Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Other Paris

We've really been enjoying the art cinema that is close by. It seems to be our Friday evening 'go-to', assuming they're something showing that we haven't seen.

Last night's fare was "Paris, Je T'aime", a collaborative indie film of 20 separate vignettes, directed by 18 different directors and featuring an ensemble cast including the likes of Natalie Portman, Gena Rowlands, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Gyllenhall, Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, Emily Mortimer and a few other familiar and unfamiliar faces.

The real star of the film was Paris, the City of Lights. Each of the 5-8 minute vignettes featured a different district of Paris as its setting. Most of the film was in French, with English subtitles, while a bit of it was in English.

The vignettes ranged from the mundane to the outrageous, from comical to sad. Some were very poignant, some dramatic, some just showed us a small, uneventful window into a life. All were entertaining to some level, some much more than others.

Probably my favorites, the ones I found most touching and though-provoking were:

(1) the vignette featuring Juliette Binoche as a mother who had lost a young son and was openly grieving for him. She conjured up a cowboy, previously her little boy's fantasy friend, to help her cope with the loss. It only lasted a few minutes, but I was in tears by the end of it, and it was beautifully done, and

(2) a vignette featuring an actress whose name I did not know. She played a young mother, getting up very early in the morning, taking her baby to daycare, singing him a song to calm him before she left. Before dawn, she caught what seemed like 9 buses, a train, a subway and several other forms of transportation to arrive at work on time -- to take care of another woman's baby, in a wealthy French neighborhood. As she sang the same song to the other woman's baby, she thought of her own child she'd just left across town. I found it to be a thought-provoking scene, a window into society and culture, all done in 5 or 6 minutes, with little to no dialogue. Kudos to the director on that piece.

Less impressive was the vignette featuring Emily Mortimer and her fiance in a Paris cemetary. The piece was just okay, but I do like Emily Mortimer very much. I thought she was terrific in Woody Allen's "Match Point", and I think she'll go on to do some great work. It was nice to see her in this ensemble cast.

So, while I probably wouldn't run out to see this flick again, I did enjoy it and was glad we went. It certainly beats more commercial crap like 'Spider Man' and 'Ocean's 13'. I'll opt for the art cinema and lesser known films over that stuff every time.


SandDancer said...

I was just reading about this somewhere else before I read your thoughts on it. It does sound interesting - the thing I always find with these films made up of different parts as that the quality of them tends to vary, but I suppose by keeping each vignette short you are never too far away from something that might be more interesting.

I'm also a huge fan of arts cinemas. I don't know what they are like where you are, but here everything about them is better - you can get proper food, good coffee etc rather than junk food and people usually sit still & watch the film, unlike at the multiplex.

M said...

Yes, some of them were very good, some could have been left out altogether, but most had some clever and creative aspect to it. And you're right -- if you didn't like one, just give it 6 minutes, and life moves on.

Agree on the whole experience -- the food is better, there's a full bar, the crowd is more sophisticated, there's no small children about, no cell phones ringing. A better movie experience all around.