1. Holy shit, the "Modern Love" dance is now one of my all-time favorite movie scenes.
    Like so many scenes in this movie, it formally seems to come out of nowhere, but is such an amazing audiovisual extension of Alex's emotions. Excitement and loathing and love and pain and cartwheels, all brilliantly encapsulated by Denis Lavant's impossible physicality.
  2. Also, much like how certain scenes in "Almost Famous" snapped into place when I watched "The Apartment" the first time, now I finally understand that "Frances Ha" dance scene
    I mean, it's even set to the same song
  3. Okay, so now that I got that dance scene off my chest, I have to say I really enjoyed the movie overall. Here are some random thoughts:
  4. Leos Carax was 26 when he made the movie
    This is astounding to me because, even though the movie is rough around the edges (by design, I think), it is an extremely stylish and flat-out gorgeous movie. The cinematography's gorgeous.
  5. Juliette Binoche is gorgeous
    I mean, she always is, but still
  6. Julie Delpy is gorgeous
    Okay, ditto.
  7. Even Denis Lavant, who is an undeniably crazy looking man, is gorgeous in this movie
    This one's an accomplishment
  8. The stuff about the HIV-like virus was way underdeveloped and the fact that there was a morality behind it, albeit an old-fashioned one, is unexplored. However, I suppose it was 1985 at the time (when no one knew anything about any of this) and it was just intended as a thematically related MacGuffin.
  9. One thing that was really interesting to me is the way Carax uses silence. Alex didn't speak for years, but now speaks quite a bit. Thomas doesn't say a word in his first two scenes. Anna doesn't say anything for several scenes, either.
    This doesn't seem like an accident, so I wonder if Carax is getting us to form our own idea of the characters based on their appearances and the fact that they seem to be mute. Then, he subverts our expectations (Thomas is a total dick and Anna, while somewhat subservient to Marc, has a lot of power). What's really fascinating here is that Carax is directly fucking with the audience. The characters know A&T can speak, so there's no real reveal on a plot level. Is it meant to keep us off balance?
  10. One of the other things I loved is the fact that Carax didn't rely so much on tricks or stunt doubles as much as he had the actors (mostly Lavant) accomplish great feats like actually skydiving or even just showing off incredibly quick card skills (with the exception being the fruit magic scene, of course).
    This had a paradoxical effect on me as a viewer: It should draw me even closer to the world of the film, considering that the character is clearly performing the actions. And yet! It distances me because I think, holy shit, Denis Lavant is really doing that! Juliette Binoche is actually sky diving! It's kind of like a Jackie Chan movie in that sense. We don't think, "Wow! Jackie's character is falling 30 feet!" We think, "Jackie Chan just fell 30 feet!"
  11. There's also something interesting about the idea that Alex is terrified of the idea of "leaving prints" on those in his life. His first real action in the movie is running away from Lise for that very reason.
  12. But it's impossible to avoid, both realistically and in the world of the film, as is seen through two different symbols. The first is the STD. By giving your partner a virus, you're imprinting yourself onto them forever. The second is the literal bloody handprint left on Anna's face as Alex dies.
  13. Furthermore, Alex forever imprints himself on the family on the policeman he needlessly murders. At first, the policeman is shown to be a joke, but certainly not one deserving to be murdered. He has a family and, more than that, we get a clear shot of his lifeless face, rather than just showing him falling to the ground.
    This is the scene that complicates the whole narrative. Up to this point, Alex has certainly shown negative qualities, but he is far from irredeemable. He's an antihero, for sure, but one we can identify with. With this stupid and cruel act, Alex not only lets us down, but he complicates our feelings towards his inevitably tragic "noble" outlaw death (e.g. Butch Cassidy).
  14. Let's look again at that picture of Anna running after Alex's death (aka the last scene of the film)
    There's a lot going on here. It would be simplistic to say that she's running away because she's sad, but look at her face. Certainly there's sadness there, but there's also joy and freedom, which neatly parallels the "Modern Love" sequence. But there's more! Her arms are outstretched and flapping like a bird in flight. This is not a coincidence! Early on, a big deal is made of Anna's fear of heights and now, as a direct reaction to Alex's death, she's imagining herself flying through the air.
  15. How does this connect to her emotional journey?
    Glad you asked! Previously, Anna made clear that she was very comfortable being cared for and ordered around by Marc. That this was a good enough form of love for her. In its way, a grounded form of love. She was certainly intrigued by Alex's fanciful advances but not willing to actually run away with him. Now that he's dead, she's inspired to approach life differently. His imprint, once something he feared, inspires her to "take flight" and literally run away from Marc.
  16. The final thing I feel like talking about is the references to other movies, especially Godard's movies and silent films. Juliette Binoche has definitely been molded to look like Anna Karina.
  17. Hans, in particular, seems like he could have been a character in "Breathless" 25 years earlier (which fits the timing of the movie's release). In fact, he could be seen as a parody, what with his obsession with looking stylish during criminal acts and reupholstering his getaway car.
  18. There's also Carax's own use of jumpcuts, with the screen randomly going to black in the middle of the scene, then restarting without interruption, another clear reference to Godard's techniques.
  19. Finally, there's the silent film stuff, shown in the film images, actors' makeup and costuming, and even the acting style (particularly in the scene when Anna faints as Alex and Marc fight).
  20. Maybe all of these references are made to add to the performative aspect of the film and the characters themselves (certainly, this would foreshadow Lavant's character in Holy Motors literally assuming the role of several different people). But to what end? I'm not sure. I'd love to hear all of your thoughts on this and other parts of the movie.
  21. All right, that's all I have for now. I hope you all enjoyed Part One of the ListApp Film Society and, love it or hate it, found the movie worth discussing!
  22. Stay tuned for more in the near future, and I can't wait to read your posts!
    Again, they don't have to be a whole production (but they can be!). Just be honest and write in the format you feel most comfortable.
  23. Love, Jake