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Although I live in Minnesota, I have been studying in France lately and
came across this bizarre gem of a film.
This movie was amazing, to say the least. A creative and unique film, the different directors each lent something different to their interpretation of love in the City of Light. The first instinct is to attempt to fit each one of these little stories into an overall storyline, much as can be done with 2003's Love Actually. This attempt, however, renders the magic of each individual segment obsolete. When taken at face value, with each of the short segments taken as its own individual film, the love stories together tell a beautiful message.
The film is strikingly bizarre at times -- often to the point of confusion -- and each individual segment can be hard to follow. Still, to a watcher who pays close attention to each of the segments, the short plot lines become clear after a short time. The confusion is almost intriguing; it keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for what will come next. It leaves the viewer wondering "Did that really just happen?" yet also leaves them satisfied that it did, indeed, occur. It's the kind of movie where the viewer, upon leaving the theater, can't actually decide whether they loved it or they hated it. The initial reaction is to go and watch it again and again, just to see these individual lives blend together into a cinematic masterpiece.
The interesting decision to make the movie multilingual adds something to the spectrum of people who can relate. It adds to the reality of the film -- here, the American tourists speak English, the Parisians French, and so on. The number of people that the film encompasses leads to an understanding of the international language of love.
From sickness to the supernatural, the love of parents to the love of husbands, this film covers all the bases of romantic storytelling. In its beautiful and quirky way, each unique event somehow falls into place to tell a story: that of all types, sizes, nationalities, and shapes of love.
I was lucky enough to attend a screening in Stockholm for this
elegantly expressed, enjoyable, and thought-provoking film. With
romance as the heaviest weapon in its arsenal, Paris je t'aime boldly
plunges into love in Paris, navigating the different forms in eighteen
separate "quartiers" but without pouting Parisiennes and saccharine
formulas. Its goldmine undoubtedly stems from frustration on the
directors' parts frustration over only having 5-10 minutes of screen
time thereby you are only presented with the best and most assured
direction from each party.
Debating whether or not I should review all 18 segments, I reached the conclusion that it would be merely redundant and long-winded. Instead simply rest assured that each director graces the film with their eccentric styles and skills, and certainly you'll find your favourite. Although Gus Van Sant cannot resist the temptation to be introspective, his LES MARAIS is one of the better contributions, even sneaking in a well-placed Kurt Cobain reference. The Coen brothers recreate one of the more accessible segments in Paris, a scene with a muted but emotionally transparent Steve Buscemi, deadpan humour and clever camera angles that surely generated the most laughter in my theatre, and perhaps rightly so.
In this way, all story lines are exquisitely unique filtered through the minds of different directors but the one that deviates the most from the rest is Vincenzo Natali's QUARTIER DE LA MADELEINE, a dark horror-Gothic love starring Elijah Wood as a lost tourist in the backstreets of Paris in the night who meets a vampiress. With a black-and-white format but blood-red colour contrast that seems to incongruously bleed off screen, it nearly becomes a pastiche of Sin City a refreshing eerie and visual turn in an otherwise fairly grounded film.
Yet my single favourite segment was FAUBOURG SAINT-DENIS by Tom Tykwer but I think I was conditioned to think so, given that I went in the theatre with him as my favourite and nudged my friend in the side saying "finally, that's my favourite director here". Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that Tykwer delivers a lovely segment in which a blind boy picks up the phone, and hears from his girlfriend (Portman - for once not annoying) that she breaks up with him, and he reflects on their relationship. As is Tywker's style, the story is dizzyingly fast-paced, kinetic and repetitive, featuring screaming and running (Lola Rennt) making it the most adrenaline-pumping segment in Paris je t'aime and possibly also the most touching once Tywker starts wielding his most powerful tool music.
To fill the negative account, clearly not all directors manage as touching as Tywker, Van Sant, Cohens, Coixet and Dépardieu. Sylvain Chomet scrapes the bottom of the pile by carving out a truly disposable segment in which a little boy retells the story of how his parents met. They are two lonely mimes. This part is so in-your-face French and desperately quirky that it is insulting to international viewers. Suwa also directs a poor and fluffy segment with an unusually haggard-looking Juliette Binoche whom mourns the loss of her son. Nothing else happens. Finally, the wrap-up and interweaving of the 18 stories in the end feels somewhat rushed and half-hearted.
