I've enjoyed two newer DVD recently that I wanted to mention. One I liked very much, and the other I appreciated, but wasn't really my taste. Once is being talked about as one of the top 10 movies of 2007 on several lists, so I felt like I should at least be aware of it. Here's the description from Imdb.com: "A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story". I don't think they're quite right - most musicals (and I have a bit of experience with this) have songs that develop the story OR tell something interesting about the characters. The music in Once are just great songs (though I'll admit I couldn't always tell when they were just rehearsing a song again, or playing a new one). The story is really interesting - an Irish man who plays his songs on the street when he's not working for his dad, meets a Czech immigrant who helps him record some of the songs. They meet and in what's pretty realistic, don't fall in love in a week, but really start to care for each other. I found Once to be a lot like the HBO show, Flight of the Conchords, where music videos interrupt the story repeatedly, but for too long to maintain my interest. So, Once is beautiful, but not my style - 3 of 5 stars, but if it's your style, it's probably closer to 4 or 5.
The next movie I saw and LOVED is Paris, Je t'aime (Paris, I love you). It's a series of 5 minute stories over 2 hours, that are shot by different directors with different actors telling totally different stories. A few directors shoot more than one story, but the best part is that the overall feel of the film is cohesive and travels around Paris, so there are VERY few moments you don't want to see more of the short story. There are stories of strangers meeting, couples divorcing, couples solving problems, working people struggling, rich people partying and everyone finding some humanity (or becoming a vampire!). All kinds of actors are in it: Bob Hoskins, Fanny Ardent, Natalie Portman, Juliette Binoche, Willem Defoe (as a cowboy), Gena Rowlands, Elijah Wood, Maggie Gyllanhaal, and Emily Mortimer stick out in my memory. Some of the dialogue is in French and some is in English, depending on the actor and story they're telling, and it's mixed in such a way that you wouldn't necessarily remember it as a foreign film or English. What makes this movie different than just a series of short films is that each story feels more like part of a larger work, because not everything is explained and each ends with you wanting a little more, rather than being complete and just strung together. 4.5 of 5 stars, it's terrific.
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