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Paris Je T’aime: The City of Love in a Nutshell (083568)

I personally really enjoyed this anthology film that broadcasted the talents of multiple directors, actors and artists all in relation to their love for Paris. It was sweet, charming, hilarious and so much more. A truly heartwarming experience, all 18 shorts that are presented in this anthology each shine in their own right and respectfully so.

One of the shorts that I enjoyed in particular was entitled “Tuileries” written by the Coen brothers and starring Steve Buscemi who I am a fan of. The way the film played with the emotion of love and how it humored the audience with over-the-top acting as a jealous boyfriend is enraged over the simple eye-contact that the character of Buscemi makes with his girlfriend is hilarious. The color tone and contrast of yellow and orange gave off a very warm atmosphere and was all the more enlightening and welcoming to the audience.

Another of the films that stood out to me was “Faubourg Saint-Denis” starring the gorgeous Natalie Portman. The way it told the story of a blind man’s relationship with a young aspiring actress and how he accidentally misinterprets her words as cause for a break-up between them, the way in which he suddenly reflects upon their time spent together whilst never mentioning anything to do with sight really made me realize the importance of those things that one can take for granted in a relationship.

However, one short in particular that I wasn’t fond of was “Tour Eiffel” about the story of two mimes falling in love. Everything was actually fine for me whilst viewing the short, up until the mimes began to use their feet as vehicles and move quickly about the town. This sat very awkwardly with me as everything else in the film was realistic except for that aspect. It was just simply too weird and felt misplaced, it never sat right with me throughout the entire short and made me feel uneasy.

The short “Parc Monceau” that starred Nick Nolte was excellent in playing with the minds of the audience. Filmed in one continuous shot, the short leads one to believe that Nolte is an elderly man seeking the heart of a younger woman whilst encouraging her to leave her current man, Gaspard. By the films end, we learn that he is in fact the father of the young woman and Gaspard her son. The twist is so effortlessly revealed through the camera’s subtle change in angle, from a trailing shot of the two characters talking along the sidewalk to it slowly panning as they walk past the camera, marking the turning point and twist in the film’s plot. Charming and sweet, this was one of my favorites in the anthology.

Lastly, the short entitled “Quartier de la Madeleine” that revolves around a young tourist falling in love with a vampire was captivating for obvious reasons, it had a vampire in it. It’s use of color (Black, white, blue and red) was very artistic and stood out amongst the rest of the films for that reason alone. While it’s ending unforgettable as the two fall in love and resort to sucking on each other’s necks instilled both a sense of wrongness and humor, it was yet another brilliant piece of work.

Ultimately, Paris Je T’aime was a great way to end the class, after following the heavy dosage of drama and violence in The Godfather Parts I and II, this anthology film was perfect in lightening the mood and ending the class on a very happy, joyous and humorous note. Overall, I have truly come to appreciate film from a whole other level, and now understand the importance of having an open mind and thinking out-of-the-box when viewing movies and films alike.

 
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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The French Connection [Paris, je t’aime] (093122)

Most people think that short films are easy to make. Why wouldn’t they be? They only go for approximately fifteen minutes – and even that is considered long. However, I disagree. Short films are much more difficult to shoot than feature length films because one is given such a limited time frame to convey one’s message. I’m not talking about the whole minimalist, “less is more,” crap. I’m talking about saying so much with the little that you have. Limited screen time, limited budget, limited production, limited everything… It must be an adrenaline rush to create a short film.

Having eighteen short films play one after the other was truly a delight. Sometimes, in feature length films, good writing can compensate for bad cinematography and vice-versa. In short films, however, this is not the case. Thus, it is imperative for the writer and director (if they are two different people) to have some sort of rare chemistry when it comes to their work. This makes viewing short films so exciting. There are a lot of subtle techniques that filmmakers use for short films because of the time constraint. One of these techniques can be seen in the segment about the Spanish immigrant. The director conveyed the caretaker’s detachment to her employer’s baby by simply obscuring the image of the latter while the former sang a lullaby – a lullaby that she sings to her own child. Simple. Effective. Brilliant.

