In Your Queue: Gimme the Loot, Fat Kid Rules the World


Holy Motors – Leos Carax 

Nothing makes a bit of sense in Carax’s surrealist-absurdist masterpiece, but if it did, it would almost be a crime against cinema, so brilliant is its outcome. Set almost as a fluid series of short films that all feature the same morphing lead, played by Denis Levant, his French film works better the less you know going into it, but rest assured: You’ll either love it for its left-field inventiveness, or hate it for its strange, reckless meandering. For those of you who have seen Tokyo!, keep an eye out for the return of Mr. Merde, as well as a little number by Kylie Miogue. Available to stream on Netflix.

Gimme the Loot – Adam Leon

This recommendation unfortunately comes sight unseen, which I do feel very uncomfortable about, but as of this writing the film hadn’t filtered through to the various streaming platforms that it’s supposed to be available on (Amazon, YouTube, Playstation, Xbox). It’s an exciting film prospect nonetheless, or maybe it just seems that way to me because it’s a story so close to my wayward youth when I would have liked nothing better than to be the biggest writer in New York, as the films stars, Malcolm and Sofia (Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington), aim to accomplish by tagging the Mets’ homerun apple at Citifield. In a time when subway cars have all become graffiti resistant and derelict buildings all inhabited by young white people in fedoras, it’s a daring and novel — and kind of charming — way to go about it. The apple is both a mythic legend and a joke in New York, and perfectly encapsulates the Mets’ lovable losers syndrome, which appears to parallel Malcolm and Sofia extremely well, even though they’re from enemy territory — the Bronx. I hope the film succeeds, but it seems worth a few bucks to stream even if it doesn’t.

Fat Kid Rules the World – Matthew Lillard

It’s strange to be recommending something — anything — that Matthew Lillard is involved in, but he’s got a strange winner of a film here in his adaptation of a YA novel about a fat kid who tries to step in front of a bus to end his daily dose of torment but is saved just as the bus is screeching to a halt by a ragamuffin street kid, who shakes the fat kid down for a few bucks immediately after. It’s Lillard’s first film as director and it shows a little bit in the structure and execution of the film, especially in the first act, but it’s not hard to get past when you look straight at the Angus-like story that ends up avoiding most of the pitfalls of the awkward coming-of-age story. Jacob Wysocki and Matt O’Leary work well enough in tandem as the nervous, overweight Troy and the druggie friend you hope your kid doesn’t make, Marcus, and the story fits so well in its Seattle backdrop, that it lands firmly outside of the realm of first time film. It’s not an Earth shattering film by any means, and stories about weight are hard to look at sometimes, but it’s a fitting and endearing movie for the times, that’s for sure. The film is available to stream on Netflix.

Holy Motors – Leos Carax (2012)


If you’re looking for a movie that makes complete sense – something with a straight, clean narrative, maybe – then Holy Motors is not for you. This is Leos Carax’s first full-length film since 1999’s Pola X, and he treats it as if it were a testament – the last movie he will make before dying. As a result, Holy Motors feels like it comes straight from Carax’s head to the screen, and it calls upon the prodigious talents of his on-screen alter ego, Denis Lavant, to wind through this absurdly surreal masterpiece.

Lavant is a modern Lon Chaney here playing Mr. Oscar, a sort of roving performer who travels around Paris in a white stretch limo, making various “appointments” throughout the day, which are secretly recorded by a shadowy company. Each appointment involves a wildly different task that seems to make no sense – at least not to the audience. During his appointments, Mr. Oscar plays a dozen characters that cover a wide spectrum of oddities – a panhandling old babushka woman, an accordion band leader, a stern father who scolds his daughter for lying about being popular, old men and murderers – each with a different face, posture and concept to match the appointment.

The film has two interludes that seem more genuine than the others – one with Mr. Oscar’s boss and one with his old partner, Jean, wonderfully played by Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue, who sings the sentimental song “Who Were We?” as Mr. Oscar forlornly follows her around an abandoned building, perhaps thinking about the past. But it’s difficult to tell what these interludes mean to Mr. Oscar – they may just be mere appointments dressed up as more significant moments. It’s hard to tell.

Carax works his audience completely and with confidence, but he earns the audience’s trust before he toys with it. It takes a lot to put yourself completely in a director’s hands during a movie like this, but doing so makes Holy Motors deeply rewarding if you hang in with it and let Carax guide you.

It’s a strange journey. Take, for instance, the incomprehensible, flower-hungry Mr. Merde, one of Mr. Oscar’s characters, who kidnaps Eva Mendes from a fashion shoot in a Parisian cemetery and brings her underground. You might ask “why?” – and rightly so. But there is no real answer to that question. Mr. Merde is a role reprised by Levant from Carax’s entry in the short film collection Tokyo!; “strange” doesn’t quite fit as a descriptor for the character, but trying to figure him out is an intriguing exercise.

Most words fail to describe Holy Motors, actually. It’s a sensory film that depends on your willingness to have a surreal adventure. And an adventure like this one is cinema at its greatest and most pure – like the very first films, which were just snapshots of life taken out of context, Holy Motors reinvents itself as it unfolds, pushing limits, breaking boundaries and reforging the form of the movie along the way. In that regard, Carax is almost a time traveler, showing the past and the future of film at the same time.