on February 28, 2013
I am appalled to discover that Amazon censors movies on VOD. And I thought censorship was dead. Well, it's not. It's alive and flourishing at Amazon!
Knowing little about the scene in question, I initially thought the blur was the director's choice, perhaps to suggest that Mr. Merde had no genitalia. But, now, I understand differently and I am rather disappointed in Amazon and will AVOID RENTING R, NC-17 or unrated titles through their VOD service in future. They may not require membership, but they still charge a fee, so shouldn't their VOD be treated similarly to NetFlix, who I can confirm appears to not be constrained by FCC rules and regulations for TV/cable broadcast?
At any rate, I'm going to be more cautious now when renting streaming movies from Amazon.
UPDATE: I can't hold Amazon completely responsible, anymore, though they should be aware of any censorship in their streaming titles, and I would expect them to refuse titles from companies who censor them. The same censored version of this film has been added to another subscription-required streaming service. I thought they might have the uncensored version, since they require a membership, but they are streaming the same version as Amazon, so it must be the studio's decision to censor the movie for streaming purposes.
on December 21, 2012
Enter at your own risk. This movie is quite capable of confusing you and making you angry. It could delight or overwhelm you, win you over or enrage you. It could make you feel like cursing and truly hate all art-house in general, French art-house in particular, and Leon Carax, and his collaborators, specifically.
For me, "Holy Motors" is very interesting, unpredictable, shocking and ever-changing. It is my kind of movie in which the writer/director expresses his admiration for cinema as an art form. I've always felt a deep respect for the filmmakers who use in their original and unpredictable pictures the references, allusions, and direct calls to the other movies and to film creators who inspired them. "Holy Motors" is one of those pictures - about film and film-making.
Our life - is a (movie) theater, and we are actors in the movie that plays in the theater. For me, it is the first thing to keep in mind when you try to make sense of what is actually going on and what "Holy Motors" is about. I see it as a dedication to all movies and the genres. Here they are, the Umbrellas of Cherbourg and deadly struggle of the character and his doppelganger in the gangster movie. There are also the references to beauty and the beast, not Disney's version nor Jean Cocteau's, but shockingly funny monster of Walerian Borowczyk's La Bete (1975) aka The Beast. Still gorgeous Edith Scob (Celine, limo driver and Monsieur Oscar's business partner), puts on a mask in the latest episode of the film - direct reference to the classic horror, Georges Franju's film "Eyes Without a Face" (1959), where she played her most famous role in the film, which defined the whole genre. And, perhaps, "Holy Motors" is an update version of Celine and Julie that looks at the story or many stories from different angles and plays with them. Could it be Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" in Paris, with limousine - sort of Charon's boat plying between the worlds of the living and the dead, reality and illusion, film and audience, between the actors and their characters? Or maybe this is Un Chien Andalou / Andalusian Dog for our time with the script by Charlie Kaufman - open doors to the irrational; do not try to explain the unexplainable. Maybe Carax could say just like Luis Buñuel, "You need an explanation? I do not have any." Just look closely at images and metamorphosis and try not to search for the meaning in them. They may not have a special meaning at all but would it make the movie any worse? Would the movie affect you any less if you can't grab its meaning? Perhaps the meaning in the words by Monsieur Oscar as father to his teenage daughter in his most realistic role: "You are punished by being just yourself all your life." Isn't it sad never let the world of imagination, illusion and fantasy pull you beyond reality, where you are just you? ... But can one only exist in a world of illusion and change masks one by one and forget what the real face is?
Denis Lavant, director-screenwriter Leos Carax's alter ego, works wonders here, changing into nine personalities during the course of movie. His face is fascinating - the face of Socrates, and satyr, murderer, and wise tired clown. Of modern actors, John Malkovich and Malcolm McDowell have such impressive faces... And so, Lavant's hero or, rather, heroes travel all day long with Celine, the driver, passing striking views of Paris, impersonating different personalities, who are on the weird, shocking, crazy, unbelievable missions, ordered by someone unknown, captured on the camera by someone unseen but always present.
