Saturday, September 29, 2007

Leos Carax clip "retrospective": my interview and several scenes

In conjunction with our vintage episode this week on-air, I thought I’d post some fragments of my 2000 interview with cult French filmmaker Leos Carax, and two of his finest music-driven sequences.

Thus far in the 14 years I’ve been doing the show I’ve covered a lot of the filmmakers whose work I love, but none has been a greater puzzlement than Carax: a young tyro who made two terrific lower-budgeted movies and then seemed to hit a Coppola-like impasse on his third, the wonderfully romantic Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991). The film makes up a large part of his “mythos,” as he went over-budget, shot for a long period of time, and actually recreated an actual Parisian bridge in a studio. The result is a deliriously (dare I say it again) romantic film, but it seemingly sealed his fate working with French budgets, and he didn’t make a fourth film until 1999 with the challenging and even abrasive Pola X.

I interviewed him on the NYC opening of the film (and also spoke to its star Guillaume Depardieu). Pola seemed to work against a lot of what drew cinephiles to his first three films: it was missing a “music-video” moment like the ones below, the storyline had ambiguities (the "Pola" in the title actually stands for Pierre, ou les ambiguities). The initial trio are brimming with life and an enthusiasm that is very reminiscent of early Godard, whereas Pola set out not to entrance viewers but to keep them awake and slightly disoriented.

In any case, I was just thinking about Carax, and wondering if he is working on anything these days. Thus, I present two clips from my interview:
The first has him discussing the clash of styles between the first three films and Pola (includes a very cool silent-movie moment from his second film Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood, 1986), which exemplifies his initial “cinephile” stylization, great stuff.


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The second is a brief discussion of the financing he was forced to find for Pola since he wasn’t exactly an odds-on favorite for funding in France after the failure of Les Amants:


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Next are the two clips that solidified my love for Carax’s work, as if I didn’t already dig his pure enthusiasm for filmmaking, and devotion to sanctifying beautiful actresses in the manner of Godard (Mireille Perrier in Boy Meets Girl is a perfect gamine figure, but Juliette Binoche is transcendent in both of her pics with Carax; the two were a real-life couple, and Carax even scratched a dedication to her in the emulsion of one of them!). The first is visualization of a song from David Bowie’s Anthony Newley period, “When I Live My Dream” from the first Carax film Boy Meets Girl (1984).


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The second is the most exuberant fuckin’ scene I can think of: Denis Lavant (the tiny, athletic star of Carax’s first three films) is in love with the very Anna Karina-like Juliette Binoche in Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood, 1986), so he winds up running/dancing through Parisian streets to Bowie’s “Modern Love.” Something I’ve shown many times on the show because it’s a testament to the use of music in movies, Carax’s New Wave-ish enthusiasm for filmmaking, and Lavant’s incredibly deft physical skill.


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Some things I didn’t post: the original French trailer for the splendid Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (Bowie ain’t the focus here, but one of his songs is heard). This movie is available on U.S. DVD as Lovers on the Bridge.


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A true oddity that I’d never seen, which of course had to surface on the invaluable YouTube, Carax’s making-of about Pola made for the Cannes film festival, quite a weird little number, with much silent-movie imagery:


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Some gent’s nicely assembled “best of” montage of Carax’s work thus far (including the above-mentioned short), scored to (what else) “Modern Love”:


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And, as a last blast (literally): Carax’s short offering showing “his last minute”:


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3 comments:

Maxim said...

Thanks for this - I've loved this guy ever since I saw Mauvais Sang at a film festival about a million years ago. I believe he (as well as his totem actor Denis Lavant) are in Harmony Korine's new movie, Mister Lonely.

melodrama-films said...

A nice surprise to see on the internet somebody who knows Carax's films and loves them too. First i saw Mauvais Sang thanks to a teacher in my cinema school a few years ago, later i saw Boy meets..., Les Amants and Pola X. I saw Mauvais Sang, and like it so so so much that i made a film, very independent(latinamerican independent), and i like to say that my real teacher in cinema has been the Carax's movies. What a filmmaker not recognized yet as should be.
I not live in New York, i live in chile but maybe can interest you to see some extract of my film, a film of a latinamerican filmmaker who loves carax films. The film is called MELODRAMA, will be release in Chile and festivals around the world the next year. Watch on youtube and use the tags "melodrama" "cine" "chileno" "calostro" The you will find only a few video clips.

Kind Regards.
Alex Aldana.

melodrama-films said...

And sorry my poor english.

cheers.