December 24, 2006

Movie Times

GF and her sis/cousin wanted to go see Perfume. Not sure exactly how a movie about killing pretty young girls and rendering them for scent appealed to them, but their HSBC credit card offered 2-for-1 tickets on weeknights so I was happy to fill the foursome. The murdering and the extractions were creepy but not particularly gruesome, thankfully. The rendering of pre-Revolutionary Parisian streets was gorgeously disgusting, a slam-dunk contrast with the pastoral Provençal scenes. It must've been a challenge to demonstrate the sense of smell via an audiovisual medium. I think they managed the best they could, but perhaps the novel is really the way to get into the character and story.

Went to see Paris, je t'aime later in the week as a more proper date-movie. It is composed of eighteen short vignettes on Love, each set in a different Parisian arrondissement. Each segment was directed by a different director, including many big names such as the Coen Brothers, Gus van Sant, and many other art-house and Euro names who I'm sure are all fine filmmakers but fall outside of my admittedly limited cultural scope. It is refreshing to have an arty film where if you don't like the quirky methods, in a few minutes you'll be transported to a much different take, skipping from earnest to tragic to romantic to gay to young to old to... mimes?

Paris is the backdrop in name and vision, but the directors tried hard to avoid the cliched scenery. The Coens' segment for the 1st takes place in the Tuileries Metro station rather than the gardens and the Louvre directly above. The 8th takes place at night in Gothic light, with no sight of the namesake Madeleine. In contrast, we see more of the environment in the double-digit districts. Shots of the gray buildings in the 16th to set the contrast between the humble home and the anonymously tony work destination of a nanny. More anonymous apartments and parking lots in the Place des Fêtes for the story of an African immigrant in a rough neighborhood. The dull apartments and storefronts of Parc de Choisy, the Chinatown of Paris, makes for a plain backdrop for the mix of surreal farce and yellow fever. The audience got a big kick out of the Chinese-speaking bits, although the whole hot-Chinese-supermodel hanging off the arm of a decrepit white guy hits a bit too close to the cliché for me. Wes Craven picked Pere Lachaise as his setting, of course. However, he went with a straightforward and rather cutesy romance rather than his usual cinematic approach. Being different is good, but being good is usually better.

Posted by mikewang on 01:57 PM