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Monday, 24 September 2012

Fly Australian Airlines to nowhere

This is a Festival review of Holy Motors (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


This is a Festival review of Holy Motors (2012)

* Contains spoilers *

If you want to see Kylie play a cameo as an airline hostess*, you’re clutching at straws, and would be better off queuing for one of her stage-shows than watching Holy Motors** (2012): if you watched the film first, you’d have no desire to hear her version of any other song. The other song was just mawkish dross about time, regret and the past – or was that Kylie’s song instead / as well, and trauma has bereft me of remembering ?

I have Tweeted that Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and Subway (1985) meet in a mortal embrace, and it is a fight that kills off the best of both, leaving a facile scene in a warehouse-sized garage at the end that was apt to make the ritual close of t.v.’s The Waltons seem profound. It did not even visually convince that so many similar vehicles had been assembled, not least since they insisted on drawing attention to their artificiality by flashing their brake-lights.

Could anything worthwhile have preceded such a banal ending, little better than imputing significance to the fact that the vital club in Enter the Void (2009) is called – wait for it! – The Void? A few moments did, but only a very few in the whole 115 minutes, comprising : an erotic dance; a building that I could swear owes something to the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright (but I could not spot it in the credits); the bizarre pastiche of a beauty, a beast and a photographer; the first of several humorous grave-stones; and a terrific interlude (called such), in which a gathering group of musicians, centred on an accordion ensemble, processed around a large church.

After then, and despite some intrigue concerning a crime and its ritualized repetition, it was a decline, not just musically, as a continuation of the episodic. Simply put, there was simply almost no interest in how (or even why) it all hung together, and it became, if possible, less and less significant. It was as if a premise of The Matrix (1999) that, when plugged in, Neo, Trinity and the others, can enter the machine-world had been stretched out to become some sort of secret, kept to the end.

I would happily have walked out of Holy Motors, at around the point that I describe, but, as my friend did not evince the desire to leave, I stayed so that we would have both seen all of it to discuss afterwards. He thought it a sort of purgatory for M. Oscar, I thought it a purgatory for me in this parade of the pointless, and that any notion that it meant more than the following quotation*** was vain speculation (though I was, also, reminded of Edgar Allen Poe’s story The Man of the Crowd):

As the gom yawncher man passed me I recognized him as the man in the broken-rimmed hat who'd spoken to me in the underground when I was on my way home from Istvan Fallok's studio with electrodes all over my head.

'Hello,' I said.

'Nimser vo,' he said.

'You weren't talking like that the other day. How come?'

'I must've been somebody else then.'

'How's that?'

'Economy. You have a little chat with a stranger now and then, right? So do I, so does everyone. How many lines has the stranger got? Two or three maybe. There's really no need for a new actor each time, is there?'

'So you play them all.'

'The same as you.'

'What do you mean?'

'Yesterday you were the conductor on the 11 bus and you also did quite a nice little tobacconist in the Charing Cross Road. Actually London hasn't got that big a cast, there's only about fifty of us, all working flat out.'

'Are you writing a novel?'

'Novel-writing is for weaklings,' he said, and moved on.




After which, not only go to [to come], for an unfavourable comparison with The Night Elvis Died (2010), but here for a further conceit



End-notes

* I have never heard the male equivalent called ‘a host’.

** Surely a take-off of the Batman dialogue.

*** From The Medusa Frequency by Russell Hoban, Pan Books (Picador), London, 1988, p. 56.

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