As the economic downturn persists and exotic travel seems more and more unaffordable, your best chance for a getaway this summer may very well be this weekend at the New Beverly. Paired with its fellow omnibus film Tokyo!, Paris, je t'aime is built around a novel concept — get notable directors from around the world to make short films (each about six minutes long) set in the City of Light. Paris, je t'aime, which debuted at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival prior to its U.S. theatrical run the following year, comprises 18 shorts inspired by the French capital's different arrondissements. But just bear in mind that like visiting an unfamiliar city with a seasoned tour guide, your cinematic experience will be shaped by the individual filmmakers. The Paris of Paris, je t'aime is one of mimes, vampires, and clueless American tourists — each one dangerous and lovable in his or her own way. Because of its reputation as a place for lovers, many of the film's interludes deal with ardor, but sometimes not as you'd expect. (Writer-director Olivier Assayas has one of the most touching pieces with his tale of Maggie Gyllenhaal's lonely actress who strikes up an unlikely connection with Lionel Dray's drug dealer.) But those looking for a respite from the miseries of normal life should also be warned that Paris, je t'aime isn't all moonlit romance. Writer-directors Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas offer up a sober little parable about the immigrant experience told through the perspective of an impoverished nanny (Catalina Sandino Moreno) straddling two economic worlds. More lightheartedly, but no less poignantly, Election director Alexander Payne reminds us (thanks to a marvelous performance from Margo Martindale) that even if we escape to Paris, we can't extricate ourselves from unwanted baggage.

Fri., July 24; Sat., July 25, 2009

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