|Short Stories Filmed - sunday 2007-12-30 2324||last modified 2007-12-30 2330|
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I took a class ostensibly on American literature that ended up a practicum in Ernest Hemingway. Years after the academic rigors enshrouding the material have worn off those memories, two core interests remain: short stories and Paris. While Neal Stephenson continues to make his point that brevity is not the supreme goal of all writing, Hemingway illuminated for me just how much can be conveyed with so little.
I don't know what his taste in films would be like, a man who delved deeply into stereotypically macho interests, from the world of corrida de toros to deep sea fishing, hunting, boxing - did he watch movies at all? Perhaps it's too much to assume he would enjoy Paris, je t'aime given his own love of a Paris that existed nearly a century ago, his own particular skills with the short form, his own notorious ego. But if Paris has always been, always is the city of lights and the destiny and destination of romantics, a moveable feast - maybe he would.
Je t'aime tells itself in five minute vignettes, mostly in French, each by a different director with totally unrelated story lines - the briefest of allegories on a vision of love, all within city limits. Not all are masters of the form, some succumbing to over-exposition, others to a mistaken belief that five minutes can only produce the flattest of characters; the best give you a substantial amount to consider, and all too soon you find yourself in another arrondisement. So is love, so is a city: some parts you take to like a fish to water, others you would gladly leave in your wake.
The film is not so much brilliant as it is befitting. Love and relationships can be lessened by the denotative; better are they described through the nuance of their stories, grounded in a city even those of who have not been can appreciate. The final vignette appropriately draws the ensemble to its end: humor, sadness, dread, and joy. What more could you take from eighteen short stories about love?
This is my last post of the year. I hope your 2007 was memorable. Happy 2008.
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