I read somewhere that idea of Motors came from Carax interest and curiosity in very long limousines, obsolescent powerful toys, whether messengers of the past in the future, or, on the contrary, from future in the past, sort of motorized brontosaurs. What's inside, who is inside? The size is such that it is possible to live ... or to prepare for the transition from one life to another, and then, third, and more. And to appear in every life in a completely different roles - a killer, a victim, a beggar, a millionaire, a monster named Monsieur S***, a caring father to a shy, awkward teenage girl , then the futuristic creature having sex with the elastic beauty covered in red plastic...And then he returns home...Or does he?
And maybe Holy Motors is not just about us looking at stretched limousines, but about them looking at us and gossiping about us and their future in hushed silence and darkness of the company "Holy Motors"' night garage.
But what Holy Motors is for sure - the message that was sent beyond our world - "Katya, this is for you" - the last frame of the movie with a picture and dedication to Leos Carax's muse and beloved, Ekaterina Golubeva (1966-2011).
on November 26, 2012
It's not that most people have many expectations when seeing this movie. I was unfamiliar with the Writer/Director Leos Carax, most of the lead actors and the trailer left me puzzled. It's the ability of the movie to continually surprise, confuse and alternately either amuse or frustrate you that is its greatest delight. There is a narrative throughout the film that involves Monsieur Oscar (Denis Levant) being chauffeured in a tacky limousine by a middle-aged, classically French beauty (Edith Scob). He goes from "job" to "job" during the course of one day and becomes different characters, presented in a series of vignettes that are very different, mostly stand-alone stories filmed in different styles and moods. Don't expect to learn much more about Monsieur Oscar. You don't even know if he is really alive or dead and end the end it doesn't matter. He's just a vehicle (metaphor?) to tell the different stories. Some you will like more than others. My friends I spoke to about this film didn't agree on which ones they liked. They cover a pretty vast range of emotions in the human experience. It's whatever strikes a chord with you. The stories themselves can be enjoyed at face value but there is plenty of symbolism to give those who enjoy interpreting such things fodder for many a dinner party. I haven't read any official reviews of this film but I did see a quote from Leos Carax that the film is (paraphrasing) "not about the cinema... who would go see a movie about that"? Well, for me that's confirmation that on one level that the film is indeed about cinema itself and how audiences expectations have changed. In this sense, this is a movie for movie buffs which is probably why it has won so many awards. That's just one of many themes running through it. There are others that you may perceive... or not. I loved this film while watching it and thinking about it for days later, which is not something I normally do. If you can let go of the classic Hollywood storytelling model, you may be surprised how much you like this movie too.
on February 6, 2013
Some movies are made for a very specific audience. The kind of audience that yearns for a creation that has never been tried before and when transformed into an audio-visual format, leaves you speechless and spellbound once you have had the luck and the pleasure to view it. That's Holy Motors for you. There are quite a few actors in the movie. And kudos to the director for extracting every bit of acting abilities from each one of them. Be it the lead protagonist or the assistant of the photographer who gets shocked when trying to interrupt him from admiring beauty or even the kid playing his teenaged daughter. No matter how big or small the size of your role or your screen time, everyone did an amazing job - thanks to the director.
It is not very often that you get the opportunity to watch a movie that has almost no relationship to anything you might have seen before on the big screen or has any association with life as it exists (for the most part) and yet is not about special effects or scifi or historical events or futuristic fantasies. That's Holy Motors for you. Every scene is a fantasy of it's own special kind and leaves you thinking - thinking about the purpose and need of the event that you just saw. More often than not, you won't be able to derive any logical reason out of what you saw? But isn't it what we deal with on a day to day basis in our day to day lives - trying to find reasons and logic behind anything and everything that we have to go through (be it the good, the bad or the ugly); go through extreme emotions of happiness and excitement and sadness and dilemma that our lives subject us to? What if we go through emotions that we cannot define? That's what Holy Motors did for me and for all the reviews I have read about the movie - ever since I saw it on big screen - that is what I understood from all the other viewers who saw this movie. Anyone who had the time and patience to give a true description of what they thought about this movie had one common thing to say - the movie left them thinking. But no one could truly define what is it that the movie left them thinking about. It is extremely hard to put down in words because that's how intriguing and deep and intricate this movie is. To be honest - I really don't want to know the answer and the gist about what this movie is trying to convey or what the director had in his mind when he was making this piece. It is personal to him. And in a similar way - he has given a personal gift to everyone who was touched after watching this movie and yet cannot define or put in words what exactly touched them. That is what movies should be all about - and unfortunately for the most of them, they are not. But i am glad I saw Holy Motors and it succeeded in giving me what I was looking for - nothing at all, yet everything that I don't find in movies that I am subjected to in the world that we live in.