Yet Paris je t'aime truly spoils you with quality, for all the other stories are well-crafted with crisp acting and amusing writing. It is certainly one of the highlights of 2006 (not saying much, I suppose) and a very personal film in the sense that it is unavoidable to pick a favourite and a least favourite. Highly recommended both to mainstream of "pretentious" (heh) audiences.
8 out 10
Wasn't sure what to expect from this movie considering its amazing
collection of stars and directors but in the end it didn't disappoint.
For me one of the highlights was the final episode with the American tourist speaking with a dreadful French accent (which made me feel better about mine) which was actually quite touching and a great way to wrap up the movie.
The story of the paramedic and the stabbing victim was also very moving and for pure comedy the Coen Brothers and Steve Buscemi take the award. The Tom Tykwer clip was also impressive although rather ambitious in its scope.
However, the Bob Hoskins segment was totally cringeworthy and the vampire story was completely farcical. The dialogue in Wes Craven's section also felt very forced and the Chinatown story was completely incomprehensible.
On the whole this film is worth watching for the good bits and has a strong finish. It's not too painful to sit through the bad sections - they only last 5 minutes anyway.
Ca vaut la peine!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's not easy making a movie with 18 different stories in it. Although
18 different international directors took the challenge, not everyone
of them is good, some of them even boring. But in his entity, "Paris,
je t'aime" is breathtaking, showing that, as "Love Actually" put it,
'love is all around', especially in the city of love. Here's a resumé
(I'll try to make at as spoiler-free as possible) of the 18 different
MONTMARTRE - kind of a dull opening sequence, nothing really special about it. A man finds a parking spot, and sees a lot of odd couples walking by, wondering why he can't find a girl. And than, suddenly, a woman faints next to his car...
QUAIS DE SEINE - another dull sequence, about three teenage boys who are searching for some 'piece of ass', when suddenly a Muslim girl trips right in front of them, receiving help from one of the boys. Really basic, but with a sweet heart to it.
LES MARAIS - this was a huge disappointment! Although a love story between two boys with an artsy background could have been interesting by the great Van Sant. Eventually, everything that comes AFTER the monologue by Ulliel is good, everything before it is just annoying.
TUILERIES - an entertaining sequence by the Coen brothers. Buscemi - without even saying one word - is mesmerizing and the whole sequence is just hilarious. This one kept me hooked until the very end, and this one also gets you truly hooked to the movie.
LOIN DU 16IEME - a beautiful story too, even if the execution is poor, the heart is there. It's the story of an Hispanic woman who drops her child off, early in the morning, to take care of another suburban baby. Beautiful.
PORTE DE CHOISY - this segment has got to be the strangest and weirdest from the whole movie. Some kind of shampoo salesman arrives in a Chinatown-lookalike place in Paris. If I understood it correctly, the story is about inner beauty, but I think I'm wrong.
BASTILLE - a truly wonderful sequence. A man meets with his wife at a restaurant, to break up with her, so that he can run off with his mistress. But the wife has some devastating news. Pretty basic, but truly sad and beautiful! PLACE DES VICTOIRES - a sad sequence as well. Juliette Binoche plays a grieving mother. One night, she wakes up hearing her dead child. When she arrives at the location, a cowboy tells her she can give one last good-bye to her child. One of the best segments! TOUR EIFFEL - two mimes who fall in love could have been great, but, even though it has some nice cinematic tricks, the story isn't intriguing and not funny at all.
PARC MONCEAU - a truly original and great sequence, one of the best of the movie! A young girl and an older man discuss their future and her fear for a certain man... Cuaron does a great directing job, and the actors are amazing! QUARTIER DES ENFANTS ROUGES - an American actress (Gyllenhaal) falls in love with her drug dealer. a beautiful segment again, with a very sad ending PLACE DES FETES - a woman comes to a homeless man, he starts talking romantic to her... because she is the love of his life. Beautiful, sad, shocking, romantic,... Place des Fêtes will make everyone cry.
PIGALLE - a boring sequence between Ardant and Hoskins, who are looking for new thrills in their relationship... very unfunny and unromantic, Pigalle is a let-down.
QUARTIER DE LA MADELEINE - bringing some diversity in the movie, QdlM is a relief. A young guy (Wood) finds a vampire killing a victim... The tourist and the vampire... fall in love! Dark, scary and oddly romantic, Madeleine is superb.
