Saturday, December 29, 2007

Paris je t'aime

Paris je t'aime (Various directors, 2007) [5]
Compilation films are almost never really that good and this film is another example. It wants to have one connecting feature, all stories revolving around different areas of Paris, but when you get 20 different directors bringing their own vision the film can't help but get off message. What was surprising to me was how poor overall many of the shorts were. Out of the twenty, most were bad to mediocre, a couple had some salvageable moments, and only two were exceptionally strong. The Sowa and Craven had some good moments but were pretty much blah. Twyker was Twyker, meaning his kinetic style and heavy hand allow me not to like a good story. I just don't know what to make of the Coen Brothers short; it has some humor but reflecting on it later, it seems too mean and odd compared to the rest. It's a disjointing film that really has no place in the greater structure of the film. Plus, it seems a little cheap. One of the two shorts I liked most was the one by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas starring Catalina Sadino Moreno. It digs a little deeper than the others, dealing with immigration, and it really works because it's not cluttered with cutesy expressions or bossy narration like some of the others. Salles and Thomas keep the focus on the daily tasks of Moreno's character, having to deal with her own child as well being nanny to a wealthy French family. It's told simply and yet it's still powerful. The real saving grace of the entire project is Alexander Payne's film, which if it stood alone could be considered one of the best films of the year. His story of a Denver mailwoman, learning French and heading to Paris alone, starts off as feeling it could prime for mocking. But Payne turns this on its head instead creating a film where by taking this trip, it becomes a journey of reflection for a woman who was all too easy into making a one-dimensional character. The trip to Paris, of being alone and taking a chance, brings out all the loneliness in this woman but also creates a joy in her of being someplace she's never been before. Seeing her discovery is a rewarding experience for the viewer as well as herself. It's careful touch and depth are just so out of character from some of the other ones, it's hard to believe but still refreshing to me that a little something could be salvaged from this collaboration.

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