Erick Neher at The Hudson Review:
“I’m a storyteller” is a common self-description for virtually everyone in the film industry these days, from directors and scenarists to publicists and marketers. The phrase is a quintessential humble-brag. It carries a sense of modesty: “I may have a profoundly intricate knowledge of my craft, but at heart I’m no different from the people spinning a good yarn for their kids.” But it also holds a whiff of epic continuity, placing the speaker in a line that reaches back to Homer, and beyond that to the nameless bards who first narrativized our species into civilization. All to say: the phrase has passed through ubiquity to become an increasingly mocked cliché. Which is why it was so refreshing to hear the French director Leos Carax say in a recent interview with the New York Times, “I’m not a storyteller.” He’s right. He’s a poet, a provocateur, an artist—but anyone attending a Carax movie expecting narrative coherence, character logic, or shapely story arcs will be sadly disappointed. “I try to compose emotional scores, like movements that flow into minor and major keys,” Carax continued. And indeed his films, including his latest, Annette, have more in common with modern music than they do with theater or literature.