PERE-LACHAISE - another let-down segment. Directed by Wes Craven and with stars as Mortimer and Sewell, it could have been great, but Père-Lachaise is just ordinary, not original at all.
FAUBOURG SAINT-DENIS - the rumors are TRUE, Twyker's short film is beautiful, stunning and well done. A blind man picks up the phone, and hears from his girlfriend (Portman - truly stunning) that she breaks up with him. He reflects on their relationship.
QUARTIER Latin - even though this segment has been co-directed by Depardieu and has such stars as Rowlands, Gazzara and Depardieu, this segment is a let-down too. Nothing happens, lack of chemistry between the actors.
14TH ARRONDISSEMENT - the last sequence is hilarious and sad at the same time. An American tells in her French class about her trip to Paris. Her French is truly terrible, but at the end of the segment, she realizes that Paris is so much more than meets the eye.
With Feist on the background, "Paris, je t'aime" ends in a sweet tone, not letting me down at all, even though some segments bored the hell out of me, the entity of the movie is great! A true cinematic experience for young and old. Paris, je t'aime vraiment!
I watched this movie a couple of days ago in a small independent cinema in Paris. It was my last evening in the French capital and the best good-bye I could have chosen. These twenty episodes made me relive the impressions I had collected in Paris in a heart-warming manner without drifting off into kitsch or sentimental schmaltz. Each episode is full of surprise, strong emotions and suggestive pictures and each short-film is directed according to the rules of a good short story. To me this kind of movie demands a lot more talent and qualities of a director and a story board writer than any epic two hours drama and all of them succeeded in their task excellently! The stories were chosen carefully with regard to their matching Arrondissement and express the respective flair perfectly. Each episode was seen from a different ankle, had a different topic, a different style and still the twenty stories result in a harmonic orchestra of films. The most outstanding advantage with the concept of an episode movie in my opinion is based in the fact that you can switch in between a large variety of feelings and moods without the danger of overload, just the other way round: the melange of sadness, melancholy, pure joy, despair, wrath, anxiety, curiosity or passion gives this movie a unique freshness and harmony. And not to forget the all over topic of love! Love between the characters, love between the characters and Paris and also the love of the directors and actors/actresses for this project. I don't want to go into the details of the episodes since there are so many, but I must highlight the range of world famous actors and actresses from all over the world and their approach to this project. Some played with their image, some broke it completely and some interpreted the stereotypes connected with their home country or the roles they had played before, so intertextuality was given all through the movie. All in all I can absolutely recommend this great collage and will be looking forward to its release on DVD.
The whole does not even come close to the sum of the parts. No problem. This film features a line-up of some of the most diversely creative directors of our time and some really famous names in the cast. The segments are devised around the same theme, "Love in Paris", but the resemblance ends there. Actually, considering that the approach to the theme from all these different directors takes so many forms, it is amazing that we can even feel we are still watching the same film. No great effort has been made to turn it into a comprehensive whole. This buffet has so many great ingredients, I am glad nobody tried to put them all in a single dish.
Just saw this tonight at a seminar on digital projection (shot on 35mm, and first feature film fully scanned in 6k mastered in 4k, and projected with 2k projector at ETC/USC theater in Hwd)..so much for tech stuff. 18 directors (including Alexander Payne, Wes Cravens, Joel and Ethan Coen, Gus Van Sant, Walter Salles and Gerard Depardieu, among several good French/ international directors) were each given 5 minutes to make a love story. They come in all shapes and forms, with known actors(Elijah Wood, Natalie Portman, Steve Buscemi ..totally hilarious..., Maggie Glyllenhall, Nick Nolte, Geena Rowlands ..soo good..and she actually wrote the piece she was in, Msr Depardieu and many good international actors as well. The stories vary from all out romance to quirky comedy to Alex Payne's touching study of a woman discovering herself to Van Sant and one of those things that happens anywhere..maybe? Nothing really off putting by having French spoken in most sequences (with English subtitles) and a small amount of actual English spoken, though that will probably relegate it to art houses (a la Diva.) Also only one piece that might be considered "experimental" but colorful and funny as well, the rest simple studies of sometimes complex relationships. All easy to follow (unless the "experimental" one irritates your desire for a formulaic story. Several brought up some emotions for me...I admit I am affected by love in cinema...when it is presented in something other than sentimentality. I even laughed at a mime piece, like no other I have seen (thank you for that!) The film hit its peak, for me, somewhere around a little more than half way through, then the last two sequences picked up again. Some beautiful shots of Paris at night, lush romantic kind of music, usually used to good effect, not just schmaltz for "emotions" in sound, generally good cinematography, though some shots seemed soft focus when it couldn't have meant to have been (main character in shot/scene). Pacing of each film was good, and overall structure, though a bit long (they left out two of what was to be 20 films, but said all would be on the DVD) seemed to vary between tones of the films to keep a good balance. Not sure when it comes out, but a good study of how to make a 5 min film work..and sometimes, what doesn't work (if it covers too much time, emotionally, for a short film.) Should be in region one when released, but they didn't know when.
