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After six months of waiting, I saw the first four-star movie of 2007 tonight. I first heard about this movie around a year ago. I liked the assembly of talent, director- and actor-wise, yet I couldn’t make a decision of whether to see it upon its release. I was apathetic when it was finally released, figuring I’d never have a chance to see it; however, the film’s engagement in my city intrigued me. A friend was psyched about it, so we went to see it. And yes, the movie, Paris, je t’aime, is everything it should, or could, be.

Based on my experience with this movie, I suggest not asking anybody (or investigating) the plots of the individual segments. Learning anything specific about the shorts ahead of time ruins the potential beauty of the experience, so I will not summarize any portions here. Just jump into the movie and face the film for what it is: 20 directors professing their love for Paris through short film vignettes regarding the City of Lights.

Some of the directors that I found unfamiliar surprised me. On the whole, I got what I expected from the directors I favor, even a couple revelations. Gus van Sant’s contribution was sweet and lyrical in his special kind of way. I like Alfonso Cuarón, but his segment could have been more. Yes, it was cute, but I expect more from the director of Y tu mamá también and Children of Men. (Although I liked the reference to films by other directors involved with this movie: the posters for Elephant and The Motorcycle Diaries are visible in a window of a video store.) I feel as if I’m only beginning to appreciate Alexander Payne: the more I watch his work, the more I realize what an auteur he is. Of all the segments, his and the Coens’ are the only shorts that I can tell are definitely a work of their directors: the other segments could have been done by anybody, and I wouldn’t know the difference.

Yet, at times, I felt disappointed in the movie. The movie occasionally shifts into multiple-personality mode: Christopher Doyle’s silly piece is strangely juxtaposed with some depressing and dark short films. However, the one or two poor segments cannot spoil the whole movie. As one film professor taught me, “A film is supposed to collapse then come back together again.” Just as the city itself is something to experience, Paris, je t’aime is, on the whole, a gentle, superb love letter to Paris not unlike Woody Allen’s Manhattan is to New York City.


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