Friday, October 15, 2010

Cities of Love/Anthologies

Paris, Je T'aime

Paris, Je T'aime seems to have started the run of anthology films about cities back in 2006. 18 short stories make up Paris, Je T'aime--each about a different arrondissement in Paris. (Wouldn't it be perfect if there were only 18 arrondissements so each district get their own story? Sadly 2 arrondissements got left out.) I really liked the film. The music used is brilliant, goes really well with the mood of each story. And the way the shorts are stringed together in the end is touching, somewhat dainty.

Having watched it over 2 years ago, I still remember liking, in particular, the Quais de Seine, Tour Eiffel (story about mimes that inspired my Halloween costume sophomore year), Parc Monceau (clever, single continuous shot story directed by Alfonso Cuaron), Pere-Lachaise, Faubourg Saint-Denis (Natalie Portman!), and 14e arrondissement shorts. The film not only features an ensemble cast but some of the most relevant directors today: Gus Van Sant, the Coen brothers, Christopher Doyle (Wong Kar-wai's long time cinematographer...although I really didn't like his feature), Olivier Assayas, Wes Craven, and Alexander Payne.

What Paris does really well is show the beauty and romance of Paris whether it's through a bittersweet breakup, a mother losing her child, love stories, or the city's racial diversity.

New York, I Love You

I anticipated the premiere of New York, I Love You for quite a long time. I did a Looking Forward post about it back in 8/12/09 and I finally watched it last month. I think it went through some sort of distribution problem, and the release date kept getting pushed back. Anyways, this anthology was a huge letdown.

The way the short films is tied together is an embarrassing cliche. The music is not memorable unlike Paris, Je T'aime's soundtrack. And the stories themselves are not as interesting nor do they feature the boroughs of New York City in a way that lets the characteristics of each borough shine.

Of the 10 shorts, there is only one that I truly liked. It's the 7th section directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth & Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and written by Anthony Minghella (who unfortunately passed away 2 years ago). This short features Shia Labeouf, Julie Christie, and John Hurt. It's really beautiful, ambiguous, and a must-see. Rent the dvd or find it online but just skip to this short feature!


Tokyo! doesn't really belong to the Cities of Love franchise that includes Paris, New York, and will include Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Jerusalem, Venice, and Timbuktu. (I really don't know how they are going to do all this. The two produced so far have been financial flops.) But Tokyo! follows the trend of these anthology films. This one is slightly different with just three segments; and while they are about love, the way each feature treats Tokyo is strangely unappealing and negative.

Honestly, I don't think I like any of the three features. Bong Joon-ho, who directed two of my favorite films, The Host and Mother, directed the feature Shaking Tokyo. The story is about hikikomori, "the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement." (Wikipedia) It's somewhat interesting and the best of the three films in terms of the style, story development, and characters. But I don't know if I would want to watch it again.

Bummer...these anthology films just keep getting worse and worse huh?


sheryl said...

there are actually 20 arrondissements in paris. :P i think the other two didn't fit in or something. i don't know.

Alex Lai said...

Thank you my dear reader, Sheryl. Correction has been made.