Anybody who's ever been to a shorts program at a film festival knows that it's like subjecting yourself to self-inflicted bloodletting. Even if there's one short movie that blows you away, it doesn't make up for the inevitable heaps of crap you're bound to sit through. The thing is, you see, it's perhaps more difficult to make a good short than a good feature. With a short, there's no room to breathe, no room for error. How do you be resonant while being economical? How do you convey plot and character in small amount of time?
In the hands of some major international talent, it seems pretty damn easy. Paris Je T'aime (now available on DVD) is an anthology of 18 short films by the likes of the Coen Brothers, Gus Van Sant, Alfonso Cuaron, Tom Tykwer, and Alexander Payne, and these short stories about love make up an impressive and affecting whole—traversing different genres, visual styles, and moods. As you can imagine, there are some misses among the hits, but the culminative effect of the project is gratifying on many levels.
There are three films I couldn't stand—one involves a mime (I know, right?!), one involves the surreal journey of a beauty products salesman in Paris' Chinatown (can you please experiment on your own time, please?), and one involves an eye-rolling couple's quarrel in front of Oscar Wilde's grave (*rolling my eyes again*). The rest of the films range from good to great (I mean, you can count on the Coen Brothers and Alfonso Cuaron to deliver, no?), with two standouts that absolutely floored me.
Oliver Schmitz's Place des fetes is about a chance encounter between an African immigrant and the woman of his dreams; I don't want to give too much away, but just know that it's lovely and heartbreaking. And Walter Salles and DanielaThomas's Loin du 16e is the simple yet provocative story of a young woman (Maria Full of Grace's Catalina Sandino Moreno) and her journey to her employer's house; it doesn't sound like much, but, believe me, it packs a wallop.
I am eagerly awaiting Glendale, Je T'aime. I want to direct the segment that takes place in the mall.