DVD reviews: Holy Motors | Jack Irish: Bad Debts and Black Tide

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Alistair Harkness gives his take on the week’s DVDs

Holy Motors (Artificial Eye, £15.99)

Baffling, bizarre and brilliant, Leos Carax’s latest film Holy Motors is a tribute to the strange power that cinema has to enchant, confuse, tell the truth and flat out lie. Revolving around a day in the life of a performer (Denis Lavant) as he is chauffeured around Paris between various acting “jobs”, the film plays like a behind-the-scenes take on a reality show for which there are no cameras and no discernable audience.

It’s at once weird and oddly representative of the personas we adopt on a daily basis to get through life, especially now that we live in a surveillance culture where it has become the norm to accept that our every move is probably being tracked and photographed . Here, Lavant’s sheer range (he plays 11 characters) adds to the fun; scenes that we think are closer to the reality of Monsieur Oscar’s life are revealed to be jobs, while some of his more absurd encounters are presented as if they’re his actual life. Carax bolsters this with multiple cinematic reference points and unusual casting choices that help transform the film into heady celebration of its own beautiful strangeness.

Jack Irish: Bad Debts & Black Tide (Arrow Films, £19.99)

Proof that TV around the world is becoming more and more attractive to movie stars is evident in Jack Irish, an Australian-made detective vehicle for Guy Pearce. Comprising two feature-length stories, the first film, Bad Debts, introduces us to Irish (Pearce), a former criminal lawyer with tragedy in his past who now works as a debt collector while putting his legal instincts to use as a part-time private-eye.

An enjoyably dark and convoluted plot keeps the story rattling along, but the real pleasures are in the rich character details he’s been furnished with: a famous sports star father he never knew, a collection of geriatric Aussie rules football fans for drinking buddies, an interest in horse racing and carpentry, and a remarkable ability to deliver exposition while getting hot-and-heavy with women.

All this gives Pearce plenty of scope to play around with the tropes of the hard-boiled detective. The second film, Black Tide, carries over characters and relationships, but plunges Irish into a new case, one that threatens to cause his barely-held-together life to unravel even further. It’s a promising start to what could become a long-running series.

• To order these DVDs, call The Scotsman on 01634 832789