Regarding the eighteen separate storylines, I really must commend the writers. It’s no small feat to create a concisely written script for a feature length film. What more for a short? Almost every film started ‘in medias res’ and the true test of a tightly written script is if the audience can immediately catch on to what’s being shown on screen. Honestly, I had no problems in deciphering the plot in any of the shorts, and no character seemed underdeveloped. However, I was expecting something like the film “Crash,” wherein all the stories somehow interconnect with one another. Then again, how do you connect eighteen short films, right?

Looking back, I enjoyed most of the short films, with the exception of maybe two or three. Stylistically, these three weren’t bad at all. I just couldn’t identify with them. The films I could identify with actually paralleled my love life in many ways. Paris je t’aime features not only many different stories about love, but also love’s different stages. There is of course the beginning – that first spark, the initial attraction that pulls you together. Sometimes, we mistake a spark for a misfire. Things don’t always go our way. May it be a mere coincidence or the hand of destiny, who knows? Who really cares? There’s just the moment and you try to hold on to it as best as you can. It’s the stage wherein everything is good, and you feel like it’ll last forever, like nothing can touch you.

Then there are the fights that you have. She decides to pick on you for something small, or your own insensitivity causes her to snap. But you chase after her to make it work because no one else you know at that moment can make you as happy as she does. Sometimes, you get tired of one another. Maybe something causes you to rekindle that fire – or not. Sometimes, something terrible happens. A shit storm just decides to head your way. Maybe you’ve caused it, or maybe she’s caused it. When it pours, it doesn’t really matter anymore because things are falling apart faster than you can fix them. And if things don’t turn out for the better… Well, who wants to remember what that’s like?

Wow. All that (and more) in eighteen short films. So many of the films were a little too familiar for comfort, but that’s probably why I enjoyed them so much. I believe that the love (be it romantic or otherwise) that people have for one another is unique. Nevertheless, it was reassuring to know that, somewhere in the world, thousands of miles away – there were people who had an idea of what it was like to be me. The need to be understood, the need to feel connected is one of the most important things besides love.

We’re not just looking for that special someone. We’re looking for that connection that will last a lifetime.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Paris Je T’aime (071289)

Paris Je t’aime is composed of 18 unrelated short clips by about love in Paris. A different director directs each clip. The variety in the 18 clips makes this an interesting film. Some are dramatic and some go for comedy. I don’t remember all of them but there are a couple of unforgettable ones. One is is called “Quartier de la Madeleine” and it is about a tourist backpacker (played by Elijah Wood) who meets a vampire in a bridge. The clip was interesting and different but I didn’t like it because it was too weird.  Clips with familiar faces were memorable too like the ones with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman. Another was is the film with Catalina Sandino Moreno as an immigrant mother in Paris. Her character would leave her child in a daycare whilst she served as a nanny to a Paris couple. The irony was really striking and it really hit home. How sad was it to be able to take care of someone elses child but not your own, to hold an infant but be so far from yours? This would be torture, thinking of all the things you could not do for your child because you had to be able to supply for him or her. This movie showed both sacrifice and hope, which is why I think among all the films in Paris J’taime, this was the one I really remembered. The other striking film which seemed campy but stayed true to the theme of love was the film by Gus Van Sant. He showed two boys who did not understand each other, working together. One was French, the other American. There were looks and nothing more, until finally the call of curiosity made them talk to each other. It was touching to see two young men be able to communicate and relate, love-wise in such a non-conventional way.

What I liked about this movie is that, even though there is a time restriction, you could still understand and grasp each story. They don’t show the complete story but somehow you put the missing pieces in your head. The same thing goes for character development. Obviously you cant mold a complex character in 8 minutes. The characters in the 18 clips were stereotypes and didn’t need background cause you already have it in your head.

