Carax. Leos Carax was born in 1960- the year of Godard’s Breathless and has been lauded as the heir apparent to Godard and the French New Wave since he came onto the scene in the mid 1980’s. He’s made only a total of five features since his debut in 1984. His strength for the purchases of this list is the utter rareness of his voice. These four archiveable films (have not been able to catch up to his debut Boy Meets Girl yet) are bold gambles – uncompromising. His weakness would be only a lone single film- The Lovers on the Bridge- lands in the top 100 of its respective decade.
Best film: The Lovers on the Bridge. Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche – both do some of their very best work in Carax’s lush, expressionist, romance. The firework scene on the Pont Neuf Bridge along the river Seine stands out as one of the better sequences in 1990’s cinema—dazzling compositions.
total archiveable films: 4
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 0
top 100 films of the decade: 1 (The Lovers on the Bridge)
most overrated: Holy Motors is the sole film from 2012 on the TSPDT consensus top 1000. It is a challenging film. I’ve seen it twice, admire the hell out of its audacity – but find several films from 2012 to be superior.
most underrated : Nothing here. The Lovers on the Bridge is #553 on the TSPDT consensus list which is a good spot for it- I’d be very close to that. Mauvais Sang is #1101 and that’s a good spot I believe as well.
gem I want to spotlight : Mauvis Sang. Twenty-five year old Carax directing Binoche and Lavant with Bowie’s Modern Love, an untethered camera. It’s lyrical and moody- it’ll make you swoon, an intoxicating achievement of cinematic style.
- Heir to Godard, boy genius enfant terrible
- More poetry than prose
- Avant-garde, expressionistic compositions – blending reality and surrealism
- Collaborations with Denis Lavant (only Pola X doesn’t feature Lavant of the five films Carax has directed)
- Impressionistic, temperamental, lyrical and elliptical
- Doomed romances, disenchantment, anti-establishment
- The Lovers on the Bridge
- Mauvais Sang
- Holy Motors
- Pola X
By year and grades
|1986- Mauvais Sang||HR|
|1991- The Lovers on a Bridge||HR|
|1999- Pola X||R|
|2012- Holy Motors||HR|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
Next Movie « Annette » with Adam Driver !!
@KidCharlemagne— very excited! – Don’t forget Marion Cotillard. My guess is it’ll debut at Cannes next year
[…] 205. Leos Carax […]
very exciting news here for Cannes in July https://variety.com/2021/film/global/cannes-festival-to-open-with-marion-cotillard-adam-driver-starrer-annette-1234954497/
Can’t wait! Spike Lee will be President of the Jury as well. Let’s hope Carax becomes more prolific in the new decade, just without falling victim to some of the missteps of Terrence Malick in the last one.
In preparation for the release of his new film, I’ve decided to finally watch Holy Motors. I planned to watch it originally months ago (sometime around November, December…), but never got around to it. I’d give it a MS/MP myself. There’s a lot in the film that is extremely admirable and the decision to stick to an arguably non-existent narrative is very striking psychologically, the puzzle of figuring everything out. In the opening scene I was sure it would be a giant MP, and while the rest of the film didn’t live up to the quality of the intro I still thought it was excellent. I felt that more than anything, camera movement and lighting seem to be Carax’s language. I was a bit divided on Lavant’s performance during the first half of the film but in the second half I was convinced of his talent and ability to portray the protagonist. If there’s one film I’d compare it to, it would be Under The Skin from Glazer a year later (also a MS/MP according to my ranking, and coincidentally another director who needs to get up and finally make another film as well). I was really struck by how it takes a while for you to realize everything in the film is actually staged; for me, I’m thinking about it right now how nothing that happens in the film can actually be real; the suicide, the murder of the banker, and the kidnapping of the model all particularly looked real when they were happening (more so than the other things that happened), and now thinking back on them, if the other stuff that happened in the film was fake, so was everything else.
Regardless, there were still things I could do without. Some of the shots aren’t as good as they could be, where I’d change the angle of the shot, some of the framing, or the distance and position of the camera to what I’d think would be better, and I really could’ve done without the CGI during the motion-capture scene (which was otherwise my favorite scene in the movie); I would’ve preferred if it was shot more practically, and looked a bit like the creation scenes in The Tree of Life from Malick. That being said, I don’t know enough about motion-capture myself so it’s possible that this would be literally impossible to actually execute. Overall I don’t really have a lot of complaints, though it’s enough to knock it from a full MP. Will be awaiting the release of Annette.
So I’ve just found out about Annette and I’m incredibly excited. I haven’t watched much of Carax, but the Lovers on the Bridge was excellent and from what I see Annette will probably be in the same vein. I’m prepared for an expressionist fever dream. Adam Driver is slowly but steadily establishing himself as one of the best actors of his generation and regardless of how this project goes he definitely seems to know what he is willing to do when it comes to cinema as art. And Marion Cotillard is always a reason to watch a film. It kind of seems like a comeback for her, since she’s been a little quiet ever since Two Days, One Night. That being said, I hope that you may get around to a rewatch of the Lovers on the Bridge, because I think that it’s a little underrated on a HR status. I’d have it as a MS and there is a lot to admire in the way of photography, as it starts out as stark neorealism and there is some wonderful work done in this regard with lighting, playfully interchanging between blues and yellows and bouncing off Binoche and Lavant’s faces. Shaky cameras and location shooting. And then there comes a point in the film where everything just goes berserk and it turns into expressionism at its heights. The highlight is obviously the firework sequence and that’s cinematic bliss, but there are other sequences in the film worth noting – the one with Binoche chasing after her past partner is filmed and presented in a nightmarish way, near the end as they go through the River Seine, or when Lavant sets this track and its driver on fire. Those are intense moments and a triumph on atmosphere and perspective. There is also a lot of symbolism in the dialogue and the events as well referring to relationships and making a statement on the selfish, destructive and yet transcendent nature of love at its most liberating extremes. It felt closer to where the TSPDT have placed it, at around #500-600.
@Georg- I think you’re probably right here about Lovers on the Bridge– it is a film that has stuck with me. I’m excited to revisit.
Have you yet seen Annette?
@Zane- I have seen Annette- caught it in theater. I will see it again but for now I did not find enough there to put it in the archives. Certainly, it is a unique film.
@Drake – Yeah, to be honest, I kinda expected as much. I was wondering since one of the guys I know on Letterboxd rated it only one star, which is pretty bad, and the overall reception there is rather below average.
Sad to see a film directed by him with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard be so weak, but I suppose it’s whatever.