Hah! I've just been thinking of it, and Carax, because of the 2021 poll (and it's on some lists), and because Pola X, the only film of his I haven't seen, will be playing at the UW Cinematheque at the end of this month (in 35mm). Three of Carax' films (Mauvais sang, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Holy Motors) are on my all-time favorites list with Pont-Neuf being in the top 100. So I'm a pretty big fan but... here's what I wrote after seeing it last August
Cinema. As I mentioned in another thread, I drove over an hour each way to see this - it was my most-anticipated film of the year so far, maybe the most-anticipated period (depending on what other films get meager distribution even remotely near me) and it was something of a disappointment, though as I love the director's previous films for the most part, I'll likely give it another chance at some point. It's the first film that he didn't write - the screenplay is credited to the composers, Ron and Russell Mael (AKA Sparks) - so perhaps that is part of the problem; not knowing the work of Sparks in particular, perhaps I'm just not attuned to their ethos, or perhaps as musicians and not, until now screenwriters, they just don't know how to put together a script that works. Don't know. In any case this is a rather long (139 m) musical about asshole comedian Henry (Adam Driver), his relationship with his wife, soprano Ann (Marion Cotillard), Ann's accompanist (Simon Helberg), and Ann and Henry's daughter Annette (played by a puppet) It's full of loads of cinematic allusions - to early cinema, to King Vidor (and the end of the silent era, and the 1930s in general), I think perhaps to Hitchcock at a couple of moments, it's got murder, it's got several obviously fake sets, it's got real Los Angeles, and the music is mostly pretty good, and it would seem to be the kind of film I would LOVE, but it just wasn't. Part of the problem is Henry who is just such an unpleasant character - and he's the only one of the major characters to appear throughout the film. Unpleasant can be OK - I love Margaret which is mostly full of people you wouldn't want to meet - but here it ends up fairly grating, and the narrative isn't particularly unusual or interesting enough - even if some of the visuals and many of the smaller plot elements are - for me to want to sit through it for almost 2 1/2 hours. Overall I'm glad I saw it, and I can say I liked it as a whole - it may have irritated at times, but it never bored, and the somewhat noirish direction it took in it's last act was a bit unexpected and interesting - but in the end this is the first Carax film (haven't seen Pola X yet to be fair) that hasn't completely worked for me.
Oh and I haven't listened to the podcast yet (and probably won't today or... well I don't know when), but I did want to comment for anybody who doesn't know my tastes that well that yes, I LOVE Jacques Demy - I think he is probably the greatest director in history who specialized in musicals - and I love musicals generally, as just a glance at my avatar or many of my lists will attest. I was just commenting elsewhere that 2021 saw FIVE English-language musicals that got wide releases in the USA - In the Heights, West Side Story, Annette, Dear Evan Hansen and Cyrano - and I've seen the first four of them, the first three in the cinema. I think this was the best year in terms of sheer numbers for the genre here since the 1970s; and none of them were successful commercially and only WSS was particularly critically acclaimed. The musical is still dead.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..