Holy Motors ★★★

Siding mostly with those saying Carax seems to have conceived a bunch of unrelated shorts he couldn't be bothered to meaningfully sequence, then left it up to viewers to impose a coherent narrative. I'm no literalism fascist, and an overwhelming degree of ambiguity in intent is fine by me, but the absence of a larger hypnotic effect forced me to wonder what, if anything, Carax might be getting at.

His mother is American, and he reportedly speaks perfect English; American music is one of Carax's inspirations. But one of the dumbest sequences has Denis Lavant (as Tokyo!'s "Monsieur Merde") kidnapping model Eva Mendes as her idiotic American fashion photographer keeps snapping photos: "Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!" he hyperventilates at Mendes alone, then "Weird! Weird! Weird!" as Lavant kidnaps her. Silly Americans, unable to perceive that beauty and weirdness can be one and the same! (Cue prosthetic dick.)

My favorite sequence comes early: motion capture animation as live-action Tron, with bodysuited people in lights abstractly tussling with each other. Almost certainly I didn't get all the intertextual frissons: didn't realize (it's been while since I read it) that the hotel scene is from Portrait Of A Lady, and just now Googling I see that the Sparks song Lavant listens to on the way to picking up his "daughter" is the incestuously appropriate "How Are You Getting Home"? ("We've got one thing in common baby/We're too good to be at this party") The more citations I acquire, the less I care. This feels like a private joke — nicely shot to be sure, with cinephilic allusions for a pre-self-selected audience to enjoy, and pretty funny — but I can't summon up the leap of faith to assume Carax's eluded me. I think he's bluffing.