Cannes Report - Holy Motors, Paperboy and Rust & Bone

By Moira Sullivan
Denis Lavant and Kylie Minogue

Holy Motors, a film presented in the official selection yesterday at Cannes, is probably in a class of its own and has caused a lot of discussion.  It does need to be discussed, however, and maybe it is the best thing to happen to the Cannes Film Festival competition this year. It is beyond the character-driven narratives of the official selection and is a cinematic rarity.

Leos Carax' dystopia set in Paris is about a man whose job is assuming many identities and playing many roles each day. In the morning, Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a middle aged businessman, is picked up in a stretch limo. He leaves a beautiful mansion and is chauffeured by Céline (Eva Scob) all day. On his seat is a notebook with his first job. Some of the assignments include going to the Père-Lachaise cemetery where there is a photo shoot of a beautiful model (played by Eva Mendes). Monsieur Oscar now wears a red wig and has one false eye and grotesque fingernails. He is barefoot and walks with a cane. The photographer is so taken by the man that he asks to photograph him along site “Beauty”, as "the Beast".  He bites the fingers of the photographer's assistant and kidnaps "Beauty". Then he takes her underground where he dresses her in a burka. She does not protest, and he lays his head on her lap.

Monsieur Oscar is also a father with a daughter who he picks up from a party where she has hidden in the bathroom, a murderer who kills someone who looks like him in a garage, and an old man taking his last breath. Some of the scenes are so exquisitely composed that they are mind-boggling. Many parts of Paris such as Père Lachaise are the sites for various assignments, and symbolize different epochs of architecture such as the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and tract homes outside Paris.

The film clearly is an affront to motion capture cinematography with Monsieur Oscar in yet another identity dressed in a suit with dots enacting scenes that will later be made into video games and virtual reality. Leos Carax seems quite indifferent to this change in filmmaking. Kylie Minogue plays a woman who has the same job as Monsieur Oscar. They have only 20 minutes together and she sings a morose song.

Mr. Carax has made a visually stunning film with foreboding messages. The film is entirely subjective, but in French “motor” means “action” on a shoot. The entire film thus is a shoot with different sets.  Here, in this two - hour film, we witness the death of cinema, the death of pop culture, the death of industrialism, and the death of gender and the death of identity.  Because of its artistic content it will probably not open at a cineplex in San Francisco anytime soon, but is a feast for cineastes who want an experience and to assemble meaning in film rather than having it already prepared.
The critical response to the film was below average, as was expected. It opens in France on the French national holiday, Bastille Day, July 4th.

Lee Daniels
Near the end of the Cannes film Festival comes a film that just blows it all in a new direction, clearly the most visceral and well sculpted  film for that. Every shot is exquisitely executed and some of the montage sequences recall the principles of Eisenstein for the creation of pathos. "Paperboy" is a critty narrative, shocking in parts some of which are even repugnant. Seldom has such realistic stuff been arranged in a film. This film has it all: casting (Lea Daniels Butler), script, editing and cinematography.  Based on a novel by Peter Dexer.

Oscar winner Marion Cottilard plays a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in a water show in Jack Audiard's Rust & Bone.  The title means the particular taste of blood in one's mouth after taking a dunk on the head. And Cottilard's boyfriend played by Matthias Schoenaerts takes a lot of hits to the skull. The film is stunningly beautiful with excellent acting, editing by Juliette Welfling (The Hunger Games, A Prophet) and cinematography by Stéphane Fountaine (The Prophet). It is on the short list for one of the best films in the "Official Selection".

© 2012 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 05/23/12
Movie Magazine International