Sunday, January 10, 2010


Anthology of short films

2006 saw the release of Paris, je t'aime, a new concept in filmmaking conceived by Emmanuel Benbihy which I described as “a potpourri of eighteen short films by as many directors to convey in just 5 minutes some aspect of the human endeavour in and about one of the arrondissements (neighbourhoods) of Paris.”

Hayden Chistense: Ben, a pickpocket
Rachel Bilson: Molly
Andy Garcia: her boyfriend college professor Garry
Emilie Ohana: videophotographer Zoe
Natalie Portman: Hasidic Jewish diamond broker Rifka
Irrfan Khan: her supplier Mansuhkbai
Orlando Bloom: David
Christina Ricci: Camille, a girl David picks up in a bar
Julie Christie: aging opera diva
John Hurt: hotel receptionist
Shia LaBeouf: hotel bellboy
James Caan: the father
Olivia Thirlby: his wheelchair-bound daughter
Anton Yelchin: her date for the evening
Bradley Cooper: Gus
Drea de Matteo: Lydia, a girl Gus meets in the bar
Ethan Hawke: an aspiring writer
Maggie Q: an attractive woman outside a Soho bar

and others no doubt

This is Benbihy’s second installment in a series he says “will eventually include Rio de Janerio, Shanghai, Mumbai and Jerusalem.” If they are anything like this one, he can count me out.

Like its predecessor, this is the collective work of eleven short films with each segment running about 10 minutes. That’s twice as long as his first film but twice as long does not make each one twice as good. Au contraire: for most of the segments I saw it meant having to endure it twice as long.

Unlike its predecessor, the segments all have the same heavily saturated dimly lit visual look about them so it is difficult to distinguish one from the other whereas in the first go-around each segment looked different.

In any event none of the segments I sat through was any good, the subject matter not always of great interest, boring even. The result is a very unsettling viewing experience. But what bothered me the most was the last one I saw: a vulgar, sexually explicit conversation between two people. That did it. I could no longer put up with any more of it and so I walked out.

for language and sexual content.

I was not the first to leave. Four people had better sense than me and left before I did.

Apparently the budget for this disaster was $14,000,000. I can think of at least 14 million better ways of spending that kind of money.

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