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This Week at the Movies

'Paranormal Activity 4' is the last gasp of the found footage genre, while 'The Sessions' features great performances and 'Holy Motors' is a work of demented genius.

This Week at the Movies

I feel the same way about “Paranormal Activity 4” as I do this year’s presidential election – please, someone, bring it to an end.

At some point, you have to call it quits. I think I survived the first few “Saws” before throwing in the towel and I’m at that point with the “Paranormal Activity” pictures.

The first was creepy enough and helped to revive the found footage genre that has since run haywire. The sequels have been mostly uninspiring, especially the fourth entry, which finds the series on its last, wobbly legs.

In the film, a teenage girl and her family are plagued with swinging chandeliers, bumpy noises and a creepy little kid, who might or might not be the child kidnapped at the end of the second film. He lives across the street with his mother, who may or may not be the possessed kidnapper.

If you are scared by endless loops of video footage in which nothing happens for minutes at a time only to culminate with a slightly moved object or loud thump, then “PA4” could be the movie for you.

If not, I’m sure you could make an endless list of more interesting ways to engage yourself, such as putting together a Halloween costume for your pet.

I’d call “The Sessions” a feel-good movie, but it’s often a little too sad for that categorization. It’s also an acting showcase for John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.

In this true story, Hawkes is Mark O’Brien, a 38-year-old poet in an iron lung who decides to lose his virginity with the aid of a sex therapist (Hunt). Macy plays the priest who is, at first, torn on whether to give the go-ahead to O’Brien, but decides the idea is a good one.

Hawkes is confined in one way or another throughout the course of the film due to O’Brien’s condition. Despite the lack of movement, it’s a tricky and physical performance that the actor manages to pull off with a surprising amount of good humor and grace. Hunt gives her best performance in years.

“The Sessions” is frank without being crass and emotionally satisfying without being overtly sentimental. Expect some nominations during the upcoming awards season.

Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors,” a Cannes Film Festival favorite last spring, is easily the most unclassifiable and outright bizarre movie I’ve seen this year – but in a good way.

I can’t exactly say what the film is about and I’d defy anyone else to offer an explanation. And yet “Holy Motors” contains sequences of brilliance, outrageousness, great humor, poignancy and utter absurdity.

At the beginning, an audience of moviegoers stares at us. The director himself is seen awaking on a bed in a mostly empty room. He discovers a key, finds his way into the cinema with the audience and watches as a movie unfolds.

Suddenly, we are thrown into the world of Monsieur Oscar (Leos Carax was born Alexandre Oscar Dupont. In his early films, his lead character was often named Alex. In this case, it’s Oscar), who is played by Denis Lavant.

He sits in the back of a limo as his chauffeur (Edith Scob, of the classic “Eyes Without a Face”) drives him to a series of “appointments” throughout the course of a day.

Oscar dons various costumes, disguises, wigs and makeup as he plays various roles at his “appointments,” such as an elderly beggar lady, a dying old man, a monstrous troll from the sewer who wreaks havoc, an assassin and the father of an awkward teenage girl.

Several of these sequences are standouts, including one in which Oscar wears a glow in the dark body suit and performs various acrobatics in a dark room with a female companion and another with musical numbers in which he and Kylie Minogue recall lost love.

The best, hands down, is the one in which Oscar emerges from the sewer as a troll-like man with a fake eye and weird orange hair, kidnaps a model (Eva Mendes) and takes her to his underground lair. This sequence is freakishly grotesque and often hilarious.

Oh, and then there’s the scene with the family of apes. And the one in which some parked cars discuss their drivers.

So, what does it all mean? You got me. But the film plays as an entire life lived in one day in which a man plays the hero, villain, father, lover - you name it – just any ordinary person plays a variety of roles in the course of a lifetime.

And Carax toys with the notion of the spectator and the fading away of the movies as an art form that brings people together. A character played by the legendary Michel Piccoli asks Oscar why he continues day by day to take on his various roles. “The beauty of the act,” Oscar replies.

His limo guest reminds him that beauty is in the eye of the bolder to which Oscar replies, “But what if there is no more beholder?”

For the adventurous moviegoers thinking of giving “Holy Motors” a try, don’t go expecting any answers. But those willing to give themselves over to this delirious movie will certainly find something to chew on.

“Paranormal Activity 4” is playing at Midway Theater on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.

“The Sessions” is screening at Manhattan’s Angelika Film Center, while “Holy Motors” is at the Film Forum.

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