Leos Carax Retrospective at The American Cinematheque

The American Cinematheque has gone and done it again. Starting tonight they will be screening a retrospective of the films of the mad genius Leos Carax to celebrate the upcoming release of his newest film ANNETTE. Carax can best be described as a somewhat cranky Frenchman who makes movies exactly the way he wants to make them, no matter how odd they might seem to most people. When most directors would simply make a domestic drama or space opera with Adam Driver, Carax decides to make a romantic musical set to the music of the rock band Sparks that honestly has made a lot of people very confused. In case you are wondering, I consider all of these things to be excellent ideas and the very peak of cinematic art.

Seriously.

Here’s a quote from the Cinematheque’s website about the director:

Visionary and enigmatic, Leos Carax has authored some of the most beautiful moments of French cinema in the last 35 years. A poetic genius with an overflowing imagination, this “l’enfant terrible” has consistently transcended filmic codes and genres to create a world full of visions and ghosts.

First up is POLA X and BOY MEETS GIRL, you can buy tickets here. Screening starts at 7:30 p.m. and 10 pm at the Aero Theatre tonight.

POLA X (1999) stars Guillaume Depardieu, Katerina Golubeva, and Catherine Deneueve.

Pola X is a 1999 French drama film directed by Leos Carax and starring Guillaume Depardieu, Yekaterina Golubeva and Catherine Deneuve. The film is loosely based on the Herman Melville novel Pierre: or, The Ambiguities. It revolves around a young novelist who is confronted by a woman who claims to be his lost sister, and the two begin a romantic relationship. The film title is an acronym of the French title of the novel, Pierre ou les ambiguïtés, plus the Roman numeral “X” indicating the tenth draft version of the script that was used to make the film.

BOY MEETS GIRL (1984) is Carax’s first feature and stars his future collaborator in the incandescent HOLY MOTORS Denis Lavant and Mirielle Perrier.

Boy Meets Girl is a 1984 French drama film, written and directed by Leos Carax, starring Denis Lavant and Mireille Perrier. The plot follows the relationship between an aspiring filmmaker (Denis Lavant), who has just been left by his lover, and a suicidal young woman (Mireille Perrier), who is also reeling from a failed romance.

On Tuesday, August 10, the series continues with a screening of ANNETTE, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Here’s the trailer:

The screening comes with a Q&A with Carax, the Sparks brothers Ron and Russell Mael and actor Simon Helberg. The catch is that it is for members only, but membership, as you can see with this screening, has its perks. You can check out the membership levels here.

The series skips to August 14 at the Los Feliz 3 with the film MAUVAIS SANG (1986) aka BAD BLOOD that has a Q&A with Carax, but tragically, it’s sold out and I’m bereft. Here’s the synopsis of the film though, because you should definitely watch it. It stars Denis Levant and Juliette Binoche.

In the movie, a sexually transmitted disease called STBO is sweeping the country; it’s spread by having sex without emotional involvement, and most of its victims are teenagers who make love out of curiosity rather than commitment. A woman hires two men to steal the serum, which has been locked away in an inaccessible government building.

And here’s the trailer:

However, luck is with me because my most favorite Carax film, HOLY MOTORS (2012), is also screening on August 14th at the Los Feliz 3 at 10pm and there’s still tickets. Link is here. Bear in mind that I haven’t seen ANNETTE quite yet.

In a career filled with exceptional films, for me — HOLY MOTORS, is a crowning achievement. Here’s the trailer:

I once waited for over two hours for the privilege to see it at AFI Fest and to hear Carax curse out the DCP projector which caused the delay. It was totally worth it, although I think it might have contributed to the eventual ruin of my then current relationship. Again, still worth it.

Holy Motors is a 2012 fantasy drama film written and directed by Leos Carax, starring Denis Lavant and Édith Scob. Lavant plays Mr Oscar, a man who appears to have a job as an actor, who inhabits several different roles a day, but there are no cameras filming the man’s performances or audiences watching.

HOLY MOTORS is an intensely creative visual feast that advances the idea that life itself is a performance.

The finale is LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE (1991) at the Aero Theatre on August 16th at 7:30 p.m. The screening is in 35 mm and the tickets are available here. This is the synopsis from the Cinematheque. It also stars Denis Levant and Juliette Binoche.

A childlike homeless man (Denis Lavant, in a heart-stopping performance) and a soon-to-be-blind painter (Juliette Binoche) fall in love on the Pont-Neuf bridge. Against the dazzling Technicolor backdrop of Paris by night and the city’s 1989 bicentennial celebration, the film is a mad whirl of impossibly romantic gestures played out against the Chaplin-esque pathos of the streets.

Here’s the trailer:

This is really a wonderful opportunity to watch Carax’s films and understand more about his cinematic oeuvre now that ANNETTE is being released. To witness and understand more about the films of a incredibly brave and undeniably romantic filmmaker whose work will consistently surprise and delight you with real human emotions and tragedy.

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