Holy Motors

discs simple life

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. A Simple Life Roger (Andy Lau) is a movie producer who returns home to find that the woman (Deanie Ip) who worked as his family’s maid since he was a child has suffered a stroke. He decides to set aside his affairs and focus on helping her, but as he struggles to manage the role of caregiver she finds it difficult to be the one being cared for. Lau is an international star known more for action films and rom-coms, but he does a fantastic job with the drama here. The real draw though is Ip who manages to deliver a character earns our respect, makes us laugh and breaks our hearts in equal measure. It’s an incredibly sweet film about finding the best in each other and ourselves, and it wisely avoids melodrama in exchange for more time spent developing characters and warm exchanges. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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Culture Warrior on 2012

In this end-of-year editorial, Landon Palmer discusses the pattern that movies demonstrated in 2012 for telling stories through protagonists defined by their various personality traits rather than through conventional, straightforward characters. In so doing, movies this year showed how our individual identities have become divided within various aspects of modern social life. This trend made some of the year’s movies incredibly interesting, while others suffered from a personality disorder. Landon argues that movies ranging from The Hunger Games to The Dark Knight Rises to Holy Motors alongside cultural events and institutions like the Presidential election, social media, and “Gangnam Style” all contributed to a year in which popular culture is finally became open about its constant engagement with multiple cults of personality. Six years ago, Time magazine famously named its eagerly anticipated “Person of the Year” You in big, bold letters. Its cover even featured a mirror. As a result of the established popularity of supposedly democratized media outlets like Facebook and the home of the cover’s proverbial “You,” YouTube, Time declared 2006 as the year in which the masses were equipped with the ability to empower themselves for public expressions of individual identity. More than a half decade later, social media is no longer something new to adjust to, but a norm of living with access to technology. Supposing that Time’s prophecy proved largely correct, what does it mean to live in a 21st century where we each have perpetual access to refracting our respective mirrors?

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Movie Scene of 2012

Whether you loved it, hated it, or were scratching your head all the way through, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors is a memorable film. This disjointed, manic work is one of the most original and boundary-pushing movies of the year, avoiding anything resembling narrative coherence and conventional character development. It also features an amazing lead performance by Denis Lavant as a huge cast of unusual characters. While many moments in the film stand out – the motion capture sex scene, Eva Mendes’s abduction by Lavant’s sewer-dwelling goblin, Kylie Minogue’s touch of tragedy through song – perhaps the film’s most exhilarating moment was its musical intermission, in which Lavant leads a band through an old cathedral where they collectively rock out with their accordions out. Even amongst the FSR staff who weren’t as taken by this film as I was (his name rhymes with Rob Hunter), we mostly agreed that this scene stands out, even in a film (and a year of films) with many great scenes to choose from.

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Kicking off this week with its Opening Night Gala for Hitchcock, Hollywood’s own AFI FEST effectively wraps up the year’s film festival-going season (a season that lasts approximately eleven months). Such calendar placement means that AFI FEST comes late enough in the year to serve as a last hurrah for titles that have been playing the festival circuit as far back as January (at Sundance) or as far away as France, Berlin, and Venice, and is the perfect opportunity for Southern California-based film geeks (or those willing to put some miles on their passport) to catch up on films they’ve been anticipating for months. Of course, of the 136 films playing at this year’s festival, we’ve managed to catch nearly a fifth of them at other fests, and we’re quite pleased to use this opportunity to remind you as such. Confused over what to see at the festival? Be confused no more! After the break, jog your memories of our always-extensive festival coverage with reviews for twenty-eight films set to play at this week’s AFI FEST that we’ve already seen (and, you know, reviewed). It’s like getting your festival coverage whole days early!

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As 2012 begins to wind down, your trusty LA Rejects, Kate Erbland and myself, plan to take on one final film festival – Los Angeles’ AFI FEST. AFI FEST differs from June’s Los Angeles Film Festival as the cooler temperatures (cool, not cold, I know it’s LA) of November seem to bring out slightly heavier fare. Plus, AFI FEST is located in the heart of Hollywood with many screenings taking place at the historic Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian Theaters, giving further weight and importance to the selections shown during the festival. This year, AFI FEST brings us some of the year’s most talked-about films while also getting in a few last world premieres. The festival boasts an impressive list of titles on its roster, but we have rounded up the six must-see films that should be on the radar (and schedules) of all festival attendees. And for those who cannot attend, make note to track these films down when they come to you. AFI FEST runs from November 1st until November 8th.

