant
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