Parting thoughts - How come Kylie Minogue never ceases to look beautiful and has a voice to match? Lucky, Lucky, Lucky!
"Holy Motors" is at once lyrically beautiful and unabashedly confounding. Director Leos Carax has made an utterly unique film that is so entirely unlike anything I've ever seen before that it is impossible to categorize in any relevant way. The film stars the amazingly versatile actor Denis Lavant as Mr. Oscar, a mysterious man who assumes nine completely unique identities in wholly separate storylines that are seamlessly integrated in unpredictable ways. The film plays on several levels, most obviously as an allegorical piece about the nature of life, dreams, and film through the years. The intriguing opening sequence in the theater and naming the character Mr. Oscar make the movie theme more obvious, but there is extensive symbolism throughout the film, some of which is fairly obvious, but most of which is challenging to obscure. The film is visually gorgeous, and every frame is interesting, but one thing's for sure: the film demands your full attention if you have any hope of keeping up.
The connecting fiber of the film is the dreamlike "appointments" Mr. Oscar has to keep throughout his ordeal-laden day. He is escorted to these appointments by Céline (the still lovely Edith Scob,) the limo driver of the netherworld. The film careens wildly between the appointments, and the suspense of what is coming next is almost palpable. One minute Lavant is running on a treadmill with a machine gun, the next minute there are snakes kissing before moving onto a flower eating scene in a cemetery. Note in the graveyard the tombstone that reads "Visit My Website." Humorous images like this pop up at the least expected times during the film and vanish quickly leaving the viewer to question what all has been missed. There are, by the way, a couple of uses of nudity in a non-erotic arthouse manner; both scenes are far more disturbing than titillating, and in both examples I was wholly unprepared for the exposure.
I liked the metaphor of Oscar's limousine, which is also a makeup and prosthetic lab to enable his transformations: he is being transported in grand Hollywood style between fateful appointments. The dialogue is sparse and the English subtitles are excellent, but most of the nuances of the film are visual, and require viewer cooperation to connect the dots as to what's going on at any moment. Lavant is a stunningly brilliant actor who slips seamlessly between roles, though some stories require more thespian skill than others, one that I found especially challenging was the scene in which Theo is murdered. I have never seen another film killing as deliberately misleading until the very end, and the ability of Carax to lead the audience into thinking they know what is coming next only to completely alter their outlook in the least expected way possible is astounding. Although the dialogue is generally sparse, what there is is both wry and brilliant. When Céline suggests that Mr. Oscar is feeling ill, for instance, he replies "I think I caught a cold killing the banker." There's no sign in his voice that there should be anything out of the ordinary in that killing (which is another visual stunner.) Likewise the surreal nature of the film is manifested in more incidental dialogue. When there is an altercation between drivers one yells the scathing insult "Ectoplasm on wheels!" You'd have to look far to find dialogue like that elsewhere.
I found the final appointment the most disturbing and poignant of all. Kylie Minogue turns up as a beautiful flight attendant; she does a great job with the role, and even though it had not previously been a musical, you take in in stride when she breaks into song without warning, because that's just the kind of thing Carax can do effortlessly. As Céline finally drops the weary Mr. Oscar off at his home after his exhausting day, we get the one glimpse into his personal life as we see him interact with his longsuffering wife. This twist is one of the greatest delights in the film, and it would be positively criminal to reveal it. Even as Céline takes the limo back to the garage to put it to sleep with all the other limos, she reprises her famous identity from 1960's "Eyes Without a Face," another coy nod at the cinematic roots of the film. I was also amused by the limos in the garage bantering back and forth before bedtime as they come to the realization they are all relics doomed to the scrapheap ("Old 5700-BC-78 is speaking the truth....") The film is a dreamlike circle of life movie with many intentional ambiguities (it is sometimes impossible to know if the characters are dead or alive) anchored by the theatrical trope that's the glue that holds the film together.
