Monday, October 10, 2011


-Interviewer: Its been 8 years since 'Les Amants Du Pont Neuf'. Where did you go?
-Leos Carax: ...To Hell

While I was in Toronto for the film festival (make sure to read my reviews from TIFF), I picked up some books from the gift shop on Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis & Leos Carax. I breezed through the Claire Denis book because i already knew 50% of the content and now I'm in the middle of (slowly) reading the book on Leos Carax which inspired me to do one of these explorations on him. This one was a bit difficult to do because, like Todd Haynes, even though Carax's career spans over 3 decades he only has 4 features, one joint movie ('Tokyo') and a few random shorts to show for. Nevertheless, all of his films share common themes and feature some very memorable images (that you will see have inspired everyone from James Cameron to Johnathan Glazer...whether they want to admit it or not!). Hope you all enjoy. I tried my best not to make this too much of a repeat of my lastLeos Carax blog entry...

Carax, who use to write for the iconic french magazine; 'Cahiers Du Cinema' (where future directors like Jean Luc Godard, Francois Truffout and Eric Rohmer use to write for), always makes sure to acknowledge the era of french cinema that inspired his work with the somewhat stereotypical black screen & big bold white titles. Even though Carax's work is modern, the opening and closing titles from his films look like they're out of the 1960's...
Leos Carax (1984)
Jean Luc Godard (1960)
Carax (1991)
Jean Pierre Melville (1970)
Carax (1986)
Melville (1972)

Carax (1999)
Robert Bresson (1959)

Boy Meets Girl/Band Of Outsiders (Godard)
Holy Motors/Eyes Without A Face (Georges Franju)
Boy Meets Girl/A Woman Is A Woman (Godard)
Holy Motors/Friday Night (Claire Denis)

Outside of the recurring character "Alex" (who we'll get to later), romantic relationships are the most commonly explored theme in Carax's work. In every one of his films we see one of our main female characters dumped for another woman, which usually leads them down a dark and destructive path (like "Mirielle" in 'Boy Meets Girl' and "Michele" in 'The Lovers On The Bridge'). And even though Carax often explores the dark side of romance, he still creates many memorable, intimate and "cute" moments...
Mirieille holding back tears after her boyfriend breaks up with her at the beginning of 'Boy Meets Girl'
Alex watches 2 lovers enviously in 'Boy Meets Girl'

Alex breaks up with his girlfriend in 'Bad Blood'
Michele gets revenge on her lover who left her in 'The Lovers On The Bridge'
a cute moment in 'Bad Blood'
'Bad Blood'
'The Lovers On The Bridge'
'Pola X'

Music is KEY in his films. This sounds like a generic statement that could be made for any director, but Carax always makes it a point to create a pivotal sequence set to everything from David Bowie (who he's used in 2 different films) to Public Enemy. The music is always relevant to how the character feels. He doesn't just throw in a hip song for the sake of it like so many other directors do. In 'Bad Blood' when Alex realizes he's in love with Anna, he dances through the streets to express his emotions. In 'Boy Meets Girl', Mirielle tap dances in order to put herself in a good mood after her boyfriend just dumped her and so on...
David Bowie sequence in 'Boy Meets Girl'
Alex dances to David Bowie in 'Bad Blood'
Michele dances in the streets in 'The Lovers On The Bridge'
Band rehearsal in 'Pola X'
Music break in Holy Motors

Most great directors have their regular set of actors or that one actor or actress they always use. Scorsese has Deniro, Herzog had Kinski, Denis has Alex Descas, Cassavetes had his gang of actors etc. But with the exception of 'Pola X', Denis Lavant, who's kind of like an alter-ego of Carax on screen, has been in every film directed by Leos Carax. The 2 are pretty much synonymous with each other, much like how Kurosawa was with Mifune (although their body of work is much larger than Carax & Lavant, but still...). Outside of a small handful of directors, no one has used Denis Lavant to his full potential like Carax has (his amazing physical ability, his humor and his overall acting ability). I don't want to repeat myself too much in this blog, so please read my previous entry on Carax & Lavant...
'Boy Meets Girl'
'Bad Blood'
'The Lovers On The Bridge'
Holy Motors

The Lovers On The Bridge/Mulholland Drive (David Lynch
Sometimes you don't realize how influential a film is. 'The Lovers On The Bridge', which was made in 1991 but didn't reach U.S. audiences until almost a decade later, is one of the most quietly influential films. No one seems to ever talk about it, but Lovers has inspired some famous shots from some of the biggest recent movies ('Titanic') and popular music videos ('Rabbit In Your Headlights'). Whats also interesting is that directors like Johnathan Glazer and Claire Denis, who have been influenced by certain aspects of Carax & Lavant's work together, actually use Denis Lavant himself to recreate scenes and shots he was originally in...

Lavant in rear view mirror shot from
'the lover on the bridge' (1991)

Lavant in rear view mirror shot from
'rabbit in your headlights' (1998)

lavant in 'the lovers on the bridge'

lavant in 'rabbit in your headlight'

'The Lovers On The Bridge'

'Rabbit In Your Headlights'

'the lover on the bridge' ending (1991)

iconic shot from 'Titanic' (1997)

Denis Lavant caught in drivers
headlights ('lovers on the bridge')

Denis Lavant caught in drivers
headlights in 'beau travail' (1999)

Juliette Binoche in 'Bad Blood' (1986)

'Amelie' (2001)

skydiving scene in
'Bad Blood'

skydiving scene in 'Mister Lonely',
co-starring Leos Carax (2008)

Even though romance is a common theme with Carax, almost all of his films end with someone dying or some tragedy. Oh shit, wait *SPOILER ALERT*
'Boy Meets Girl'

'Bad Blood'

'Pola X'


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