PARIS, JE’TAIME

A delightful, mostly entertaining and rewarding omnibus film from some of our most celebrated directors, about maybe the most beautiful city in the world. Some 19 different directors (some in pairs) each work to present a story set in a different section of the City of Lights, and the results are generally mixed. A few segments stand out, including an early one by Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”) about a young Parisian student who quickly falls for a young Muslim woman after his friends tease her when she trips and drops her things. There’s an amusing near-silent segment from the Coen Brothers (“Fargo”) in which Steve Buscemi attracts the wrong kind of attention at a stop in the Metro. Sylvain Chomet (“The Triplets of Belleville”) this time works in colorful live action to present the delightful and warm story of how two mimes met and fell in love, featuring the Eiffel Tower. Alfonso Cuaron (“Children of Men”) follows Nick Nolte as he and daughter Ludivine Sagnier walk (in an unbroken shot) down a long and busy street, covering a range of topics before arriving at Nolte’s destination: to babysit. Vincenzo Natali (“Cube”) directs Elijah Wood in the horrific story of a tourist who gets bitten by a vampire and falls in love. Wes Craven takes a scarcely less supernatural approach as he follows British newlyweds Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell through a famous cemetery, discussing their relationship and even meeting the ghost of Oscar Wilde. Olivier Assayas (“Clean”) follows a drug-addicted actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal) on a long night of shooting and snorting cocaine. Famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle (“In the Mood for Love” and “Hero”) directs famous director Barbet Schroeder (“Barfly,” “Reversal of Fortune”) as he makes his way through an Asian district, and gets assaulted. Gus Van Sant follows an American youth who is the object of affection for a young French apprentice, but the language barrier gets in the way of any physical contact. Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) directs aspiring actress Natalie Portman in the hyperkinetic retrospective of her one-time romance with a blind student. Some are less memorable, from the likes of Bruno Podalydes, Walter Salles, Nobuhiro Suwa, and others. The film ends with Margo Martindale, directed by Alexander Payne (“Election,” “Sideways”), as an American tourist amusingly narrating her trip alone to Paris for her French class – in a Southern accent. All in all, this is a hit and miss affair, but a nice one that makes you want to visit the city as soon as it’s over.

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