Review: HOLY MOTORS Is Some Kind of Wonderful

"Holy Motors" is so layered a film, we don’t even know where or how to begin to describe it. It’s so much easier to dissect an unpleasant movie than it is to praise a marvelous one. There are only so many times one can say, “It’s awesome!” before people begin to realize there are a limited number of adjectives in a writer’s vocabulary.

Yes, “Holy Motors” is awesome, but let’s try this: writer/director Leos Carax has taken his love of avant-garde cinema to radical new heights. There, that should do it.

Denis Lavant (a frequent collaborator with Carax) stars as Monsieur Oscar, an elderly homeless woman, motion capture professional in the arts of combat and sex, sewer barbarian, overbearing father, accordion player (in an all-accordion band), assassin, old man on his deathbed, romantic reunited with an old flame (played by Kylie Minogue), and a father to two adult monkeys.” (You’re probably already lost, but bear with us). Oscar is a performer and travels in a white limousine from one destination to the next, playing these emotionally and physically demanding characters, one at a time, in each location. It’s assumed that we, the audience, are watching him every step of the way. His driver is Céline (Édith Scob — mostly known as the daughter with the disfigured face in Georges Franju’s “Eyes Without a Face”), and she has two simple responsibilities: give him the detailed file for his next appointment and make sure he arrives on time for it. We learn early on that Oscar is followed by constant security during his missions, so his profession is seemingly dangerous and important.

Carax also brings back the character of “Merde” from his short in the anthology film, “Tokyo!” This hellion looks like a Leprechaun who was never accepted into the Leprechaun society because he’s, well, a bit rough around the edges, to say the least. His tiny green pants rise well above his ankles, his toenails and fingernails are long, sharp and tainted with who knows what and he’s blind in one eye. This uncivilized man roams cemeteries, eats colorful flowers freshly put on graves and kidnaps a model (Eva Mendes, in a brief but important cameo). His intention with her is harmless — he just wants to lick her armpits and romance her without exchanging bodily fluids. It’s the most unconventional erotic moment one can possibly imagine.

This segment, along with a few others, includes some quick but extreme violence, and it’s unclear whether the brutality we are witnessing is actually happening or is part of the show. The complexity of this film’s reality is brilliant.

Film critic-turned-filmmaker Carax is known for taking daring chances. “Holy Motors” is his salute to all the French New Wave filmmakers who dared to think differently from the Hollywood norm decades ago. To add, this film just might be Carax’s visual commentary on today’s society.

Let’s recap: we are shown a homeless woman desperate for change, and minutes later, a rich artist completely unhappy with this fantasy job most would kill for. There are many questions that arise in this film, none of which are spelled out in front of you. This is a film that requires multiple viewings and encourages speculation and debate.

"Holy Motors" is a character study about a guy living life as other people more often than as himself. As Oscar gets dressed for his next persona, his hollow eyes suggest this job is quickly becoming an exhaustion. (Also, he says he’s exhausted twice, so that makes it obvious, too). But what do they say on Broadway? "The show must go on." Even though he is only dressed as one of his characters for five to 10 minutes, Oscar makes sure each personality becomes eccentric enough to stand on its own. You will not forget any of them. This is the handy work from Lavant, who’s perhaps the best character actor we’ve seen since Charlie Chaplin (which is ironic because he plays Charlie Chaplin in Harmony Korine’s "Mister Lonely"). Lavant gives each of his characters vision and ambition and pulls it off remarkably.

Follow Chase Whale on Twitter.

Originally published on NextMovie.

Review: TAKE THIS WALTZ Is a Remarkable, Offbeat Love Story

Take This Waltz
Magnolia Pictures

In "Take This Waltz," Margot (Michelle Williams) has a good life. She’s happily married to Lou (Seth Rogen), the successful author of a chicken cookbook, and they’re living comfortably. If you were a fly on the wall in their home, you’d assume this young couple was so passionate for each other that their young romance would last ‘till death do them part. But something soon seems off with Margot. She’s empty inside.

Coming home from a business trip, she meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), a passionate painter who makes ends meet as a rickshaw driver. Margot and Daniel immediately hit it off, transcending into an unconventional friendship farther than she and Lou could ever reach. She starts to fall for Daniel, but fights — hard — to resist the temptation of getting physically and mentally involved with another man. As the days go by, the temptation gets harder and the emptiness grows. “Take This Waltz” is a remarkable, offbeat love story about how not all perfect romances have a fairy tale beginning or end.

