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The cobblestone streets and fluorescent sky lights of Paris evoke sighs of longing from almost anyone. Known as a popular tourist destination as well as the city of love, Paris is on the travel wish lists of thousands of people around the world. The tasteful film Paris, Je T'aime captures the beauty and emotions that flow through France's capital city. This collection of eighteen films range from humorous to endearing in mood; providing viewers with a broad variety of shorts to sample. However, just like in every film sampling, there are bound to be a few rotten ingredients among the first class cinema cuisine.


The entertaining short titled Tuileries, directed by American writers Joel and Ethan Coen, is a comical standout about the conflict that ensues between an American tourist (Steve Buscemi) and a young couple (Axel Kiener and Julie Bataille) after he makes eye contact with them on the subway. After committing this behavioural faux pas, Buscemi expertly communicates his confusion and bewilderment at the French man's aggressiveness- all without uttering a single word. Another honourable mention would be Isabel Coixet's Bastille. This affecting tale depicts a man (Sergio Castellitto) that decides to leave his marriage for his mistress (Leonore Watling) only to find that his wife (Miranda Richardson) is terminally ill. Castellitto splendidly delivers as an emotionally riveting narrator. Lastly, the simplest stories are the sweetest in this collection, most notably Loin du 16e, where a young woman (Catalina Sandino Moreno) sings a lullaby to soothe her child before singing that same tune to calm her employer's crying baby. Moreno's honest portrayal of a loving mother convincingly tugs at heartstrings.


Yet unfortunately there are also cringe-inducing shorts which turn the flavour of the whole movie sour. A prime example would be the cheesy story line of Tour Eiffel, directed by French animator Sylvain Chomet, where a boy tells how his mime artist parents (Paul Putner and Yolande Moreau), meet and fall in love. The blatant exaggeration and hokey accompanying soundtrack of this film makes for an unoriginal and flat love story. Christopher Doyle's Porte de Choisy is stereotypical comedy at its worst for its depiction of a salesman (Barbet Schroeder) making a call to a Chinatown salon whose owner (Li Xin) proves to be an aggressive customer. The confusing storyline does not add anything to this film's likability, which is already falling apart from its frequent utilization of Chinese kung fu. But nothing is more groan worthy than Quartier de la Madeleine by Canadian director Vincenzo Natali- where a young tourist (Elijah Wood) falls for a vampiress (Olga Kurylenko). Wood's amateur performance is a far cry from his previous roles in The Lord of the Rings movies. The use of unrealistic special effects (who has hot pink coloured blood???), gothic costumes, and a paltry attempt at humour make this a cinematic nightmare.


There are also bittersweet tastes in this eclectic mix, such as Faubourg Saint-Denis by German director Tom Tykwer. The film's storyline about the apparently declining relationship between a blind man (Melchior Beslon) and his girlfriend (Natalie Portman) is confusing at best. Yet the cinematography is brilliant- an accurate picture of their relationship is painted by using several sped up frames of them meeting in various landmarks throughout Paris. The closing film, 14e Arrondissement, directed by Alexander Payne, also pays homage to the beautiful scenery of Paris while using an American tourist's (Margo Martindale) rough French narration. While the dialogue in it is comparable to a teenage diary entry, the naivete of the tourist shines through and brings Paris Je T'aime to a respectable close.


This is a suitable choice for nontraditional movie viewers that want to explore every genre of the film industry. While the uniqueness of this film may not be to everyone's taste, one is bound to enjoy at least some of the shorts that are offered. After all, if all else fails, one can also be entertained by belittling the rotten tomatoes in this bunch.



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