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Holy Motors at the Crest Theatre: The Heart of Sacramento!

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The Sacramento Press, and other local news sources, have a habit of focusing on Downtown’s stretch of K Street – or is it “The Kay” now? And most of that focus goes towards what club, bar, or restaurant has most recently opened, closed, been remodeled, or gone on the market. But one of the few long-term survival stories in the annals of K Street business is the Crest Theatre.

A theater in some form or other has been in that location for 100 years and the Crest, operating under that name but different management entities, has been there for more than 60. Which, in this author’s opinion at least, is more noteworthy on that street than whether or not cars can drive past a mermaid this year.

It’s an under-appreciated asset to the community – but not one that goes unnoticed elsewhere. On Wednesday of this week, a group of ten people arrived to see “Somewhere Between” (reviewed here last week). Groups of 10 are somewhat unusual to begin with, but this group had apparently chartered a plane from Santa Rosa and then a limousine from Sacramento Executive Airport, purely to see that film at the Crest. And a quick glance at the film’s own website helps us understand why – the Crest is the only theatre listed as screening the film west of (approximately)the Mississippi. And that’s what the Crest does best – it brings us things that we wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

But certainly some in the community notice and appreciate the Crest, including a loyal fanbase and subscribers to the Crest’s mailing list, eager to know what film and events, most of which can’t be found anywhere else, are coming next. And the Crest plays host to multiple recurring film festivals and was honored this year by the Sacramento Arts & Business Council for its partnership with those many varied cultural events.

Which brings me to the film in the title of this column: “Holy Motors.” It wowed audiences at Cannes this year and it’s being presented by the Crest in association with the Sacramento French Film Festival, one part of that multi-faceted set of partnerships that goes back over a decade. The French Film Festival has a long standing practice of co-presenting unique and hard to find films at the Crest and then providing insightful question and answer sessions for audiences – and this is the latest in that series.

The film itself is enigmatic and features a lead character “Mr. Oscar” who switches between roles throughout the course of a day. It has been variously described as a story about a man drifting between parallel lives and as a story about an actor taking on separate parts – but the title might also suggest something more spiritual in nature and there are song lyrics in evidence that suggest the reliving of past moments. It’s an unusual film to watch, given that we’re so used to strict narrative forms, most typically in a clear three act structure, and “Holy Motors” feels more experimental in nature. What it certainly presents is a stunning example of multi-role acting from lead Denis Lavant, a long-time collaborator with writer/director Leos Carax. (If this was remade in English by a Hollywood director, the film would almost certainly become far more conventional and less intriguing, and would most likely star Andy Serkis.)

But if you’d like to know more you can see the film, as it just opened. And if you’d like to know a lot more, you can attend the screening that will be followed by a question and answer session, hosted by the French Film Festival, on Saturday, December 15th at 7:45pm.

And if you go to this screening or another film or event, my advice is to fill out one of the forms in the lobby and join the Crest’s email list – or “like” them on facebook at “Crest Sacramento” – or you’re likely to miss something special.
 

About the author

Tony Sheppard

Tony Sheppard

Tony is a Professor at Sacramento State, Co-Director of the Sacramento Film & Music Festival and a long-time writer, primarily on topics related to film and the film industry. He is an active supporter of the local arts community, an amateur photographer, and has an interest in architecture and urban planning topics. He is currently designing a 595 sq.ft. house on a very small infill lot in Sacramento.

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