Saturday, August 21, 2021


Much like the term; “Lynchian”, the word pretentious has been thrown around so much in film criticism that it means almost nothing now. I feel like a fraud using it to describe Annette but pretentious is the first thing that comes to mind. And what’s funny is I’m willing to bet there’s someone out there right now using “Lynchian” as a way to describe Leos Carax’s latest film in the most sincere way possible. 

Did Holy Motors go to Leos Carax’s head? I understand that Annette is supposed to be absurd, cynical & satirical. But putting all that aside for a moment - it’s like Carax’s latest feature is a combination of cutting room floor scenes from Holy Motors (that should’ve remained on the cutting room floor), mixed with ridiculous ideas that should’ve just stayed inside the director’s head (it’s nice to dream big but not everything needs to be a reality). And the biggest kicker is there’s no Denis Lavant (that sounds like a silly nitpicky criticism but I’ll get to why that’s important later). Annette isn’t all bad. But at the end of the day it’s a disappointment. This is the kind of movie letterboxd open mic stand-up comedian critics dream off. And that’s part of the problem. I know it wasn’t intentional but Annette comes off like a movie that was made for movie people on twitter & letterboxd who are more interested in memeifying actors, making quirky puns and getting off witty one-liners instead of expressing genuine thoughts & opinions. 
Think I’m wrong? Let’s look at what some of these bootleg Steven Wright imitators have to say about Annette (note the first borderline Lynchian label at the top)...

This is what I’m talking about. How many modern actors (outside of Al Pacino or Adam Sandler) are as memefied as Adam Driver is right now? How often do you scroll some platform on the internet and see that image of Adam Driver punching the wall in A Marriage Story? I think stuff like that hurts an actor’s legacy & legitimacy to some degree. Even on the smallest scale. I think a lot of that subconscious stuff is carried over in to Annette unfortunately (and it’s not Adam Driver’s fault either). This is just the current state of things.

I remember when Annette screened at Cannes a few months ago and all anyone had to talk/tweet about was a “tOtAlLy InSaNe” musical number that incorporated cunnilingus. Now that I’ve seen this so-called infamous scene I ask you all; “what was the big deal?” But again - this is what I’m talking about - Adam Driver? Cunnilingus? Musical? Let me get out my meme template!
It’s funny because Annette does address bullshit like this (people laughing at things that aren’t that funny or making a big deal out of nothing). That is one of the few good qualities about this movie. Unfortunately there just aren’t that many.

In addition to referencing and downright recreating shots from his previous films...

Holy Motors /

Holy Motors /

Holy Motors /

Bad Blood /

there’s lots of Pinocchio homages throughout…

Pinocchio / Annette

Pinocchio / Annette

Pinocchio / Annette

And I could be reaching but there also appears to be a reference to Carax's mentor/hero Jean Luc Godard...

Sympathy For The Devil /

and I know they aren't shot identically, the finale of Annette is very similar to Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle 1...

Cremaster 1 / Annette

I try to stray away from negative reviews on here but Leos Carax is a PINNLAND EMPIRE favorite and I’m not a fake fan. I feel like I owe one of my favorite filmmakers genuine criticism over fake praise.
Going back to the Holy Motors comment I made - Annette really does reevaluate/re-examine what Carax explored back in 2012. The absurdity & pointlessness of being a celebrity (and the weird fetishization that comes along with it), the craziness of show business, exploitation, anger, rage, etc. The seeds were planted almost a decade ago. Holy Motors has a few musical numbers and Annette has more. Holy Motors touches on the sometimes pointlessness of repetition, and Annette takes that even further with it's dialogue & musical numbers. Even the color palette of Annette (which highlights the color green) is like Holy Motors turned up even more.
I have no problem with Leos Carax exploring the same subject matter over & over. With the exception of Pola X, every one of his movies is essentially a continuation of the previous one. It speaks volumes that the only two feature films without Carax’s regular collaborator; Denis Lavant sticks out a bit (Pola X is at least very good tho). I think that’s another reason that Annette falls short. It’s not just because Lavant is absent from the film. It’s because Adam Driver is playing a role that Lavant usually plays so well and Driver is not a good “replacement”. Lavant is Carax’s onscreen persona/alter-ego. It’s clear to me that Adam Driver’s tortured artist character in Annette is supposed to be Carax on some level. I just don’t buy Adam Driver as Carax like I do Lavant.