"Take This Waltz" asks questions and challenges true love. Can someone be happily married and fall deeply in love for someone else? Will it be easy? Margot and Lou’s relationship seem so perfect. Throughout the film, they show their undying love by telling each other horrifically cute things like, “I just bought a new melon baller and I’d like to gouge out your eyeballs with it,” followed quickly by, “I love you so much.” When the heart wants something else, this tactic doesn’t work anymore.

Also Check Out: Q&A: Michelle Williams Doesn’t Want You to Settle

Michelle Williams as the lead no longer has anything to prove. She’s one of the few who broke away from teen idol typecasting (does anyone actually remember her anymore from “Dawson’s Creek”?) to become one of the most prolific working actors currently working. That said, the staggering performances in this movie are from Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman. They both come from a background of filthy comedy and take their stab at, for once, being taken seriously. And they both do this without flaw. Silverman plays Geraldine, a recovering alcoholic who bides her time by taking exercise swimming courses with the elderly at a local YMCA. Lou is a kind-hearted man who sees the big picture on marriage — it might be a slow burn at times, but it’s supposed to last a lifetime. It’s exciting to know how far of a range these two actors have.

"Take This Waltz" is an unconventional look at the new and wondrous feeling of falling in love. It’s not always easy, especially in Margot’s case, but writer and director Sarah Polley has made it look beautiful. In the end, this film is all about Polley and what this promising director is capable of. We congratulate her for showing romance in a new and daring way.

This article was written on MTV’s

Sex and Love Get Complicated in 'Your Sister's Sister'

Your Sister's Sister
Benjamin Kasulke

We’ve seen a lot of indie movies at the cineplex lately with the similar themes: relationships put in uncomfortable situations we hope never to face. Awkward breakups, unwanted pregnancies, villainous ex-lovers and anything that could ruin a potentially wonderful relationship are all on the table.

Similarly, Lynn Shelton’s latest effort, “Your Sister’s Sister,” starring Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemary DeWitt, is a moving, serendipitous love story about people aching for love which, through stubborn compromises and foolish decisions, they just might find. The film is an admirable examination of making what could be considered a bad decision, and the string of undesired events that come from it. Cause and effect.

Jack (Mark Duplass) has a few problems. He hates his dead brother, he’s mad at the world, and he needs a break. At the suggestion of his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), on the one-year anniversary of his brother’s death, Jack rides his bike, hops on a ferry and heads to the middle of nowhere to stay in her family’s cabin to get his head straight.

Also Check Out: Interview: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Lynn Shelton on “Your Sister’s Sister”

When he arrives, he finds that Iris’ sister Hannah (DeWitt) is also staying there to get her head straight, unbeknownst to Iris. After a few dozen shots of tequila and some intimate conversation, Hannah and Jack have what they thought would be a one-night stand, which turns into a weekend crash course on romance. Iris shows up unexpectedly to check in on Jack, who doesn’t want his best friend to know that he just slept with his sister. What he does know, however, is that Iris has plans to tell him that she loves him.

Mark Duplass has already achieved so much in the film industry. He’s one of the pioneers of the “Mumblecore Generation” (although you shouldn’t ever ask him about it), and has broken into making bigger films with bigger stars, such as the recent “Jeff, Who Lives at Home." Sometimes he pops his head in front of the camera, having starred in movies cowritten and directed by his brother Jay. It’s safe to say he wears many hats successfully, and “Your Sister’s Sister” really relies on Duplass’ Jack. Do we want to feel sorry for this loser? Do we even care? Why is he mad at his dead brother? By the end of the film we really don’t feel anything for the guy — he wants us to know he will always be a loser — but we do want him to gain some form of happiness out of the weird, weird situation he has just put himself in.

Blunt and DeWitt carry on natural conversations like sisters, as if they’ve known each other since birth. One irritating thing about this, however — which does eventually get addressed — is Iris’ English accent. Addressing it earlier in the film would have eased the curiosity factor quite a bit.

The relationships in “Your Sister’s Sister are complicated. Jack just slept with Hannah, whose sister is Iris, Jack’s best friend, who wants to tell Jack that she loves him. The more Jack and Hannah prolong telling Iris about their drunken sexual encounter, the harder it’s going to hurt. One of the things you may ask yourself is, “I go to the movies to escape for 90+ minutes from the slums of everyday life. Why would I want to see a movie that depicts a situation that feels so real?” The answer is simple: It’s comforting to watching dramatic and comic fiction regarding the things some of us actually have to deal with in life. When done right, those kinds of films are worth your time. “Your Sister’s Sister” happens to be one of them.

Written and posted on MTV’s