Holy Motors’ Motor Skills

As Holy Motors begins, a sleepwalker leans against his bedroom wall, upon which a forest is painted.

Or might it be a real forest after all?

The sleeper—played by filmmaker Leos Carax—moves into it, like Lucy stepping into Narnia, where he finds a strange movie theater and a catatonic audience.

Here comes an ancient dog—both magnificent and menacing—stalking down the theater aisle. Perhaps he’s a portent of the death of cinema in the age of digital media. Perhaps he’s Carax himself, transformed, an old dog come to show us some new tricks.

And wow, does he have some new tricks. The wallpaper forest and the phantom dog are only the first of this movie’s many big-screen wonders. It’s a mesmerizing, multi-genre marathon, as if the director knows he’s dying, and so he’s showing us trailers for all of the films he’d make with world enough and time.

Still, this isn’t just a series of incongruous short films. Common threads bind these vivid sketches together with the sense of an urgent appeal. [Read more…]