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"Paris, je t'aime" Review

Paris, je t'aime is what you get when you combine 20 short films averaging six minutes each from directors both familiar to gringo audiences (e.g. the Coen Brothers, Wes Craven, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuarón) and unknown beyond the art house and clove cigarette circles (e.g. Nobuhiro Suwa, Sylvain Chomet, Isabel Coixet - me neither) with stars familiar (e.g. Natalie Portman, Steve Buscemi, Gena Rowlands, Elijah Wood, Nick Nolte) and less so (i.e. everyone else) all set in Paris, but rarely the Eiffel Tower/Arc de Triomphe postcard version of the City of Lights.

With so many players and scenes and no real overarching theme - love and Paris, I suppose - it's more a curiosity to see American actors speak fluent Frog and see who succeeds best with such a limited time frame. Standouts are the Coen Brothers bit with Steve Buscemi's silent torment as he finds out why you don't make eye contact with strangers; a wild moody piece involving vampires; a quiet hairstyling supplies salesman's encounter with a Chinese salon; and a sprightly romance between a blind young man and Portman's up-and-coming actress. Not as good is Cuarón's one-shot meander which feels like a warm-up for his Children of Men set pieces and Van Sant's tedious and oh-so-predictable chunk which I suspect was more for his personal spank bank and I don't just mean the obligatory Kurt Cobain reference.

Just as with Michigan weather, if something about Paris, je t'aime doesn't strike your fancy, wait a few minutes and it will change. There are more hits than misses and some are quite poignant, balancing out the twaddle like a young woman singing some dumb lullaby. Twice. As long as you're not expecting a travelogue - that's what Taken and Before Sunset are for, it's worth a looksee for any adventurous movie fan.

Score: 7/10


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