Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Je T'aime Paris Je T'aime

Paris Je T'aime
A Film Collective Directed by (in alphabetical order)
Olivier Assayas (segment "Quartier des Enfants Rouges")
Frédéric Auburtin and Gérard Depardieu (segment "Quartier Latin") (transitions)
Emmanuel Benbihy (transitions)
Gurinder Chadha (segment "Quais de Seine")
Sylvain Chomet (segment "Tour Eiffel")
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (segment "Tuileries")
Isabel Coixet (segment "Bastille")
Wes Craven (segment "Père-Lachaise")
Alfonso Cuarón (segment "Parc Monceau")
Christopher Doyle (segment "Porte de Choisy")
Richard LaGravenese (segment "Pigalle")
Vincenzo Natali (segment "Quartier de la Madeleine")
Alexander Payne (segment "14th arrondissement")
Bruno Podalydès (segment "Montmartre")
Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas (segment "Loin du 16ème")
Oliver Schmitz (segment "Place des Fêtes")
Nobuhiro Suwa (segment "Place des Victoires")
Tom Tykwer (segment "Faubourg Saint-Denis")
Gus Van Sant (segment "Le Marais")

I finally had time to go see Paris Je T'aime, the film collective with all the above directors, and many many many actors including Natalie Portman, Fanny Ardant, Bob Hoskins, Nick Nolte, Ludivine Sagnier, Elijah Wood, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gaspard Ulliel, Marianne Faithfull, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Miranda Richardson, Juliette Binoche (above), Gerard Depardieu, Rufus Sewell, Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands, Emily Mortimer, Willem Dafoe and Steve Buscemi, just to name a few.

Each short focuses on a different neighbourhood in Paris, and the shorts cover stories of love, loss, heartache, life and even one with vampires and another hilarious one with mimes. It's about the workings of Paris as a city, and the urban intricacies of people, and our universal love for the city of lights and l'amour. Some of the shorts don't work as well as others, but even the worse ones aren't that bad and since they are short, are over soon. They are off-set by some FANTASTIC shorts though, that balance the film as a whole and linger on beyond their 5-7 minutes.

Usually, the simplest ones work best, and the film starts off strong with Oliver Assayas (Clean) Quartier des Enfants Rouges as we watch a bitter man become romantic again, and Gurinder Chadha's (Bend It Like Beckham) lovely Quais de Seine which follows the blossoming love between two young Parisians, one of old heritage with Cyril Descours as François (below with his buddies), a young blonde frenchman, and one of the new France, with Leïla Behkti as Zarka (above), a beautiful French-Muslim girl.

While Gus Van Sant's (Elephant) Le Marais doesn't seem to make complete sense (why wouldn't Eli (Elias McConnell) say something?), it is still extremely cute watching Gaspard (Gaspard Ulliel) banter and attempt to flirt away with Eli.

Seydoo Boro and Aïssa Maïga as Hassan and Sophie are heartbreaking in Oliver Schmitz's Place des Fêtes.

The little boy (Martin Combes) is SOOOO cute in the surprisingly funny Tour Eiffel by director Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville) about the boys parents (who happen to be mimes).

Poor Steve Buscemi learns the hard way why the Mona Lisa is the way she is, in the Tuileries metro station (directed by Ethan and Joel Coen (Fargo))

The lovely Catarina Sandino Moreno is Ana, mother of a newborn who must make the long trek from her impoverished section of Paris to become nanny to a baby of a higher class Parisian in Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas' Loin du 16ème.

The star powered shorts, including Nick Nolte and Ludivine Sagnier in Alfonso Cuaron's (Y Tu Mama Tambien) Parc Monceau, Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara in Quartier Latin, and Fanny Ardant and Bob Hoskins in Pigalle, and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Quartier des Enfants Rouges, and Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell in Père-Lachaise, are all wonderful little feasts that range from different styles and moods, becoming a small tasting sample of the wonders of film.

I didn't mind Vincenzo Natali's (Cube) horror short Quartier de la Madeleine starring Elijah Wood, but Natalie Portman in Faubourg Saint-Denis by Tom Tykwer fell slightly short of expectations.

Still, the film wraps up finally with probably the best short of the collection. Alexander Payne's 14th arrondissement starring character actress Margo Martindale (one of those, where have I seen her before? actresses) as a typical American tourist whose soul is touched by Paris. It's sad and funny and heartbreaking and freeing all at the same time and this short alone is worth the price of admission. It ends the entire film nicely after seeing the beauties and horrors of Paris. We still always fall in love with Paris as the city falls in love with us, every single time.

Overall: Paris Je T'aime = A- or 9/10

Here is the US Trailer for Paris Je T'aime

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