Holy Motors

Holy Motors ★★★★★

Today, on the date of Holy Motors' dvd release, I saw the film again on the big screen at FI:AF. Leos Carax did a post-screening discussion with Richard Brody, The New Yorker film critic.

Carax is a cool guy with a wicked sense of humor. Despite being asked terrible film critic-y questions by Brody, Carax was entertaining to listen to.

One of the highlights of the evening was Carax's story about why he became a filmmaker. He explained that, as a young man, he went to a café to play pinball so he could see a woman whom he was in love with but didn't have the nerve or reason to talk to. Once he mastered the pinball machine, he replaced it with a camera so he could talk to the woman.

Below is a list of some of the topics in the post-screening discussion.

On filmmaking
• Carax's passion for film has its beginnings with loneliness. When he moved to Paris, he knew no one there. He spent a lot of time seeing films--mostly older films. "The cinema is a good place for lonely people." He doesn't see many films these days.
• He said France is a great place for filmmakers, especially first-time filmmakers, because productions are financially supported by the government. Holy Motors was chiefly financed by the French government.
• He has worked with the same people--crew and actors--for 20+ years.
• He hates casting. He believes directors should always know whom they want to play a role before attempting to begin a film project. He claims that casting problems have prevented him from making many films over the years.
• He does not do screen tests or read-throughs.
• He does everything that he asks his actors to do. If he asks them to jump out of an airplane, he does it too.
• He doesn't like digital film. He believes the world discarded film before it should have. He prefers the tones that real film provides. "Digital film makes skin look horrible."
• The thing that helped him transition from film to digital was the death of his DP. Not having that colleague around forced him to change his way of filmmaking.
• His first digital film project was the short "Monsieur Merde" in the 2008 Tokyo! anthology.
• With digital film, he doesn't watch dailies anymore. It allows him to work more quickly and cheaply.

On Denis Lavant
• Carax discovered Denis Lavant paging through files at an unemployment office.
• Lavant's background is in street theater and the circus.
• Carax insists that, despite their long working association, he and Lavant are not friends. They live a block apart from each other in Paris, but they never socialize. "If we see each other on the street, we say hello, but we do not hang out."
• He believes that Lavant can play any role.

On Holy Motors
• Carax considered asking Juliette Binoche to play Jean (the role that Kylie Minogue plays), but he decided it would be too autobiographical. (Carax and Binoche were lovers 20 years ago.)
• He wanted a singer to play Jean because he felt that the character's pain could not be spoken. She could only sing about it.
• He was not familiar with Kylie Minogue's music--except for the song that she did with Nick Cave ("Where the Wild Roses Grow"), which he liked--before Holy Motors. He liked that Minogue was small, so she would match size-wise with Lavant.
• The young girl in the round picture window at the beginning of the film is Carax's daughter, Nastya. (I believe that she's not his biological child, but the child of his girlfriend, Yekaterina Golubeva, who committed suicide. Holy Motors is dedicated to Golubeva.)
• The dog in the first scene with him is his dog Théo. His production company is named after his dog. One of the characters in Holy Motors (the thug) is named Théo.
• Carax invited Edith Scob to play the driver because he owed her a role. She had appeared in his 1991 film The Lovers on the Bridge, but her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. "Only her hair and elbow appear in the film."
• He included the silent, black-and-white clips of bodies in motion in Holy Motors because he believes "Cinema is the human body in motion."
• On one of the themes of Holy Motors, he said, "You get tired of being yourself. You need to reinvent yourself."

The Future
• Carax would like to make an English-language film in America, but not in Hollywood.
• He said that his next project might be a "non-American superhero film."

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