I like its American counterpart New York, I Love You better than this. I felt more love from that movie. This is ironic because Paris is the city of love so it should have love oozing from the cracks of its sidewalks. I think the love shown in New York, I Love You is more modern so I identify with it more. But I still like Paris Je T’aime because of its simplicity and variety in depicting love between different kinds of people living in our city.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Paris, I love you: how to fall in love with a movie

The winding streets of Paris are the perfect setting for this arrangement of several stories woven together by shared places. Places are arbitrary unless you create a memory and make it your own. On the surface, this film talks about love and the inevitability of it. An unfortunate latent effect of having the stories unfold in Paris is that it fools people into believing that love chooses a place and that it is bred in places like this. It only enforces the idea that love is psychological and there are times that it seems that we force it out because we are in a place like Paris or that we are lonely.

Of all the stories, my favourite one was the aspiring actress falling in love with a blind man. Beside the fact that it was magnificent in terms of how it was shot, the story is told so beautifully. With the script and the setting, it would give anyone a sense of redemption when it finally ends. I especially liked the depiction of how time flies and how we can’t control it and what it does to a relationship. There is a line in The Virgin Suicides that goes “she was the still point of my turning world” that encapsulates that sequence perfectly. Everything else is in a rush and going past you but once you’re in love you realize that standing still is perfectly fine.

The repetition of the word “exams” could symbolize the redundancy of their situation. How everything else is the same except for you. The way the story is told is fast paced and shot in very short scenes except for the times when the characters are just standing still. Memory does that, sometimes past experiences are just flashes. That was evident in how they cut the scenes so abruptly almost as if in a hurry to get to the next.

The best line was when Thomas, the blind man, said I see you to his girlfriend, Francine. Three words that hold so much symbolism is a sign of a brilliant script. Other than the quite obvious connotation that love is blind, this line relays a message that it knows no limitations. It surpasses all disabilities and obstacles. There are no force as strong that defies the very physical laws of nature.

This story was one the realistic ones, in regard to the more fantastic ones such the vampire story starring Elijah Wood. The back streets of Paris can be frightening in the night. Not all love stories happen underneath bright lights and sunshine. Probably a metaphor for love sucking oneself dry, this story was dark in the guise of a romance happening in the crevices of a city so alive.

Of all the movies watched in class, this must be the lightest. In contrast to the dark comedies and thrillers, this movie was a great addition. It manages to be happy and beautiful without being too corny or overly lovey dovey. Its greatest quality is the ability to stitch together very different people and say that there is no formula for loving another or oneself.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Feel Good

An anthology film, also known as a portmanteau film, consists of several short stories packaged into one movie and Paris Je T’aime (Paris, I love you) is an example of that. The movie is a compilation of 18 short films with stories in the different areas of Paris directed by 22 directors.

Paris Je T’aime is set in Paris, the country of love. One would expect that this movie would all be about the romantic cheesy type of love but in fact, it captures all kinds of love. There were stories of men and women meeting for the first time and finding to be very fond of each other, stories of parent-child relationships, and stories of couples breaking up and making up; stories of the self, stories with happy ending, stories with happy never-afters and even stories with no endings. There was just so much love actualization and no matter how short the films were they were still very enjoyable. Some people prefer to watch one story and have closure but I liked how Paris Je T’aime didn’t need to have that closure. I believe that these short films were very straight to the point. They didn’t need to have background stories in order for the viewers to get the message.