I can see how my criticism feels a little unfair so I urge you all to watch this (on Amazon prime) to come to your own conclusion. I do respect the ambition to shoot for the moon. It just missed it’s mark as far as I’m concerned.

Sunday, August 1, 2021


I went in to this one mostly blind with an insane amount of excited skepticism after hearing it described as a; “lo-fi Brooklyn version of Inland Empire”. Not in recent times has a blurb about a movie made me simultaneously raise my eyebrows in genuine curiosity (the comparison to Inland Empire) and role my eyes to the back of my head due to the potential pretentiousness of it all (the “lo-fi Brooklyn” portion of the blurb). It’s best to ignore the “lo-fi Brooklyn” portion of the description (just say low budget) and focus on the Inland Empire part. I completely get where the Brooklyn “thing” comes from but these days the Brooklyn description is based off of so many things that have absolutely nothing to do with Brooklyn. Just out of town Brooklyn transplants who have hi-jacked what it means to be “Brooklyn” (as broad as that term may be).
And now apparently these transplants have gentrified criticism as well. 
There’s even some quick commentary on the current state of Brooklyn in Slow Machine:

Christ! What is Brooklyn anymore? Brooklyn is a white toddler in a RUN-DMC shirt!

Anyway, Slow Machine is certainly worthy of a comparison to Lynch’s flawed & disastrous masterpiece, but if we’re being real - it’s roots go all the way back to Persona (where things like Inland Empire, Mulholland Drive & Lost Highway all came from to some degree).

Some scenes are almost set-up like reinterpreted/reworked scenes from Persona in an abstract kind of way.

From super obvious moments…

Persona /
Slow Machine

To maybe not so obvious moments…

Persona /
Slow Machine

Slow Machine is a psychological thriller/disoriented fever dream about an actress in the midst of a mental crisis/psychological break. I’ve oversimplified the film quite a bit but I don’t want to give everything away (the film, which takes us from New York City to hiding out in Upstate New York, has many twists & turns ranging from counter-terrorism to awkward sexual advances & assault all in just over 70 minutes).

But as far as the basic plot goes - it sounds like Persona, right? The same could be said about everything from the aforementioned unofficial David Lynch trilogy to more recent Persona-sploitation stuff like Always Shine & Woodshock. There’s a very meta scene midway in to Slow Machine that comes right out of Always Shine (and real life) where our actress characters are awkwardly interrupted for a selfie…
Always Shine /
Slow Machine

These moments are interesting as I’m sure this is something Chloe Sevigny (bottom) deals with all the time. As far as Mackenzie Davis (top) this is something she probably deals with now having starred in films from the Terminator & Bladerunner franchises. But at the time Always Shine was made, she was a relatively smaller/up & coming actress.

To be honest, there isn’t anything very original I have to say about this that I haven’t already said about other films in this genre (read my thoughts about Always Shine, PersonaImages and the David Lynch trilogy on this blog).
I just wanted to drop a few quick words about Slow Machine mostly because it’s the best new movie I’ve seen this year so far.
I will say that one minor/major aspect about the film that really enhances it is the (intentional?) audio mixing. It’s very jarring and off-kiltered which matches the sometimes jarring and off-kiltered tone of the movie itself. There’s almost this intentional disconnect between the audio (the dialogue, the score and the background noise) and the accompanying video.

Watch this movie. There’s no excuse to skip Slow Machine as you can stream it online. After months of watching stuff like Godzilla vs Kong, Nobody, Mortal Kombat, Wrath Of Man, Conjuring 3, etc - this was a pleasant surprise/breath of fresh air.


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