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Holy Motors

Have you spent the past month or so hearing whispers about some movie called Holy Motors, and how someone you know has seen it at this festival or that, and how it’s probably the most amazing movie of all time, but you still haven’t really gotten a good idea of what it is or what it’s about? Then you’re in luck, because a trailer promoting the film’s U.S. release has just hit the net, and now we can all get a glimpse of what festival goers have been raving about. The latest film from French writer/director Leos Carax, Holy Motors is said to be about a day in the life of a character named Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a mysterious figure who is able to jump from one life to the next. That’s the gist of the official synopsis, at least. But it only takes a couple seconds of getting into this trailer to realize that Holy Motors is the sort of abstract, fantastical film that refuses to be adequately summed up with a synopsis.

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“In a perfect world, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ would be a lock for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.” – Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit It must be frustrating to write for an awards blog (aka an Oscar blog, since the Academy Awards are always the main focus of these sites), and know that the best films of the year are not necessarily the ones that will be nominated. Magidson’s comment above, from his April review of The Cabin in the Woods, sort of sums that up. But at the same time I don’t know if the movie truly deserves the statement. Something to consider, semantically speaking, is that the Academy’s award is not for “Most Original Screenplay” but “Best Original Screenplay.” This isn’t to say that the script, by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, isn’t well-written, and you’re welcome to argue its case for a nomination. Is it the best-written original screenplay of the year, though? All my time as a movie lover and watcher of the Oscars, including the past few years of hate-watching, the original screenplay category is one I’ve constantly been excited about. It’s the place where you could find some of the more clever and creative efforts, including a number of films that might not get other nominations. You could find a good number of interesting foreign films outside of the foreign-language award ghetto (such as Bunuel‘s two nominations for writing), as well as an interesting showing of mainstream and blockbuster fare, especially in the […]

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There is a theory that Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is structured, quite schematically, like Dante’s Inferno. The idea is that this three hour film can be broken down into nine significant episodes, one for each of the layers of Hell. It doesn’t really work without ignoring some sequences and fudging the math, but no matter. Complicated and almost conspiratorial interpretations of movies will always abound; one need look no further than Shining conspiracy documentary Room 237, also playing this installment of the New York Film Festival. Yet sometimes a movie comes along that seems to dare the audience to come up with intricate analyses, to start cranking away even before the credits have rolled. Intentionally or otherwise, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors is one of those challenges.

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

You may not want to see Taken 2 (it’s really quite terrible), but you hopefully want to take two on the week, as in revisit our last seven days of content to make sure you didn’t miss anything. It’s been another full session, as we closed out our Fantastic Fest coverage and dug deeper into the New York Film Festival with reviews and features courtesy of our incredibly smart guest contributors Caitlin Hughes and Daniel Walber along with the always excellent Jack Giroux. Speaking of reviews, in addition to that deservedly negative take on the Taken sequel, we republished fest responses to Frankenweenie, The House I Live In, Butter and V/H/S. Interviews this week included Hotel Transylvania director Genndy Tartakovsky and The Paperboy director Lee Daniels. Visit the trailers tag for first looks at the latest Die Hard, the next Lars von Trier and Rob Zombie films, Lone Ranger and a porn star documentary. And, as always, keep track of our daily short film showcase, TV coverage and other favorite columns via their respective buttons around the main page. Bookmark where you will. In addition to all that, you can check out our ten best features from the past week plus some other recommended reading after the break.

