The dream life
Demonlover glued itself into my personal Top Ten Films on sight, and the only things in Olivier Assayas’s film now showing its seventeen-year vintage are the CGI pneumatic babes in bikinis described as the entertainment wave of the future—which indeed they were, although these primitives look like something from the fossil record. The rest of it makes a lot of other socially conscious left-ish film making, with its dreaded cause and effect and logic, seem too timid to get the job done at a time when the dust of 9/11 was still settling somewhere over the horizon.
So having started as a drama with Connie Nielsen striding around in power-suits and held on as long as possible, Demonlover stops making sense halfway through as a shorthand for all the nasty unreality brewing in every corner of commerce and culture and life. The standard theories are that this makes it the only Assayas film to really show his liking for Videodrome, which is true; and that he never went back to this approach again, which is more dubious. Carlos looks a pretty kindred spirit to me, just dealing with the weirdness of politics and violence rather than money and media. The “Endings” column in June’s Sight & Sound magazine is a piece by me about Demonlover’s final scene, which can’t really be described without writing about the rest of it too.
The same June issue also has me reviewing Holy Lands, a well intentioned film with tidal waves of sentiment, featuring James Caan and many voice-over speeches about old age and paternal anxiety and Israel’s appetite for pork. It decides that tolerance and love might have to coexist with instinctive prejudice, superseding it rather than erasing or reprogramming it; an almost radically humanist thought for a current film, in this case peeping out from under a substantial amount of sugar.