Sunday, January 10, 2010

Favorites of My Favorites #4 -- Leos Carax

The complicated case of Leos Carax.  And how someone this talented could only churn out four features in the last twenty-six years.  In that way, he reminds me a little of Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Cimino, two guys that have perhaps slipped from the level at which they were once working.

How does this happen?  We really didn't see it during the Golden Age. As they got older, Hawks, Ford, Walsh, and Cukor all continued to make films at a pretty good clip and at a very high level.

But for Coppola, Cimino, and then Carax, it was different.  They didn't have the old studio system to reign them in.  They could risk it all on one project, and each one of them did -- Coppola (Apocalypse Now), Cimino (Heaven's Gate), and Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge). And I'm not sure any of them has fully recovered.

Carax was only 24 when he made Boy Meets Girl.  It's rare for someone so young to have the opportunity to make a film at this level.  The result, a film that captures the early, angst-filled twenties as well as any I've ever seen.

Carax's work is challenging, at times abstract in a way that can frustrate audiences looking for a more conventional narrative.  But he has a special gift for being lyrical, taking the heavy machinery of moviemaking and making it feel like it's floating at times.  He's still one of our greatest descendants of Godard.  And I sure hope we'll at least get another four features from him before he decides to hang up the gloves.

LEOS CARAX (in preferential order)
1.  Boy Meets Girl
2.  Mauvais Sang
3.  The Lovers on the Bridge
4.  Pola X
5.  Tokyo!  (Merde) watched 1/12/10

Never seen:
Tokyo! (short)
Strangulations blues (short)
Sans titre (short)


  1. He's amazing...I'll never forget the thrill of seeing LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE on the big screen when it finally landed in America.

  2. Yes, I remember how it was like ten years before it finally came to the States. They did a retrospective on him at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles in '98 or '98, showed all his films, and Carax was there to discuss each of them. it was one of the most memorable cinephile experiences I've had.