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The Best of Fantastic Fest

It’s not hard to see that Fantastic Fest has come and gone for another year. If many a film fan could find a way to “wear black” on Twitter, they’d do so in mourning of the end of another great year of hardcore geekery. It was a diverse year for the Fantastic Fest programming team, bringing in equal numbers the intense, the gross, the violent, the real and the fun. On the whole, a truly “fantastic” experience for all involved. As we’ve done each year past, it is time for our Fantastic Fest Death Squad to round-up the festival and give you some parting thoughts. Most importantly, we’d like to leave you with a number of films that should occupy space on your horizon, films you should seek out when they finally get distributed in your region. To do this, each member of our coverage team has provided a recap of their experience and their three “Best of the Fest.” On the next page, you’ll find everyone’s nominations for the 2012 Death Squad Awards, highlighting the best films of each of Fantastic Fest’s competition categories.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

As was also the case with the previous seven Fantastic Fests, I wish I had more time to see more films at Fantastic Fest 2012. That’s the bad part about having an all-consuming day job, it prohibits me from going totally hog wild at local film festivals. Sure, said job pays my mortgage, but I am really pissed off that it prohibited me from witnessing Joe Swanberg knocking out Devin Faraci at the Fantastic Debates. The previous night at the Chaos Reigns Karaoke Party, I did catch Swanberg perform Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones” (which, I should note, is one of my least favorite songs of all time) which was followed closely by Swanberg’s boxing coach Ti West performance of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” — though, I have got to say that the karaoke performance of the evening goes to Tim League‘s krautrock interpretation of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow.” Sadly, though, that is the only Fantastic Fest event that I was able to attend. Yes, I even had to miss the Red Dawn-themed closing night party! Of course my liver has been continuously thanking me for not destroying it, but my liver clearly does not understand that half the fun of Fantastic Fest is waking up each morning with a massive hangover. Just you wait until next year, liver! You will suffer the alcohol-fueled wrath of Fantastic Fest!

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It has been a real treat, hanging out with you all here on Film School Rejects this week, but today I head back home to CriterionCast.com. I won’t be leaving you empty handed, as there have been some excellent links, images and clips going around today that you all should certainly check out.

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Holy Motors

Four years ago avant garde filmmaker Leos Carax contributed his unique storytelling to the anthology picture Tokyo! and told of a strange, seemingly mythical-esque humanoid resembling that of a leprechaun just released from an extended stay in solitary confinement at Shawshank. Rising from random manholes and fixated up to hovering crows he proceeds to walk confidently through the streets of Tokyo, grabbing everything that can be bitten into and trotting over patrons because they were unfortunately on his way to the next manhole he wished to crawl back into. If Godzilla were a 5’4” red-head he’d act a lot like this. This character again appears in Carax’s new picture Holy Motors, only the creature doesn’t torture the patrons of Tokyo he appears on the streets of London; and just before he kidnaps Eva Mendes to take her down with him into the sewers and treat her like a lady (minus licking her armpit with a blood-stained tongue and eating her hair; but what gentleman wouldn’t do that?) he performs some highly acrobatic motion-capture for game developers only just after he turned himself into an old hunchbacked homeless woman asking for change on the side of the road. He does something else before that as well. He also does many things after as many different personalities.

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Fantastic Fest 2012

As you well know, Fantastic Fest is the one. There are plenty of fine film festivals that take place in many fine locations around the globe. They all show movies, many of which end up on our top ten lists at the end of the year. But no matter what any of those TIFFs and Cannes-fests have, they don’t exactly measure up to the pure, blood-filled experiential goodness that is Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. For a fair number of us, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Great friends come into town, great BBQ is consumed by the pound, and a number of carefully programmed movies are displayed just for us on the screens of the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s high praise, sure. But as anyone who has actually attended the festival might tell you, it’s perfectly spot on. Our goal for this year’s coverage – this being our fifth consecutive year covering as a site – is to bring you even closer to the experience that is Fantastic Fest than ever before. We won’t just be filing reviews for the big movies like Dredd 3D and Looper, we’ll be providing looks at every single feature film playing this year’s festival. We’ll have spotlights on filmmakers you should keep an eye on. We’ll show you what it’s like to attend Fantastic Fest. We’ve got a crack staff in place, the one we call the The Fantastic Fest Death Squad. Joining veterans Rob Hunter, Brian Salisbury, Luke Mullen, and Adam Charles are […]

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Fantastic Fest 2012 Poster

The second wave of Fantastic Fest films is incredibly irritating. Why? Because alongside the first wave of titles, it represents the best line up in the festival’s history, and I won’t be there for the first time in years. Have no fear, because we’ll have plenty of Rejects on the ground covering every inch of film, but I will be twiddling my thumbs at home wishing I was getting drunk off of a third Guinness milkshake and watching weird movies. Looper is absolutely at the pinnacle here when it comes to anticipation, but there’s also the Cannes freak-out Holy Motors and Sinister, the newest film from Exorcism of Emily Rose director Scott Derrickson. Plus, the Fantastic Fest faithful can see a follow-up to New Kids Turbo and the ambitious horror short anthology The ABCs of Death, birthed outside of a dumpster right behind the Alamo Drafthouse. There’s also a healthy amount of filmmakers in attendance and probably some crazy surprises and why not just check out the whole obnoxiously good list yourself?

