It was only minutes into Paris Je t’aime (2007) when I realized that my mind had subconsciously set up a resolute framework in which I subsequently evaluated the rest of the film, and more of less the question proved to be something along the lines of: “when given a few minutes can a world-famous director distinguish her/himself from a talented film student?” Perhaps it was because I found the film’s first segment to be nearly unwatchable (I echo Michael Sicinski’s ‘s statement that “I never, ever want to watch a feature film by Bruno Podalydes”), but thankfully the film gamely recovers from the opening low point. I was in a generous mood the day I watched it, and found most of the contributions ranking somewhere between good to very good, with the inevitable clunkers mercifully kept to a minimum. Many of the shorts do indeed display many of the themes, topics and general tone we associate with a given filmmaker—East/West clash from Gurinder Chadha, entrancing, slightly eccentric, patently-French humor from Sylvian Chomet, an overwhelming Asian influence on Christopher Doyle, etc, etc.—and “the successful ones” probably has more to do with individual tastes than anything else (do you prefer the social realism, or the whimsy?). For my part, I thought Gus Van Sant nails the restless, vaguely uneasy energy of a could-be homosexual encounter, while Oliver Assayas’s brooding, chic bleakness carries more resonance than I originally accredited to it, and there’s a kinetic thrill in Tom Tykwer’s fractured fairytale. And as somebody who had pretty much given up on Alexander Payne, the perfectly-modulated catharsis that cuts through the initial condescension took me completely by surprise, ending the film on an unexpected high note. My personal favorite segment was also the biggest surprise—I wasn’t expecting something so literate, funny and slyly sexy from Wes Craven (and Emily Mortimer is quickly becoming an actress I’d watch in anything). I suppose it’s inevitable that the mosaic approach never builds to a unified vision of any kind, though I think the film’s chief beauty arises from all the messy contradictions found in all the individual little epiphanies and moments and slices of subjective reality.