Saturday, February 8, 2014

Leos Carax's "Mauvais Sang" & Claire Denis' "Trouble Every Day" at Northwest Film Forum: Feb 14 - 20

This month Northwest Film Forum hosts French Films for Valentines Weekend featuring earlier works by two greats of contemporary Francophile cinema! The first, a look into the stylistically formative years of Leos Carax, director of 2012's most phantasmagoric, absurd, postmodernly playful, wondrous thing seen on a screen, an homage of sorts to Jacques Rivette, Cocteau and Bunuel, "Holy Motors" and over a decade previous, his inventive, divisive, controversial, adaptation of Herman Melville in "Pola X". At the young age of 25 he broke onto the French cinema scene with a film that already would hint at the audacity of his play with the narrative tropes and storytelling conventions of French cinema that would be fully realized on the screen in later works like 1991's "Lovers on the Bridge". The not-distant-future tale of "Mauvais Sang" is a more plaintive affair, describing a paranoid, Alphaville-esque future society where a AIDS-like virus is ravaging Parisian youth, seemingly engineered by a shadowy medical industry Megacorp within a maximum security highrise. Our young protagonist unable to free himself from the orbit of his father's criminal past, and the heist his compatriots have planned with him as the surrogate. But that makes explicit a film which is much more oblique than all that, the quirky mystique of it's persevering charm detailed in Dan Sullivan's review for Film Comment. My lasting memory of "Trouble Every Day" from Claire Denis, (director of last year's pitch-perfect neo-Noir, "Bastards") is that it was billed in Seattle International Film Festival 2001, as a erotic 'vampire movie', much to the horror, confusion and significant dismay of those that I saw the screening with. I had done enough reading in advance from it's coverage in the festival circuit to glean that it mapped a kind of psycho-geography to rival something out of a Thomas Pynchon novel, (and coincidentally was devouring "Gravity's Rainbow" at the time). So I was properly primed for the deepest depths of mind, bodies, perception, self, gone awry. The psychological, psychedelic, psychosexual adventures of one Tyrone Slothrop across the European post-War Zone acted as complimentary preparation for this one by Denis. But again, I'm going to leave it to Max Nelson's review of in tha pages of Film Comment to better depict the film's nimbus of bodily horrors and graphic indulgences.