"Holy Motors" will be a very divisive love it or hate it movie. It is in your face and yet intensely subtle and is nearly impenetrable in a variety of ways. It is certainly not for the casual viewer, but if you love French cinema or you simply want to be challenged by a film that it alternately playful and morbid, it's definitely a film worth seeing.
on December 30, 2012
If there is still such a thing as the "tortured artist" in this day and age, Leos Carax is definitely it. Hailed as a genius with his first films in the Eighties "Boy Meets Girl" and "Mauvais Sang", and boasting the up and coming Juliette Binoche as a girlfriend, Mr. Carax seemed poised for an extraordinary career and a place in the Pantheon of the great filmmakers. However, all came to a crashing halt with the release of "Les Amants du Pont Neuf", his masterpiece, in 1991.
If you watch that film today it's impossible to think of it as anything other than a classic, but at that time the movie was the most expensive French film ever made, caused the bankruptcy of three producers, and was a critical bomb in France. An enthusiastic reception in the US might have changed the course of history, but as it happens, the film got a negative review by then New York Times critic, Janet Maslin, and you know what a bad NYT review can do for an art film. This does not mean that the film did not have fans, as it topped Film Comment's list of the Greatest Unreleased Films of the Nineties.
Carax and his career crashed and burned (including his relationship with Binoche) and he didn't make another film until 1999, "Pola X", which received a lukewarm reception.
And now 20 years after "Les Amants du Pont Neuf", and 13 years after "Pola X", Leos Carax has made a triumphant return with "Holy Motors", acclaimed at Cannes, getting awards in France, and being hailed as one of the year's best films by many of the major critics in the US.
This introduction is for those unfamiliar with Carax and who might not understand what all the fuzz is about, especially because as brilliant as "Holy Motors" is, it might not be the most immediately accesible of his works; if there is such a thing, it would be "Les Amants du Pont Neuf", but this is not an arthouse film for the "Downtown Abbey" crowd.
"Holy Motors" is a deliriously, joyous, operatic odissey through Paris, through cinema, and through the contemporary world. A mysterious man (Dennis Lavant, a Carax regular since his first film) rides around Paris in a limousine, as he assumes different identities, which include a homeless lady, a corporate raider, a working class dad, and a crazy elf. The film is constructed as a series of gorgeous set pieces which participate of different worlds and different movie genres: fantasy, science fiction, crime movies, contemporary realism. In this sense "Holy Motors" is poetic rather than narrative cinema, so don't expect an easy explanation or resolution.
This does not mean the film lacks suspense, on the contrary, it's a consistently dazzling and surprising experience, as M. Oscar goes about the world changing identities and doing everything, from engaging in a form of virtual sex in some futuristic games, to (as an Elf) kidnapping a silent Eva Mendes and taking her to an underground hideout in a Beauty and the Beast homage. There is also an extraordinary interlude featuring Kylie Minogue (yes, Kylie Minogue) which showcases the movie's and Carax's mad romanticism.
In this sense, "Holy Motors" is to be first experienced rather than understood, it's an spectacle, and at some points it has the feeling of a carnival. The director is putting on a show for the audience, as his main character is doing when assuming all these different identities and that gives the movie a Carnivalesque feeling, as we move through different worlds and characters: sublime, grotesque, disturbing, romantic. And you can feel the Director as the Orchestra Conductor, and in this sense, the film calls to mind, among many other films, Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, but with a much darker and maybe metaphysical understreak.