A smorgasbord of talent. Twenty glimpses of Paris - its different
suburbs. High quality shorts masterfully united.
A veiled woman intrigues us to the beauty beneath her hijab. Gus Van Sant delights with a flirtation between two young boys (and with a surprise revelation). Steve Buscemi's mind-boggling tourist guide accompanies him through a surreal Coen Brothers encounter in the Metro. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets stoned off her face preparing for an acting role. Bob Hoskins hangs out in sleazy Pigalle. Elijah Wood discovers his inner vampire. Oscar Wilde's burial place inspires one humourless would-be bridegroom and saves his relationship. Tom Tykwer takes us running through the streets of Saint-Denis with a blind man in love. Gérard Depardieu is a bartender and a host of other stars and directors charm us with strange and original tales of love in the city of love itself.
These vignettes are a whirlwind tour of the heart of each arrondissement, but they focus on Frenchness, or Parisienness rather than over-exploiting famous landmarks . . . which makes it all the more fun recognising the locales. The quality is superb - each short film is almost a masterclass - but the overall effect can be weariness. Such a torrent of shorts leaves no room to develop an overall momentum, however skilfully knitted together. Each touches our emotions in different ways. Yet it is like nibbling for nearly two hours in the kitchens of the best chefs. At the end we are exhausted and hungry.
The concept of Paris Je t'Aime is a beautiful one. This film is a permanent and worthy homage to the great city. But as cinema it seems sadly unsatisfying.
Greetings again from the darkness. 18 directors of 18 seemingly
unrelated vignettes about love in the city of lights. A very unusual
format that takes a couple of segments to adjust to as a viewer. We are
so accustomed to character development over a 2 hour movie, it is a bit
disarming for that to occur in an 8 minute segment.
The idea is 18 love/relationship stories in 18 different neighborhoods of this magnificent city. Of course, some stand up better than others and some go for comedy, while others focus on dramatic emotion. Some very known directors are involved, including: The Coen Brothers, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Alexander Payne, Gus Van Sant and Gurinda Chadha. Many familiar faces make appearances as well: Steve Buscemi, Barbet Schroeder, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands, Gerard Depardieu, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Nick Nolte, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Bob Hoskins.
One of the best segments involves a mime, and then another mime and the nerdy, yet happy young son of the two mimes. Also playing key roles are a red trench coat, cancer, divorce, sexual fantasy, the death of a child and many other topics. Don't miss Alexander Payne (director of "Sideways") as Oscar Wilde.
The diversity of the segments make this interesting to watch, but as a film, it cannot be termed great. Still it is very watchable and a nice change of pace for the frequent movie goer.
Delightful film directed by some of the best directors in the industry
today. The film is also casting some of the great actors of our time,
not just from France but from everywhere.
My favorite segments:
14th arrondissement: Carol (Margo Martindale), from Denver, comes to Paris to learn French and also to make a sense of her life.
Montmartre: there was probably not a better way to start this movie than with this segment on romantic Paris.
Loin du 16ème: an image of Paris that we are better aware of since the riots in the Cités. Ana (Catalina Sandino Moreno) spends more time taking care of somebody else's kid (she's a nanny) than of her own.
Quartier Latin: so much fun to see Gérard Depardieu as the "tenancier de bar" with Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara discussing their divorce.
Tour Eiffel: don't tell me you didn't like those mimes!
Tuileries: such a treat to see Steve Buscemi as the tourist who's making high-contact (a no- no) with a girl in the Metro.
Parc Monceau: Nick Nolte is great. Ludivine Sagnier also.
I've spend 3 days in Paris in 2004 and this movie makes me want to go back!
Seen in Barcelona (another great city), at the Verdi, on March 18th, 2007.
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