Paris 60 (2012) Poster


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A treat for cinema nuts but not a film that most others would enjoy.
MartinHafer17 April 2014
Paris 60 is a very strange film. It certainly doesn't seem to have much in the way of commercial appeal and I cannot imagine most viewers even watching the film in the first place. However, despite being a film with limited appeal, it sure speaks volumes about the writer and director, Tony Ukpo. It's obvious that he's seen a lot of French films from the 1960s and the film is an obvious homage to the New Wave pictures by the likes of Godard and particularly Resnais. So, to fully appreciate Ukpo's film, you need to be familiar with these other films. Heck, even most French people today probably aren't that familiar with these films!

Paris 60 is like a documentary about the making of a film merged with the New Wave style. The film is mostly in black & white, the font used for the titles looks right from the 1960s, the camera focusing on irrelevant objects as people talk, the dancing woman during the credits, the way some of the characters talk and act like they would in such a picture and the film does not appear conventional in any way…just like a New Wave film! The self-exploration is pure Resnais as is the Japanese- American lady who talks of the evils of nuclear war and Hiroshima (much like in Resnais' film Hiroshima Mon Amour). Again and again and again I found myself saying 'wow…he's really got the style down in this movie'. Additionally, while similar to a New Wave film, it was interesting that the character of the director looked a lot like Ukpo—and even used his middle name, Sebastian. And, Sebastian began talking as if it was Ukpo himself revealing himself to the audience. It's all very strange, somewhat surreal and a nice homage to the genre.

To me, the most interesting thing, however, isn't the style but the fact that the film cost about $170 in US dollars! The film looks so polished and so interesting…and was made for almost nothing. Heck, I've seen much larger budgeted films that looked more cheaply made. So, instead of filming in Paris, it was made in London. And, instead of big-name actors and sets, it was done in a very natural setting. I thought it was lovely—and I am sure that other insane film nuts like me will also enjoy it. But, the film is talky, strange and not at all what the average person would watch. I just hope the right people see this and give Mr. Ukpo giant piles of cash so we can see what he can do with it.

By the way, if I sound positive about this film, wait until you read my review of his film "The Fighter's Ballad"—now that is something special indeed.
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Referencing without adding much except limitations
bob the moo28 April 2014
A casting director is looking forward to reunited with a woman he considers to be his true love, but at the same time he is working on his job for the small pay but creative satisfaction that it gives him. He is casting some films, trying to satisfy the visions of the directors and writers who make up his employers and, while we learn more of his story, we also naturally wander through the people and situations that he comes into contact with. The whole thing is delivered in black and white, and although we are in modern London and not Paris of the 1960's, the delivery is in the style of the French new wave cinema, complete with French narration.

Up front it is worth me saying that although I have seen some of the films whose style, approach and content is referenced here, I am not knowledgeable on them to the point where more detailed references or points would hit home with me and, as such, perhaps the issue here was that Paris 60 was not aimed at me as its audience. I usually don't like the "you just don't get it" argument, but I am willing to concede that there will be part of that in my feelings for this film. This is the second film from Tony Ukpo I have seen where the thrust of it seems to be a reference to other films and filmmakers. The first was his section of a Mystery Train homage (a short called Fish) and in that film I felt he offered very little of his own and seemed to reference too much, pretty much just highlighting how much better the original was.

Unfortunately I got the same feeling here. Instead of taking the ideas and concepts and making them into their own thing, Paris 60 seems stuck and doesn't offer much of its own. The rambling approach is fine and at times I was more than happy to go with it and see what it did, but mostly it offered nothing more than doing something because it felt like it fitted into the reference points. An example is the overly long title sequence of a girl dancing in her flat, but it can also be seen in some other long natural dialogue sequences where they just don't work – or at least don't work to be taking up so much time. By contrast scenes such as the audition do work because they contain interesting material and good delivery, but this is in the minority.

To give the film its dues, it does capture the feel of the genre (is it a genre or a school of filmmaking?) and it looks pretty good doing it. This is additionally impressive if the shooting budget of £100 listed on IMDb is to be believed because it speaks again to Ukpo's ambition to get things done and not be restricted by resources. Unfortunately while visually things are kept good, the sound is awful throughout. In some scenes you can get away with it but in others it is really choppy and badly done; again I'm not sure if the goal was to leave that natural sound but if so it comes at a price. Attempts to fix this are also poor – the scene between the Japanese lady and the journalist must have been unusable but the ADR is not great either. All part of the limited resources I'm sure, but it is not a film to expect great sound from. Performances are equally limited and variable – the two in that scene in particular (Halliday and Higashi, although the ADR hurts more than anything else) but generally the standard is variable. The actress giving the audition is very engaging, as indeed is the guy playing the central character, but too often I didn't feel for the people as actors in the fictional parts or in front of the camera is sections that felt more like documentary style filming.

I remain interested in Ukpo as a director because he does seem to be someone keen to make things happen and determined not to be limited by resources, but Paris 60 is too much about aping the style of others and not enough about delivering something of his own or something that would play to even the reasonably informed casual viewer. The technical limits are part of this, but had the film been stronger I would not have cared so much about issues such as the poor sound. Paris 60 is a niche film but not in the way that it is meant. It is not strong enough to play to those that know new wave cinema inside and out and it is too niche to play to a wider casual audience, instead it will play best to those interested in Ukpo's films in particular, and a wider audience of those involved with him and his films – which is fortunate as this audience will know the reality of making it and will no doubt be more forgiving.
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