But let's the director end this review with his own words:
"In this world I invented, it's a way of telling the experience of a life without using a classical narrative, without using flashbacks. It's trying to have the whole range of human experience in a day" said in an interview with Indiewire.And then to Aintitcoolnews: "I really think of it as a film about the experience of being alive nowadays, alive in this world"
on March 9, 2013
This is a weird one; not really for someone who isn't prepared to think, and has some extreme moments so should not be considered family-friendly. I do not suggest watching this if you are easily offended, as there is one scene with gratuitous nudity--albeit blurred out in the edition I watched--and some over-the-top, almost comically so--violence (not much, but it is there).
Not a particularly complex film, but very dense with symbolism and film imagery and memes; this is a film that will probably leave you scratching your head and thinking "What did I just watch?" However, the lack of complexity is subjective; this film will be as complex or as simple as you decide it is, since it's interpretation is very much up to the observer.
Personally, I feel that the key to "understanding" it (if this is even necessary) is to realize who the person at the beginning of the film is; with that understanding, suddenly the whole film takes on a whole new meaning and became (for me, anyway) clearly understandable.
Your experience will almost certainly vary. Have fun with it! I did.
on March 10, 2013
The premise of the film is fairly easy to comprehend, although many reviewers seem puzzled by the format and editing. The main character, played by Denis Lavant, is a highly paid mercenary actor aptly named Oscar. His clients hire him to act out their fantasies in real life by seemingly abruptly intruding into their everyday existence and playing out some oddball fantasy script. To wit, Kay M (played by Eva Mendez) is a woman with obvious image issues who goes from preening at a fashion shoot to being kidnapped by a hobo (played by Oscar). The hobo takes her into a cave where instead of raping her, makes her wear a burka... The point of this particular tale being a philosophical inquiry into what is the correct 'posture' for a strong beautiful woman to adopt, struggling between the extremes of narcissism as a fashion model to a retiring beauty hidden by a full body burka.
The other tales follow a similar psychodrama style, wherein a banker pretends to get murdered at a restaurant on the Champs Elysées, a teenager acts out some unresolved father-daughter conflict and a flight attendant (played by Kylie Minogue) mourns her lost lover before committing suicide.
The pacing of the movie is slow by American standards and will no doubt tax the average viewer. The different chapters can be seen as small stand alone short subjects, but really only come into focus when viewed as a whole. The ending is perhaps the most surprising part because it seems to confuse the matter even more. If however you keep in mind the film's beginning and the fact that Oscar is driven around in a 'holy' limousine, perhaps what we are witnessing are Oscar's own post-mortem fantasies.
There are many hidden clues and nods to film buffs, from the main characters' name Oscar, to the Jean Seberg wig sported by Kylie Minogue. However, I find the rhythm to be ponderous, as is wont for typical French fare. Additionally some areas feel unresolved, like the motion capture sex scene which feels amateurish and shows Leos Carax' disdain for the splashy computer generated films of today. There are other hints of his displeasure with modern day moviemaking as when Oscar complains to Michel Piccoli that actors can no longer even see the cameras anymore because they are so miniaturized. Even the cars complain at the end that they feel obsolete. Perhaps the most pervading message Leos Carax tries to get across is a sense of regret over the loss of glamour in films today. There is a certain charm to this posture that I somewhat share although I feel this particular movie could have used some sharper crafting.
`Holy Motors' has been that one film released this year that has garnered so much critical attention for its mere being that I was convinced all year it was going to be the best thing I'd ever seen. The amount of outlandish and unrestrained hyperbole that was spewed all over this film for months had me anticipating the second coming. It has me recalling when `Margaret' was finally released after being shelved for like five years and people saw it and claimed it to be the most remarkable film they had ever laid eyes on. That was just a year ago. Already people have abandoned that notion and moved onto Leos Carax's `Holy Motors'.
The similarity between the two entities doesn't die there, for my reaction to each over-hyped masterpiece is the same; they are both the best and worst films of their respective years, which leaves me at a bit of a crossroads as far as my own personal attachment to the piece is concerned.
The main focal point of almost all the `talk' surrounding `Holy Motors' has been the fact that absolutely no one has any idea what this film is about, and so by virtue of that sentiment it must be about all things at once, thus becoming the only film in the history of cinema to say everything there is to say about absolutely nothing at all. I concur with this assessment because, when all is said and done and the limousines have stopped talking to one another I feel as though I have experiences something completely unlike anything else and yet I have no idea what it is that I have just experienced. Somewhere between the makeshift parade through the streets and the Disney inspired swan song in an abandoned building this film gained and lost and then gained me again and yet I'm still struggling to put any of it all together.