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Last year, I kicked off the FSR Cannes Awards by taking the opportunity to give three awards to The Artist (three of the Oscars it won actually, if you’re interested in just how much of a boss I am), and though there isn’t quite the same standout type of film at this year’s festival, there were some notable highlights. The rain was not one of them. This year, I saw 21 of the hundreds of films available to see, so these awards obviously only take in those that I deemed worthy of my attention (or which were possible to see given the intense mathematical equations required to see everything and write reviews of them all in timely enough fashion that all of the key information doesn’t bugger off out of your head). Here are my own highlights of the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival:

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The Paperboy John Cusack

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival featured this year’s Oscar winning Best Actor performance thanks to the inclusion of the wonderful The Artist in competition, and though the films seem to have been chosen for their artistry and provocative subtexts more than any really commercial pointers (as always happens the year after the festival is deemed “too commercial”), there have been some seriously fine performances this year as well. There wasn’t an Uggy this year, but there was a murdered pooch in Moonrise Kingdom, a bitey Killer Whale in Rust & Bone, and a striking performance from an armadillo in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, so we’ll have to wait and see who emerges with the best animal performance. Probably won’t come from Madagascar 3 though…so for the time being, let’s stick to the humans.

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Holy Motors Movie Leos Carax

The question is, do you open the sack? Simon’s review from Cannes praises the positive brand of bat-shit insanity that Leos Carax‘s latest flick, Holy Motors, has going for it: “Really, the film is no more than a Kafkaesque short story idea, stretched out into a high-high-concept film that is baffling, infuriating and brilliant in equal measure. It will undoubtedly pick up five star reviews, and the only restraint on this review comes from my own refusal to cast off the conventional entertainment gauge: it’s hard to imagine anyone enjoying their popcorn when confronted with a naked man with an erection eating Eva Mendes‘s hair.” The trailer has a violent tone to it, a dangerous smoke that lingers, something felt but not always seen. There is an angry potential to it (hence the cat simile). Essentially, it feels like the kind of movie that dares you to see it. Check out the trailer for yourself, and get ready to scratch your head:

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Holy Motors Leos Carax

Cannes films have a tendency to provoke reaction, with selections chosen for their impact more often than any conventionally commercial appeal, and as a result, responses from those who attend tend to polarize. In that context, it is no surprise that Leos Carax‘s weird and wonderful Holy Motors was chosen to screen In Competition, judging by the number of walk-outs and the final standing ovation. The film follows Mr. Oscar (Denis Lavant), an inexplicable figure who is driven around Paris in a stretch limousine by his chauffeur Celine (Edith Scob), fulfilling “assignments” around the city. The angle is that Mr. Oscar is an actor, and his assignments are characters, each requiring precise and preposterous costumes as he seeks the ultimate performance, in front of invisible characters for an unknown audience. As the film progresses, Mr. Oscar advances through his list of jobs – an old beggar woman, an assassin, a businessman, a father, a dying old man, a deranged, violent monster who eats flowers and kidnaps supermodels – committing himself entirely to the art of character. We are never afforded an insight to who he really is, how he came to be, or even whether there is any reality in any of the situations at all.

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After literally days of rampant speculation and fanciful rumor-spreading (on my part), this year’s official line-up for the Cannes 2012 Film Festival has officially been unveiled by officials in the South of France. Officially. Unsurprisingly, and as predicted, my own 13 film wishlist was largely completely wrong – but I did predict a massive four (including the absence, thankfully, of Terrence Malick), and in my defense, Michael Haneke’s Love was the 14th film on my list until I decided to oust it for timing reasons. Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson and Tom Hardy will battle each other as Killing Them Softly (the awfully renamed adaptation of Cogan’s Trade), Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and the other needlessly renamed flick, Lawless (why not just keep it as The Wettest County?) compete for the Palme d’Or.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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