Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Cahiers du Cinéma goes for Holy Motors

Cahiers du Cinéma‘s  ever-eccentric best-of-the-year list has just been unveiled. In previous years, the durable organ of French cinema has expressed admiration for such odd films as Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny, Clint Eastwood’s Space Cowboys and Brian de Palma’s …

Sun, Dec 2, 2012, 22:48

   

Cahiers du Cinéma‘s  ever-eccentric best-of-the-year list has just been unveiled. In previous years, the durable organ of French cinema has expressed admiration for such odd films as Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny, Clint Eastwood’s Space Cowboys and Brian de Palma’s Mission to Mars. To be fair, the 2012 list is not one of their maddest charts. Here goes…

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 1. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)

2. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)

3. Twixt (Francis Ford Coppola)

4. 4:44 Last Day On Earth (Abel Ferrara)

4. In Another Country (Hong Sang-Soo)

4. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)

7. Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara)

8. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)

8. Faust (Alexadre Sokourov)

10. Keep The Lights On (Ira Sachs)

The top place for the brilliant Holy Motors is not an enormous shock. Rich with cinematic references, that picaresque fantasy could have been constructed to appeal specifically to the cineaste mob. Cosmopolis at number two? The David Cronenberg film has been receiving sniffy reviews ever since it was unveiled at Cannes. But the Cahiers mob  are touchingly loyal to their heroes. They always include the latest Cronenberg  film. They always include the latest de Palma picture. If those two men released a film featuring nothing but farting monkeys — and de Palma might — it would still waltz into the end-of-year chart. Heck, they put Brian’s useless Redacted at number one a few years back. Similar rules apply as far as Francis Ford Coppola is concerned. They honoured the near-unwatchable Tetro. So, why not include the barely seen Twixt. (In a spirit of full disclosure, I will acknowledge that I haven’t seen the film).

Two only partially released Abel Ferrara films? One of the most insipidly received films — In Another Country — from a Cannes programme that also included Michael Haneke’s Amour and Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills? We fully approve of the inclusion of Take Shelter. But that counted as a 2011 film in these territories.

On reflection, the list is as odd as ever. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Cahiers is becoming odd in rather predictable ways. Loyalty to the Americans (and Canadians) who emerged in the 1970s is all very well, but the old radical rag does look in danger of becoming the Mojo magazine of serious film writing. Coppola is their Bob Dylan. De Palma is their Leonard Cohen. You see what I mean.

Stay tuned for our own end-of-year madness on Friday.

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