Modern Love: The Films of LEOS CARAX

"Why do we make films? Because, often, there's no one to talk to. The other person is unreachable." - Leos Carax.
The films of director Leos Carax - ecstatic and impassioned in a way only French movies can be, elusive and fragmented in a way only a post-modern, post-New Wave filmmaker's can be - revolve around one of life's elemental questions: what does love possibly mean in the Modern World? Carax's hero/alter ego - played in his first three films by the remarkable child-man Denis Lavant - is invariably inarticulate, shambling, uneasy in his own skin, until he finds himself seized and transported by a love as beatific as a saint's. Carax's visual style (aided by the wonderful cinematographers Jean-Yves Escoffier and Eric Gautier) is one of the most seductive in current cinema: cool, beautifully transparent shots that frame his actors with an amazing clarity, punctuated by flights of poetic ecstasy like the water-skiing sequence in LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE, or Lavant's mad, tumbling dance to David Bowie's "Modern Love" in BAD BLOOD.
Born in 1960 to an American mother and French father, Carax himself is something more than a mystery (his name is an anagram for "Alex Oscar," a play on his childhood dream of winning an Academy Award.) Renowned for his off-screen love affairs with leading ladies Mireille Perrier and Juliette Binoche, and for his on-set perfectionism - for LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE, he built a life-size recreation of the Pont-Neuf Bridge, reportedly bankrupting three producers in the process - Carax remains a singularly brilliant and unpredictable filmmaker.
We are very excited to welcome Leos Carax to the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian for the first Los Angeles retrospective of his work!

POLA X, 1999, WinStar Cinema, 134 min. Dir. Leos Carax. Inspired by Herman Melville's novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities, POLA X is a mournful, majestic epic of forbidden, incestuous love. Guillaume Depardieu stars as a beautiful, fair-haired young novelist blessed with critical success and a too-adoring mother (played by the ravishing Catherine Deneuve) - until he meets a feral young woman in the forest (Katerina Golubeva) who claims to be his long-lost sister. Like some existential vampire, Golubeva draws the nave Depardieu into a shadowy world of erotic passion and despair. "An often remarkable, deeply unsettling and original piece of work ... virtually every shot transmutes a shock of surprise." - Patrick McGavin, Hollywood Reporter.

BOY MEETS GIRL, 1984, WinStar Cinema, 104 min. Carax's first feature, shot when he was 23 years old, helped kick-start the Young French Cinema of the 1980's and 90's: Denis Lavant stars as a loveably aimless young cinaste who spends his time thinking up titles for films he hasn't made yet - until he hears the voice of a woman (Mireille Perrier) on an apartment intercom system, and falls madly, irreversibly in love.

THE LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE (LES AMANTS DU PONT-NEUF), 1991, Swank/Miramax, 126 min. 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. A mad, ecstatic whirl of impossibly romantic gestures - water-skiing on the Seine, Lavant's ritualistic fire-breathing - played out against the wrenching, almost Chaplin-esque poetry of life on the streets. "A throwback to the golden era of both Hollywood and of the fatalistic French cinema that teamed such international icons as Jean Gabin and Michelle Morgan." - Kevin Thomas, L.A. Times.

BAD BLOOD (MAUVAIS SANG), 1986, WinStar Cinema, 105 min. A brilliant mixture of classic French crime film and spectacular, Minnelli-like romance, BAD BLOOD begins with a gang of thieves plotting to steal a deadly AIDS-like virus. Then, with true perversity, Carax dispenses with the trappings of the gangster film, focusing instead on the insanely-charged love affair between petty crook Denis Lavant and the luminous Juliette Binoche. Co-starring Julie Delpy, Michel Piccoli and legendary tough guy Serge Reggiani, and featuring stunning cinematography by Carax's longtime d.p. Jean-Yves Escoffier.

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