Monday, 16 July 2012

Leos Carax' work in five easy steps

1. The characters in French filmmaker Leos Carax’ early films complain about the heat but look ineffably cool. It’s a look borrowed from across cinema (Melville, Godard, Dreyer, Vigo…), notably for black-and-white debut Boy Meets Girl (1984), which begins with a series of break-ups overtaken by maundering dialogue.

2. Carax favourite Denis Lavant thankfully has less to say in the stand-out, futuristic crime caper Mauvais Sang (The Night is Young, 1986), when he joins Michel Piccoli’s gang, out to steal a vaccine to the ‘STBO retrovirus’.

3. Both films are luminously shot – by Jean-Yves Escoffier (Gummo) – whose final collaboration with Carax is the director’s magnificent folly, Les Amants du Pont Neuf (1991) featuring a hallucinatory affair between homeless Lavant and Juliette Binoche.

4. By the time of Pola X (1999) Carax may be trying to buck his influences much as gilded author Guillaume Depardieu decides to throw off his privileged background. The result, for all concerned, is exceedingly tiresome and deeply unedifying.

5. After a hiatus of 13 years - interrupted only by a short for Tokyo! (2008) - Carax' latest, Holy Motors (pictured top), received its premiere at Cannes earlier this year. The film sees the director tackle his fascination with cinema and reunites him with Lavant and Piccoli, plus Eva Mendes and, erm, Kylie Minogue.

The 65th Festival del film Locarno kicks off on 1 August and features a retrospective dedicated to Leos Carax, who'll be in Switzerland to accept the festival's Pardo d'onore. I'd love to go but will be busy with a thing in London, which may also mean this is my last post for a few weeks.

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