||[Jun. 14th, 2007|10:18 pm]
It's been a while since I reviewed a movie, so here we go:
Paris, Je T'Aime
18 of the worlds finest directors and take turns delighting the audience with this multi-faceted exploration of the true city of love. Each scene is between 5 and 10 minutes long and focuses on a specific district of Paris, the end result of which is two hours of heart-warming French intimacy, American indie dark comedy and some truly heart-breaking depcitions of love throughout.
Watching this film is an utter delight. It is quite simply one of the single greatest pieces of cinema I have ever seen. A series of distinctly seperate short films woven together to create an absolutely startling film.
The scenes we are treated to include, in no particular order:
- a very touching and almost spiritual encounter in "Le Marais" by Gus Van Saint
- the violent dark comedy of Coen Brothers with their segment "Tuileries" in which Steve Buscemi is an hilariously out of his depth american tourist experiencing the joys of accidentally making eye contact on the Parisien Metro,
- an absolutely heart-breaking depiction of love and loss in Isabel Coixet's segment on the "Bastille"
- Willem Dafoe as a biblical cowboy coming to the aid of the always incredible Juliette Binoche in Nobuhiro Suwa's "Place des Victoires"
- a hilarious story of two mime artists in Sylvain Chomet's "Tour Eiffel"
- a small but affecting tale of family love (featuring a brilliant performance from Nick Nolte) in Alfonso Cuaron's "Parc Monceau"
- the delightful Bob Hoskins (I really do love Bob Hoskins) acting out his sexual and romantic fantasies in Richard LaGravenese's "Pigalle"
- a young couple arguing over the importance of laughter and love, leading to realisation with the help of Alexander Payne as Oscar Wilde in Wes Craven's "Père-Lachaise"
- a spooky erotic horror story with Elijah Wood falling in love with a seductive vampiress in Vincenzo Natali's Quartier de la Madeleine
- a magnificent near-perfect tale of love between Natalie Portman's american actress and Melchior Beslon's blind french student in Tom Tykwer's "Faubourg Saint-Denis"
- and the single most moving scene in recent years in Alexander Payne's brilliant "14e arrondissement"
Several times throughout this movie I was choking back the tears. The final segment (the Alexander Payne one) pushed me right over the edge and the tears were literally streaming down my face. Payne is a fantastic director. I adored Sideways and About Schmidt and I now look forward to almost anything he releases. The same can be said for Sylvain Chomet who brings the same charm and originality that made Les Triplettes De Belleville so damn good to his brilliant tale of the ups and downs of a street-performing mime artist. That scene was absolutely hilarious.
With each scene being so short, sometimes you are given only a glimpse into the lives of the characters and are left to build a suitable narrative of your own for what happens next. But it has to be said that the best scenes are the ones which are the most fully-formed like Chomet's, Payne's and Coixet's. But to be honest, I could have watched an entire full length movie version of the "Faubourg Saint-Denis" segment, and there is actually a slightly longer version of this to be found somewhere else. Natalie Portman and Melchior Beslon are absolutely perfect and Tom Tykwer's direction is incredible. Why don't people pay more attention to this man's movies? Run Lola Run is easily one of the best movies of the 90s, Perfume: Story Of A Murderer is really quite brilliant and this short is easily the equal of the two.
I really can't say enough about this film. Every director is working with their greatest skills on show and they all seem to draw the best performances from their respective actors. It's just incredible. It, importantly, captures and distills everything about Paris; the romance, the history, the gothic beauty, not to mention the bad points such as the dangerous dark alleys, the poverty, the racial tension and discrimination and the needless gang violence. It also deals with every aspect of love from lust and desire to loneliness, longing and loss and responsibility. In a word, it's perfect.