a director with only five full features sustain a documentary and a
retrospective? In this case, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors alone should provide ample fodder for weeks of analysis. Yet, Carax
himself remains a cipher, despite the efforts of Tessa Louise-Salomé to
illuminate the mystery man and his films in Mr.
X: a Vision of Leos Carax (trailer here), which opens this Friday at Film Forum as
part of their Carax series now underway.
sort of name is Leos Carax? “A real assumed” one he responds, when asked.
Perhaps that is somewhat clarifying (it also happens to be an anagram of “Oscar”
and “Alex”). The rest of his biography remains quite murky and that is not due
to any clerical oversight on his part. Clearly, Louise- Salomé tries to
capitalize on the intrigue of Carax’s mystique, but she never scores a meaningful
peak behind the mask. Instead, Mr. X steadily
morphs into a critical appreciation of the filmmaker’s small but rich body of
work, led by his longtime champion, Richard Brody of The New Yorker.
least, Louise-Salomé maintains a Caraxian vibe, filming her talking heads amid
evocative shadows and the flickering images of Carax’s films. Even Japanese filmmaker
Kiyoshi Kurosawa and actor Denis Lavant (widely considered Carax’s on-screen
alter-ego) submit to her human movie screen treatment, but not the man himself,
who is present solely via prior canned voiceovers.
looking for tangible dish will be disappointed, but the initiated should enjoy
seeing the cult auteur’s cult auteur get his cinematic laurels. Arguably, the
most intriguing sequences involve his near Waterloo, the dramatically
over-budget Les Amants du Pont-Neuf,
but all his features are revisited at length, along with Merde, Carax’s contribution to the anthology film Tokyo!, whose title character he would
memorably revisit in Holy Motors (or Holy Moly Motors as some call it).
gee-whiz enthusiasm for Carax shared by Louise- Salomé and her interview
subjects (including Harmony Korine, Kylie Minogue, and Cannes Festival president
Gilles Jacob) is appealing and Kaname Onoyama’s stylish cinematographer rather
befits the subject. However, Mr. X never
transcends its fannish devotion. Recommended mostly for the faithful binging on
Carax, Mr. X: a Vision of Leos Carax opens
this Friday (8/15), in conjunction with the Film Forum’s Carax retrospective.
Labels: Documentary, French Cinema, Leos Carax