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Paris Je T'aime

Fall in love with Paris 18 times.

Paris, the city of light, love and cinema, casts its dreamy spell once again in Paris, Je T'aime, an anthology of 18 love stories from 20 world-renowned filmmakers, all set in various famous Parisian neighborhoods, tourist spots, parks and landmarks. It was a movie that won me immediately. You couldnít call it perfect - the episodes are uneven - but it has something that sometimes is better than perfection: real love for its subject and themes. The 18 Paris, je t'aime filmmaking teams have assembled dream casts for their little gems and the producers let the film take us all around the city, from Montmartre streets, to the Eiffel Tower, to the bars of Pigalle. In each case, the setting is the title of the segment. Each of the tales gives us an eyeful of that setting, while trying to distill the essence of its romance, drama or comedy in about five minutes. For francophiles, obviously, it's a must; for cinephiles, it's also a must. The movie assembles a supremely broad and gifted international group: the directors range from Franceís Olivier Assayas, Gerard Depardieu and Frederic Auburtin, to Americaís Wes Craven and Gus Van Sant to Japan's Nobuhiro Suwa, Germany's Tom Tykwer to Mexico's Alfonso Cuarun. Their styles may be as diverse as their origins, but all of them revel in the landscapes. My own favorites included Gurinder Chadhaís Romeo-and-Juliet tale of Western-Muslim tolerance; the Coen Brothers' wicked jape about why you shouldn't let your eyes wander in the Metro, starring Steve Buscemi; Walter Salles' and Daniela Thomas' ode to motherhood; Alfonso Cuarunís long-take tale with Nick Nolte; and the joint effort of writer/actress Gena Rowlands and directors Depardieu and Auburtin, a poignant divorce dialogue. The masterpiece of the bunch is the last, wonderful piece by Alexander Payne (Sideways). Here, in the moving and funny story of an American in Paris, he amuses us with the rambles of Carol, a Denver letter carrier who has been saving for years for this trip and even learned French for it. (Her accent is likably atrocious.) Very few filmmakers can get humour as bittersweet and realistic as Payne; he gets it again here. Carol's French tour is a lovely end to a wondrous ensemble package of a film. Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

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Directed by: 
Olivier Assayas, Frederic Auburtin
Running Time: 
French with Englsih subtitles
Florence Muller, Burno Podalydes, Leila Bekhti, Cyril Descours, Marianne Faithfull
Screenplay by: 
Tristan Carne, Emmanuel Bengihy

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