Tag Archives: surrealist

Holy Motors – Review

4 Mar

There are movies that experiment with experimental concepts and surrealist moods, and they succeed wonderfully. Things are often not explained and left to the viewer’s own interpretations. Holy Motors is one of those movies, except I feel like it didn’t quite succeed. This is a beautiful movie to look at and it is wonderfully acted, but I’m missing what all the hype is about. To me this was a pretentious movie that only exists so that director Leos Carax can flex his film making muscle.

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Oscar (Denis Lavant) is a mysterious man. He leaves his home early in the morning and gets into a limousine with his driver Céline (Edith Scob). Céline makes mention of nine appointments that Oscar is going to make by the end of the day. We soon learn that these aren’t average meetings. First, Oscar dresses like an old female beggar and asks for change on a busy street. Then, Oscar dresses up like a crazy vagrant who lives in the sewers and abducts an American model (Eva Mendez). These types of events continue through the rest of the day, sometimes getting violent, but Oscar always seems ok and he is just doing his job.

This is what lies on the surface of Holy Motors. Obviously, there’s a lot this film is trying to say and it gets it across ok enough… I guess. By then end of the movie, I felt no connection to the characters nor was I really interested in the “story” but I did understand what Carax was saying about the evolution of film making and how technology is moving us away from the more personal films of the past. To me, this is sort of a good message but I can’t help finding it pretentious. Is this to say that Carax is the only film maker who still understands the medium? Like I said, he’s flexing his muscle, and his views on film making are spotty and only have some good points.

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Denis Lavant is the best part about this movie, and if it wasn’t for him, I really wouldn’t have any interest at all. This man is incredible, and most of his role require a lot of acrobatics, dancing, and other physically demanding tasks. This is why he is perfect for the role of Oscar. Oscar has to become many different people on this movie, each one of them significantly different from the last, and some of them demanding true dramatic performance. Lavant hits all of these characters on the head, and I would almost recommend Holy Motors solely to see Lavant at work.

Holy Motors really is a beautiful movie and Carax knows how to frame a shot, but that isn’t enough to pull this movie from the mire. I felt so distanced watching this movie because I didn’t connect with anyone or anything. This isn’t supposed to be a character driven movie, but I feel like I should at least feel something. That’s just it though. This movie didn’t make me feel anything. Everything that happens in this movie is artificial, which is kind of the point, but it made me feel like I was watching a movie instead of feeling like I was watching someone’s life play out like a movie.

I have a strange kind of respect for Holy Motors, but that’s not to say I could enjoy this at all. Denis Lavant is amazing, and one scene involving a symphony of accordions is great. The rest of this movie is Leos Carax saying “Look what I can do! Don’t I have so much to say?” It might have been that I didn’t like the distance I felt, or how little is explained. To me, Holy Motors is a cold exercise in surrealism that I just couldn’t get into. I did like seeing Edith Scob don the white mask from Eyes Without a Face, though. It wasn’t necessary, but it was pretty cool.

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Schizopolis – Review

3 Mar

Well… This was probably one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. When I think of Steven Soderbergh, I think of a very talented and versatile director that seems to have the ability to take on any genre, from the complicated comedy of Ocean’s 11, to the intense drama/thriller films of Side Effects and Traffic. But then there’s Schizopolis, a twisted experiment in surrealist comedy that reminds me of something David Lynch would make it he had a much lighter sense of humor. Steven Soderbergh making something like this, though, I never would have expected.

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Fletcher Munson (Steven Soderbergh) is an office employee for the company run by T. Azimuth Schwitters (Mike Malone), the inspirational founder behind a new self help/religion, Eventualism. Fletcher and his wife (Betsy Brantley) have a relationship that can only be described as nonexistent, speaking only in the underlining context of how they really feel. When Munson gets even more distant when he has to write a speech for Schwitters, his wife decides to take her love elsewhere to Munson’s doppelganger, the timid dentist Dr. Korchek (also Steven Soderbergh). Meanwhile, the swinging exterminator, Elmo Oxygen (David Jensen), who spends most of his time bedding the housewives of the houses he sprays is somehow fitting into all of this.

There’s not much I can really say about Schizopolis. It’s something that I never expected out of Steven Soderbergh, but it’s something I would have liked to see more of. It’s non-linear plot line is only the first of the strange things about this movie. There are events of the past that are making their way into the future, nonsensical babbling, and two people who are one and the same without offering any explanation. At the beginning of the movie, a character of Soderbergh announces that if there’s anything that we don’t understand about the movie, it’s our fault and not theirs.

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This is a really funny movie, and a lot of that goes to Steven Soderbergh’s acting. This is the only movie he’s ever acted in, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him in something else. Of course, that probably won’t be happening after he pretty much gave up on movies after the way Hollywood treated his work. This movie feels like something very personal that he wanted to make, and the only reason it ever got made was because he wanted to do it. As silly as it is, Schizopolis does have cool things of communication and lack there of, and of the true work involved just to get through everyday life.

Schizopolis is a movie that makes sense while not making sense at the same time. There are things that are never explained, and then some things that are sort of explained. We aren’t meant to always understand, but to just go along for the ride and you might learn something along the way. Steven Soderbergh has crafter a hilarious experimental comedy that reminded me of Inland Empire if it was even remotely funny. If you love strange movies and don’t mind things that exist just to exist, check out Schizopolis wherever you can find it.