Sunday, December 16, 2012
The movie's a wonder - following Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant, one of cinema's greatest special effects) across Paris for nine different and increasingly abstract performance assignments, HOLY MOTORS registers both as pure cinematic thrills and a more personal, dialectic look at how digital forces are increasingly shaping our world. Director Leos Carax happily isn't a polemicist; indeed, in a film rife with references to the work of his countrymen (the episodes and interludes recall Feuillade, Renoir, Demy, Truffaut, Franju, and probably others - hell, Carax even references himself with a short sequel to Merde!, his segment of the omnibus film TOKYO!), the strident political diatribes of Godard are mercifully absent. What remains is a celebration of the possibilities of cinema, a potentiality undimmed (though certain, Carax reminds us, to be changed) by the prospects of a digital future. Like all great films, its surface pleasures are more than enough to hold our interest, but it contains multitudes and myriad deeper meanings that unfold and intensify as it lingers in the mind. Even the movie's melancholic moments seem to juice the exhilaration of it. It's one of the most gripping statements of total cinema I've ever experienced, and after seeing it twice I doubt I've exhausted it.
And fuck me if it doesn't look better in digital projection than 35mm.