The basic gist of the story follows Mr. Oscar as he travels in a limo with Celine, his driver, from one appointment to the next. At each appointment he transforms into someone different and causes chaos of some sort, whether it be emotionally or physically. Each segment flows into the next, each feeling somewhat cohesive despite being drastically separate and by the end of the film they all seem to become a part of a larger whole. The many themes approached by this film are as varied and as complex as the many genres that the film tackles, explores and exemplifies. If balances the style with the substance in a way that I've never seen a film do before because the substance becomes a part of the style and visa-versa.
For the sake of trying to makes and tails of this film, and for the mere fact that that is what we are supposed to do with films like this, I'll throw out some random thoughts I had while watching the film and see if any of them stick.
Carax, to me, seems to be exploring the death of cinema. That was one of the more overwhelming feelings I had while watching the film, as if Lavant's Mr. Oscar represented cinema of the past and his journey to the film's end was like watching it slowly become corroded by new entities and whims and eventually die out. It became conformed and `tired'; stripped of its life and buoyancy thanks to the weighted feeling of change. In a way, I felt as if this signified a deeper stance on the more universal feeling of life's progression in general, the way that we as individuals fear adaptation and grow `tired' of the pressure to conform.
But there is more.
Within each segment, we are introduced to various characters, not only through Lavant's multi-faceted performance by through the various people he comes across. In each of these pairings we are shown another side to Mr. Oscar and thus given a chance to evaluate the themes of the film. The remorse of lives unfulfilled, the pain through stunted conversation and the tragedy of misunderstanding loom all over these acts and display a form of humanity that feels authentic and raw without becoming betrayed by theatrics (despite containing moments of outlandishness). The use of masks and makeup as a way to transcend daily routines give an air of melancholy with regard to the mundane quality of life as we live it and the need or desire to make it something more agreeable.
And yet I'm brought back to the central theme of film itself, for `Holy Motors' is above all else (at least in my eyes) a film about film and the love of film and the passion behind keeping film alive.
All hyperbole aside, `Holy Motors' is an experience. Depending on how you react to that experience will of course shape what it is you actually take away from it, but there is no denying that `Holy Motors' is a film that defines film, whether that be in a good or bad way. There are few films that can rest on that merit alone. Whether you love or hate this film, the bottom line is that you lived it. Say what you must, but the film's greatest asset is probably the fact that everyone walks away feeling something totally different, and so it has the ability to become all things to all people while seemingly being about absolutely nothing at all.
on March 6, 2013
I just finished watching the movie and the trailer again and like it happens with most movies the trailer completely misleads you. I refuse to use the word "weird" but "Holy Motors" is definitely a very different and unusual film, like nothing you have seen before. Definitely it is not a Hollywood product and definitely not a film for big audiences. It is the kind of film that you will actually enjoy much better when you watch it the second time if you like good cinema and enjoy watching them over and over. The story is simple and complicated at the same time. At first and for a while you don't understand what is going on, later you understand what is going on but you will never know why is happening what is happening. It is like an abstract painting that doesn't have an explanation and doesn't necessarily need to be understood or explained, it is just meant to be looked at, enjoyed and everybody will find a different meaning to what they see. Once you are familiar with the story, the second time you watch it you will just enjoy the ride without getting sidetracked trying to figure out what is going on. The movie is indeed slow paced, sometimes there aren't any dialogs at all for long periods of time but it is visually gorgeous, even when apparently there isn't any beauty. It is very well made and has magnificent performances. Whether you love it or you hate it, "Holy Motors" is a film that will stay in your mind, scrambling your brain. Although the story and the pace turned out to be completely the opposite of what I was expecting from the trailer, I really enjoyed it very much when I watched it. I have only watched it once so far and I cannot take it out of my mind, instead it still keeps growing on me every time I think about it. I eventually would love to own it to watch it over and over!!!