Sunday, July 15, 2007

Paris Je T'Aime

I don't have a lot to say about this movie: I had read a few reviews from the usual suspects and had high expectations, but was ultimately not well pleased. The reason, however, is an unusual one. The film was actually 18 segments, all by different directors, with different casts, in different parts of Paris - like a filmic version of a collection of short stories. The general theme was "love, Paris style". Unlike a volume of short stories, however, when you're sitting in the theatre, you can't pause, you can't replay, you can't get up and have a drink. With a normal movie, you get embedded in the story, the characters and its all good. But having the equivalent of 18 short movies play in the same time was just a bit too relentless. I think when the DVD comes out, I'll have a better chance to think about each piece.

I don't have any problem with the quality of any of them: as I was watching, I was thinking that each could stand alone as a short film. But just 24 hours later, I'm having trouble with separating the various stories in my mind, and who played in which piece. Of course, some do stay in the mind. One had Steve Buscemi, playing yet another bewildered character. He's sitting in a Metro
station, reading his guide book, and every so often his eyes stray to the young couple making out across on the other platform. The guy gets up and mouths off at Buscemi: suddenly the girl is next to him, and it is Buscemi and the girl making out, in a fairly involuntary way on his part. Then the guy is in his face giving him a beating: the couple then wander off, making it clear that the whole thing has been a game they've been playing. poor old Buscemi doesn't utter a word.

A similar sort of bewilderment captures a young French guy working with a printing press. They've had some Americans come to visit - as they leave, this young American guy comes over to the French one, clearly smitten with him, gives his number, says how much it has meant to him being there and so on. After they've gone, the French guy is all "what was that about, I don't understand a word, I only speak French". Another with the formal "twist in the tale" you expect from a short story involved this older guy and a youngish woman - the way they were talking to each other, you'd think they were lovers, trying to get a bit of freedom away from her ball and chain of a husband. Not quite. There were a couple of quite strange ones: a hair product salesman who gets caught up with a Chinese run hairdresser - I'm tempted to think that there was a point to this one, but don't know what it was. It seems to end well:
Then there was Elijah Wood and the vampiress - done in Sin City black and white with red red blood - and the instant love between them. How does a vampiress show her love?

There were some very sweet tales of love as well:
The movie starts with a long-term lovelorn fellow, fighting for a parking space then finding a woman fainted outside his car. He's all gallant and saves the day. The young guy getting more and more pissed off with his mates cat-calling to any woman who walks past, except for the young Muslim: she they insult. But the young guy likes her, actually talks to her, and then her grandfather - mutual respect all round. The soon-to-be husband who can't make his soon-to-be wife laugh and doesn't get anything about her (how they came to be together, we'll never know) but who is inspired by the ghost of Oscar Wilde ("come back to my room and I'll give you something to laugh about" seems to do the trick).



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