Archive for Denis Lavant

Holy ****!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2013 by dcairns

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We loved HOLY MOTORS, now that we finally caught up with it. I have very little history with M. Carax and will now need to catch up with those I’ve missed. Thankfully, we HAD seen TOKYO! so we’d met M. Merde, which may not help understand anything about his appearance in this film but does allow one to greet him as an old friend. A terrifying old friend who eats flowers and has a dog’s erection.

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Basically, in this film Carax’ main man Denis Lavant drives around in a stretch limo (a Fever Dream Double Feature with Mr. Cronenberg’s COSMOPOLIS is a must!) and assumes various disguises/characterisations. He has a dressing room mirror and a shitload of wigs and noses and stuff in the back. Oh, and Edith Scob from EYES WITHOUT A FACE is his driver. When Lavant dons these costumes he enters storylines which have the appearance of complete reality — he can even die, authentically, in these mini-films (HM is kind of a compendium film but without actual “stories” as such) but always returns to life and his strange “job”.

Some flickering half-light is shed on this by a tense meeting with Michel Piccoli, seemingly an employer, who worries if Lavant’s character fully believes in his work anymore. Lavant admits that things have gotten harder since the cameras became miniaturized to the point of invisibility. So these are films he’s appearing in, and thus the whole thing can be seen as a metaphor for cinema, and for Carax and Lavant’s parallel careers — the explicit references to past Carax movies fit neatly into this context.

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This may also shed some light on the funny and beautiful coda when the limo is retired to a parking garage with dozens of similarly Tex-Avery-elongated counterparts. And the cars have a conversation, their headlamps flickering as they speak. It’s the kind of conversation that occurs in dormitories when a few annoying people aren’t quite ready to sleep. Carax himself is one of the automobile voices.

How this ties in to the main film isn’t exactly clear (nor are Lavant’s domestic arrangements, revealed in his last scene, but they made Fiona howl with astonished laughter) but it helps to realize that Lavant seems to be riffing on the deleted first scene of SUNSET BLVD. Billy Wilder deleted this because audiences laughed as William Holden’s corpse was fitted with a toe-tag, little realizing they were chortling at their own fate, some of them. Deleted along with that moment was a conversation between corpses in the morgue, their sheeted forms lighting up as they speak, echoed the flashing lights of Carax’s serried limos (those blinking lights also remind me of Daleks).

SUNSET BLVD, of course, is also a movie about movies, with an elegiac tone comparable, in a way, to Carax’s.

Paul Duane suggests that Lavant is channeling Lon Chaney in this movie, which I guess is what prompted us to finally watch it. It’s true — the actor creating his own make-ups… Merde’s milky eye echoes a specific effect (achieved with egg skin) produced by Chaney in THE ROAD TO MANDALAY… there’s even a random ape scene, which could be seen as a Tod Browning homage.

Small Frenchmen Are Attacking Tokyo!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on November 16, 2009 by dcairns

A bite-sized morsel from Leos Carax’s episode of TOKYO! — a compendium film that’s better than these things usually are. Denis Lavant on the rampage in the megalopolis, to the tune of the Godzilla theme, makes for arresting entertainment, in a fairly puzzling little film which veers between the hilarious, the sick, and the fairly baffling. The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw was flabbergasted, I seem to recall, having no idea what he was supposed to make of it all (a few weeks ago, he was equally baffled by PONTYPOOL). I’d say it’s a deliberately abrasive piece of nonsense poetry more based on Lavant’s genius as a physical actor than upon any desire to actually make a coherent statement about anything. Although, like the other episodes in the film, Carax’s tale explores the modern, YouTubed world of instantaneous cult celebrity and the increasingly trippy nature of the news.

Elsewhere, Michel Gondry produces his usual twee whimsical guff, which livens up when the heroine turns into a chair, and Joon-Ho Bong gives us maybe the best episode, or most solid, a love story about shut-ins and earth-quakes and pizza delivery and everything we like. But Carax scores highest on indelible moments.

Euphoria #7

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2008 by dcairns

“There are so many bits in ‘Boogie Nights’ that do it for me but

…how about the ‘Modern Love’ bit from ‘Mauvais Sang’?”

This example of Cinema Euphoria comes from Leos Carax’ MAUVAIS SANG and is the suggestion of genius comedy writer Graham Linehan (everybody in the UK knows FATHER TED, and the masses are now catching on to his current hit THE I.T. CROWD, but those of you elsewhere in the world, check ‘em out! T.V. Euphoria awaits.)

I.T. the Terror from Beyond Space

Graham was super enough to plug this blog on his blog, with the result that my stats went through the roof. I hope some of you newbies will stick around and maybe even nominate some euphoric moments of your own.

Anyhow, it’s been generations since I saw Carax’s flick, but nobody who has can forget this delirious moment. Graham wrote:

“I love everything Carax has done with the exception of Pola X (or as I call it, ‘Pola eccch’).

MS is pretentious from time to time but it has moments that just make my heart THUMP inside my chest, Modern Love is just one of many. 

No, my official vote is for when the baby comes round the corner with Alex  in the same film.”

Since I don’t have a copy of the movie here, but some thoughtful person had already posted Modern Love on VousTube, that’s the clip I’ve embedded. Time I resaw this film.

Seeing Denis Lavant move about in a celebratory fashion (to use a phrase from Colin McLaren) will doubtless remind many of you of THIS (which is my addition, not Mr. Linehan’s):

Two-for-one Euphoria at Shadowplay!

Striking how many euphoric movie memories involve various forms of dance, a medium modern filmmakers have tended to either neglect or screw up hideously (Lars Von Trier, I’m talking about YOU), but which, addressed properly and with sensitivity, seems to have the greatest capacity for injecting happiness directly into the viewer’s heart, sort of like Travolta does to Uma in PULP FICTION, but in a more caring way.

Keep ‘em coming!

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