Some of the stories that are in my top list actually talk about the many types of relationships and dealing with them. First, is about the story of the Muslim girl and the French boy finding an uncertain platonic-infatuation relationship despite their racial difference.  I like this movie because it was simple and somewhat secretive with the dialogue that you couldn’t really know what they were feeling. I like how the film broke the cultural barriers and was built a new foundation for love and friendship. Second, is about the engaged British couple visiting the famous cemetery in Paris with the woman very enthusiastic looking for Oscar Wilde’s tomb and the man, well he was apathetic just following where the woman was going. When they reach Oscar Wilde’s tomb, they get into an argument about how the man isn’t giving her any light in her life and then she walks out and when the man goes after her, he trips and bumps his head on the tomb of Oscar Wilde. As he’s down, he sees “the ghost of Oscar Wilde” telling him that without the woman he will die. The man, punched by realization, runs after the woman and apologizes. They kiss and make-up and then the man sees “the ghost of Oscar Wilde” again saluting him. Then the couple leave the cemetery hand in hand. I really enjoyed this one because of how you need to get bopped in the head sometimes to realize what you have and what you don’t. The story was nice because it seemed realistic. I loved the actors who played the roles because it seemed so fit and so real. The supernatural part of the film and which I think was oddly cool was when the ghost of Oscar Wilde appeared. It’s like a “speaking of the devil” type of thing. The couple was just talking about him and then poof! He’s there. I like the irony of it all; how Oscar Wilde was the fuel of their argument but then became the bridge to bring them back together. Third story is about a mother who can’t seem to let go of her son who passed away. In the beginning of the film, it showed how hard she was dealing with the death. She looked so depressed and so spaced out that even her husband couldn’t get through her. Then she hears her son’s voice, she follows the voice and ends up in the middle of the street. With not seeing her son, she breaks down in tears. To cut the story short, she hallucinates, “sees” her son and lets him go. This encounter, where the boy wanted to go with the cowboy, was a symbol of her letting go. When reality comes back, her husband meets her then she gives him a big hug. The husband asks her where she got all her strength and then she says she got it from God. I like how this film was the most dramatic out of all the films. I like how they combined the values of faith, hope and love into one frame.

I chose these three films to talk about because they were the ones that left a good mark after watching. The simplicity and practicality of how these films were made was what I liked. The pacing was perfect so they didn’t leave me thinking what happened before or what happened. They just left me thinking of what was happening at the moment and that was that. I liked how their ideas were out there making the start of my experience dramatically instantaneous.

There were some films that I also particularly didn’t appreciate just for the fact that they tried to be too artsy. Examples for that would be the encounter of the Asian and French beauticians. I found it too weird and annoying because I didn’t get the message. I found the story shallow and worse, it was described in an eccentric way in which I couldn’t understand. Nonetheless, the main reason why I like Paris Je T’aime in general is how it is the lightest movie we watched in class. This movie didn’t necessarily need thinking but more of understanding the elements of it. I like how there was a mix of languages because it felt like they were reaching out to a wider audience and it didn’t make me get tired of the French language.   I also like how they were able to incorporate several styles of filming with different storylines and fuse them into one picture. I think the single main setting, which is Paris, made it exceptionally easier for the viewers to be drawn into the movie. And aside from not having complex audiovisual effects, the stories were entertaining. The plot is a big factor that contributed to the film’s likeability and I’m glad that I was able to experience something so simply amazing.

This is a movie I’d definitely want to watch again and again just to feel good.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Paris-pectives (Paris, Je T’aime)

A kaleidoscope viewed from the inside and out, offering us many different perspectives in seeing what's in store for us.

Ending the semester with Paris, Je T’aime was the perfect way to cap off the first film class I have ever taken. With its nature being an anthology, I appreciated the fact that this film celebrated the many different styles of renowned directors, fusing all these short films into one great spectacle. Through Paris, Je T’aime, I was able to have a deeper appreciation of how every film has a unique way of conveying its own message.

The whole week since Thursday, my friends and I have shared links on Facebook carrying the theme song of the movie. I had it on loop last Friday because I just can’t get over how much the film created an impact on me! From the stories to the dialogs to the soundtrack of Paris, Je T’aime, everything simply fell into the right place.

My favorite sequences from the movie were the ones who involved a child in them. The first one was Parc Monceau (grandfather and baby Gaspard) and the second one was Loin Du 16 (mother and two babies). These particular sequences hit me the most because they are the truest form of love that is often neglected. Nowadays, when people talk about great love stories, they often refer to that of romantic affairs. Only a few of these kinds discussions pertain to the unconditional love of fathers and mothers, alike.

