Holy Motors and Hail at Fantastic Fest
I wish I had more time to see more films at Fantastic Fest 2012. That’s the bad part about having an all-consuming day job, it prohibits me from going totally hog wild at local film festivals. Nonetheless, I was able to catch some really fantastic films though — and, in the end, that is what it is all about, right?
Leos Carax’s Holy Motors was hands down the most impressive of the lot. That said, enjoyment of Holy Motors rests upon your ability to free yourself of inhibitions and preconceptions, thus permitting yourself to float in Carax’s sea of surrealism for two hours. Like David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Holy Motors shuttles us through its narrative in a white limousine, allowing us a tour of the decaying moral fiber of our post modern world. At each stop, Oscar (Denis Lavant) adopts a new disguise and persona, like an over-booked character actor tirelessly bouncing from set to set. Oscar’s career choice (if it even is a choice) is an exhausting and dangerous one, and his relentless timeline could very well be the death of him.
Holy Motors may be a film about playing roles and fulfilling the fantasies of others, but there is so much more to it than just that. For example, Holy Motors contemplates the human propensity towards voyeurism while also taking on the crazed environment of internet culture in which people will do anything to attract web traffic.
The biggest surprise for me, however, was Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s Hail. Courtin-Wilson’s film is certainly not an enjoyable experience, but it is a transfixing one nonetheless. Danny (Daniel P. Jones) is released from prison at the beginning of the film and returns home to his girlfriend Leanne (Leanne Campbell). With no legitimate career to call his own — or even a resume — Danny takes a job as a lackey at a garage. Unfortunately, fate deems that Danny cannot live the straight and narrow for very long. Hail is a meandering meditation on Danny’s inability to break free from his economic class due to societal restraints. As an uneducated ex-con, Danny is destined to live a hellish existence. Life will never be easy for him.
Daniel P. Jones’ performance as Danny is astounding. This is a semi-autobiographical tale of Jones’ life, so we can only assume that there is a very fine line between Danny the character and Jones the actor, making this one of the most chillingly authentic performances I have ever seen. The brutal realism is accented magnificently by experimental visual flourishes courtesy of cinematographer Germain McMicking.