Sunday, February 3, 2013

FIAF's CinemaTuesdays offers a February full of the wild-card wonders of Leos Carax

If the title of The French Institute Alliance Française's latest CinemaTuesdays offering -- When Boy Meets Girl: The Cinema of Leos Carax, which FIAF tells us is the first ever U.S. retrospective of this increasingly renowned French director -- sounds a bit like Andy Hardy, worry not: M. Carax is a French filmmaker, remember, so any Andy he gives us is likely to be doing some full-frontal fucking, among other transgressive things. (Transgressive for current American movie screens, I mean. The real thing is rather well-entrenched by now.) In the 33 years since his first film film appeared, Carax has made but five full-length features, four shorts, and one segment (Merde) from the tri-part, three-director movie Tokyo.

Of these, only three of the shorts -- Strangulation Blues, My Last Minute and 42 One Dream Rush -- are missing from this retrospective, which includes all of his full-lengthers, in addition to Merde and the short, Sans titre. Carax (shown at left) is a filmmaker who certainly goes his own way, dividing critics and audiences in the process, although his latest work Holy Motors, which is a part of this retrospective, seems to have garnered more international praise than any of his other films and has proven quite popular, as well. (It is fun and, as is all his work, bizarre.) So maybe we're finally beginning to get used to this guy. His newest film also features an extension of that fabulously creepy character -- once again played by Carax's muse, the great Denis Lavant (below) -- from his segment film, Merde, now a doing full-length job.

If you are unfamiliar with the oeuvre of Carax, here's your chance to see it in fairly quick succession and on the big screen. If you already know some of his work, you can now catch up with most of the rest. And if, like me, you've seen it all (or almost all), there's always sloppy seconds to enjoy.

Here's the complete schedule for the series, curated by Marie Losier, which includes a personal appearance by M. Carax to introduce Holy Motors at the 7pm screening on February 26, followed by a Q&A at the end of that screening.

When Boy Meets Girl : 
The Cinema of Leos Carax

Bad Blood (Mauvais sang)
Tuesday, February 5 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm.
Leos Carax, 1986. Color. 116 min.
With Michel Piccoli, Juliette Binoche, and Denis Lavant
In French with English Subtitles
An intoxicating swirl of science fiction and noir that earned Carax the Prix Louis-Delluc, Mauvais sang is set in a stark near future where those who have loveless sex are afflicted with disease. When Alex (Lavant) is hired by two criminals to steal the vaccine that could stop the epidemic, he finds himself smitten with one of their mistresses.
“In his second feature…Carax lives up to his billing as ‘the natural heir of Jean-Luc Godard.’”—The New York Times
Presented as part of FIAF’s First Tuesdays. See for info.

Lovers on the Bridge (Les amants du Pont-Neuf)
Friday, February 8 at 7:30pm
Leos Carax, 1991. Color. 125 min.
With Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant, and Michael Grüber
In French with English Subtitles.
Legendarily beset by production delays, Lovers on the Bridge was greeted with wide acclaim upon its eventual release. Set at and around the famed Pont Neuf, the film chronicles the love between a young addict and a painter who is losing her sight, capturing their messy interdependency and ecstatic tenderness.
*Note: Screening rescheduled from its original time of Tuesday, February 26

Tuesday, February 12 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm
Leos Carax, 2008. Color. 35 min.
With Denis Lavant, Jean-François Balmer, and Julie Dreyfus
In French and Japanese with English Subtitles.
In Merde, Carax delivers an anarchic character study of a raving, unclassifiable creature (Lavant) who demands to be addressed as “Merde.” This darkly funny short, released as part of Tokyo!, a trio of shorts set in the titular city featuring new work by Michel Gondry and Bong Joon-ho in addition to Carax, serves as a precursor for Holy Motors, where “Monsieur Merde” reappears.
Boy Meets Girl
Tuesday, February 12 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm
Leos Carax, 1984. B&W. 100 min.
With Denis Lavant and Mireille Perrier
In French with English Subtitles
Due for military service and miserable from a recent break-up, Alex, a young filmmaker, finds comfort in the company of a similarly suffering teenage girl. Prone to documenting the tiniest details and searching for romance on a grand scale, Alex is reminiscent of Carax himself, whose debut here is a celebration of cinema and idiosyncrasy
     "Charming first feature,"  -- The New York Times.

Sans titre
Tuesday, February 19 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm
Leos Carax, 1997. Color. 9min.
With Guillaume Depardieu, Yekaterina Golubeva, and Catherine Deneuve
In French with English Subtitles.
When the Cannes Film Festival asked Carax to produce a filmic postcard that would update people on the status of his upcoming project, he responded with this abstract experimental short, a synthesis of clips from films and music (Night of the Hunter, Leonard Cohen) and footage from his then-unreleased Pola X.
Pola X
Tuesday, February 19 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm
Leos Carax, 1999. Color. 134min.
With Guillaume Depardieu, Yekaterina Golubeva, and Catherine Deneuve
In French with English Subtitles. Screening at Florence Gould Hall.
Living in a countryside castle with his mother, a bourgeois writer enjoys a carefree life until he is confronted by a woman claiming to be his sister. With life thrown into disarray, the man plunges into a relationship with her, turning his back on both his mother and his fiancée. Shocking, explicit, yet still steeped in the romance of Carax’s other work.

"Pola X has enough fireworks to keep you in your seat. When it's over, you'll know you've had an experience." -- Stephen Holden, The New York Times.

Holy Motors
Tuesday, February 26 at 12 & 4:30pm
Leos Carax, 2012. Color. 115 min.
With Denis Lavant, Édith Scob, Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue
In French and English with English Subtitles
Carax’s first feature in more than a decade confirms the originality of his vision as well as the talents of longtime collaborator Denis Lavant. In the nocturnal hours, Monsieur Oscar appears to live many lives—exacting murderer, doting father, ogre-like savage—but it’s unclear which is exactly real. And if he is merely acting, then whom is he acting for? Hallucinatory, vital filmmaking.
The New York Times Critics’ Pick

“A gripping surrealist odyssey that makes most other films look very buttoned-up.“—The Guardian (UK)

acclaimed director Leos Carax presents Holy Motors and participates in a Q&A following the screening. Moderated by Richard Brody, The New Yorker film critic.
Holy Motors
Tuesday, February 26 at 7pm
*Note: Screening rescheduled from Friday, February 8.

About FIAF
FIAF's mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression.
Special thanks to Leos Carax, Joan Dupont, Oleg and Dima Dubson, Marison Martinez, Amaury Augé, and Unifrance.
Cinema programs are made possible by Institut français, Unifrance, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
CinémaTuesdays is sponsored by American Airlines, The Official Airline of FIAF; Lancôme, Nespresso, and TV5MONDE.
FIAF would like to thank the following winter season sponsors:
American Airlines, the official airline of FIAF; OpenSkies, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; Florence Gould Foundation; Institut français; New York State Council on the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, and Robert de Rothschild.

What:  When Boy Meets Girl: The Cinema of Leos Carax
When: CinemaTuesdays, February 5th through 26
Where: FIAF -- Florence Gould Hall an Tinker Auditorium
               55 E. 59th St. (between Park and Madison Aves.)
Admission: $10; $7 students; free for FIAF members ($2 in advance)
Tickets: or 800-982-2787
Information: www. or 212-355-6160
Transportation: Subway -- 4, 5, 6, N, R & Q to 59th St. & Lexington Ave.
Buses: M1, M2, Mc, M4, Q31 to 59th St., M5 to 58th St., 
and from Queens: Q32 to 60th & Madison.

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