It is quite interesting for me to realize that since short films are restricted by the element of time, they must work with the little they have to get their point across. In Parc Monceau, the essential tool use was the well-written script. I like how it was written like a book that compels you to flip towards the next page right away. Through the power of toying around with words, it was able to create a conflict, climax and resolution all rolled up into an intense 5-minute run. This made me think about how some movies have the potential to be good ones, but are ruined by the neglect for a good script. Another well played short despite its time restrictions was Loin Du 16. Considering that it was bound by a script that was no less than a few phrases thrown around by the characters, it still was able to present us with a striking idea. What made this special was the shot sequences, allowing the audience to feel the distance between mother and child & the instinctive longing for one’s own offspring.

It is amazing to think about how these anthologies were able to present themselves to us in a way regular films would do. I never would have imagined that even though some theatric elements were lost (e.g. duration/time alloted, dialog/script, etc.), most, if not all, the films in Paris, Je T’aime are successful in their own little ways. There hasn’t been a film I’ve seen in a long time that allowed me to feel different kinds of emotions in one sitting — love, anger, confusion, hope and sadness. All these were constantly coming and going as the movie progressed. It kept me spinning around, with me almost losing my balance while trying to keep up with the surges of feelings that entered my mind.

Paris, Je T’aime almost made me break down. Just like how many little pieces complete the story of love, I guess it’s safe to say that the film also left me in pieces — pieces that are more open to different perspectives, pieces that celebrate life in a multitude of ways, and pieces that learned to understand the twists and angles of our distorted realities no matter how difficult they could be.

 
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Posted by on 24 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Paris, je t’aime

For me, Paris, Je T’aime is an emotional rollercoaster of a movie. I liked the way it continuously stimulated my emotions while I was watching it the first time. As an anthology of short movies about love made by twenty different directors, I think the movie did a good job in satisfying me despite the lack of certain story elements such as plot and character development. Like I said, the film was successful in giving me the full range of emotions that film viewers like me often want to get from romantic movies. Also, the fact that this anthology is made by various directors gives each segment variety and uniqueness , which makes the film not boring in spite of using clichéd cheesy moments.

In terms of narration, I think the editors of the film did a good job to create a sense of discontinuity between each segment with its use of sound. The music played at the beginning of each short film effectively set the tone of its segment, completely disregarding the atmosphere create in the previous segment. I think this is a crucial factor to consider in analyzing this film since each segment included in the anthology has a different atmosphere from one another so signifying the transition between each film prevents them from overlapping one another.

As for the movie’s camera works, I already expected that the different directors would use different camera techniques in their short films. Aside from giving variety, it also enhanced the ability of each segment to stimulate emotions. For instance, the jump cuts used in the tourist segment (the one with Steve Buscemi) made that scene weird, but fun at the same time. Another example would be the tracking shot used in the segment in which the father talks to his daughter in a dark street. The tacking shot made the scene more adventurous as if the characters are plotting to do something that not commonly done.

In terms of the actors’ portrayal of their roles, I think they did a good job in fully expressing their characters given the short span of time allotted to their segment in the anthology. Even without plot and character development, the way the characters were expressed did not give me  the feeling of lack that I expected before I watched the film. This is probably because the characters were already cliché enough for me and there’s nothing too unusual about them so they didn’t really need character development for me. Instead of focusing on the characters, this made me focus more on the interactions happening in each segment, which is really what’s needed for a movie that’s main purpose is to stimulate emotions related to love.

I also liked the movie’s ending in which the characters from different short films are shown to be connected with one another in the city of Paris. The last scene gave sense to the anthology’s title, “Paris, Je T’aime”, since all the characters were in the city of Paris and were each experiencing a different face of love.

Overall, I think Paris, Je T’aime is a very good film if one just wants to experience the various emotions of love without going through the usual formula used in romantic films.

 
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Posted by on 23 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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