Three unique and memorable films traverse three worlds: Paris, Spain and Japan

By Katherine Johnson and Oliver Joszt

With the economy in its current slump and many worrying about paying bills, traveling seems almost impossible. Yet, this week the Student Entertainment Council provides a cheap way of seeing the world through three different films: Paris, Je T’aime, Pan’s Labyrinth and Lost in Translation.

Paris, Je T’aime
is composed of 20 mini love scenes on multiple topics and types of love that all revolve around the city. The topics vary from your typical love story of boy meets girl and falls in love, to a love story between a human and a vampire, to even the story of two mimes who meet and fall in love — and basically every imaginable story in between. There is a type of love in this film for everyone who has ever been in love or even hopes to be in love.

The cast of this movie is outstanding in its variety. If you are a French film enthusiast, there are actors such as Gerard Depardieu, who was in the movie The Man in the Iron Mask, as well as Gaspard Ulliel, who is best known in America for his portrayal of young Hannibal Lector in Hannibal Rising.

French stars aren’t the only ones featured in this film; there are also famous American actors such as Natalie Portman (Garden State) and Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings).

Not only is the cast A-list but the directors are as well. With directors such as Wes Craven (The Scream trilogy) and Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men and Fargo), how could the movie possibly be bad?

For years, Paris has been known as the city of love; it has been one of the cities that ooze romance in every movie that takes place there. Therefore, it was only fitting for a movie that tells stories of love to be made in the city of love, and Paris, Je T’aime is just that movie.

The movie may be rather difficult to understand for anyone who doesn’t get the fact that the stories weren’t supposed to fit together in the end, and that they weren’t all connected in any way other than the theme of love. Overall, though, the movie is inspiring; it gives a look into the life of Paris that is rarely seen, and it shows that true love can come in many forms.

While Paris, Je T’aime takes viewers through the beautiful streets of Paris, Pan’s Labyrinth introduces a darker and harsher world in war-torn Spain during the days immediately before and after D-Day.

The film provides a window into the mind of a young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who seeks escape from a life filled with terror and despair brought upon her by a cruel stepfather and a mother whose difficult pregnancy is killing her.

One day things change for Ofelia. She finds a magical, labyrinth-like realm, where she is introduced to a faun named Pan (Doug Jones). He informs her that she is a lost princess of this fairy realm and must accomplish three tasks in order to return to her rightful kingdom. This leads Ofelia to traverse between two worlds, the real one and the one she envisions through her vivid imagination.

Even though the faun brings a sense of beauty and wonder to the screen, viewers never fully grasp his intentions. He is not entirely good or evil because what the faun offers is not good or evil, but the choice between them. Ofelia needs to decide between these choices in order to reach a better life.

It’s not only Ofelia who is faced with consequential choices, but also the viewer. This is especially true in the final minutes of the film, where the viewer is asked to accept one of two realities. Director Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy) makes the viewer ask whether this harsh reality and fantasy world really co-exist with one another.

Del Toro shows this world in a complex and deeply innovative way. We are introduced to a variety of magical and enchanting creatures such as fauns, giant frogs, and other mythical creatures, yet, there is a cold and inhuman world created by Ofelia’s stepfather, the sadist Captain Vidal (Sergei Lopez), and his men.

Del Toro is amazing at shifting from fantasy to reality and back again with remarkable fluidity. He does this so closely and precisely that it makes you question if what is happening on the screen is real or not.

The cinematoraphy and the art direction are visually stunning. The creatures do not look like movie creations, but more like all-too-realistic nightmares, in particular, the Pale Man who has eyes in the palms of his hands.

Although Pan’s Labyrinth is a reminder of the terror within our own world and the beauty of our imagination, Lost in Translation shows us that people can still find hope and love, even in the strangest of places.

Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, an American superstar who comes to Japan to make commericials for whiskey, while Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, whose husband is on a photography assignment in Tokyo. Both are confused by Japan and walk around like lost souls until they meet each other at a bar. They begin to have conversations about their marriages, happiness and all the nuances of life.

What seems like the setting for a love story is really not. Lost in Translation is too smart and sensible to be made into a love story. Instead of sharing a bed they share their feelings and personal lives with one another.

This film wouldn’t be great without two wonderful performances. Murray’s performance in this film is amazing. He plays Bob as a man who is both happy and sad with his life. Murray makes the viewer see that he is sick of doing these commericials for money without ever saying it. Everything is said through his eyes, facial expressions and a sense of wit that seems to hide something.

Murray’s astounding acting abilities are complemented by the soft-spoken Johansson. Like Murray, Johansson says a lot while saying very little. She has a luminous, intelligent quality, drawing Bob and the viewers toward her with little apparent effort.

It’s true there are no grand or over-the-top scenes in the film, nor any emotional outbursts or a swelling musical score. But the subtle sweetness and the small character moments will linger long after you have finished it.

With all of these great film choices, be sure to take a moment and see one of them. You will experience some astonshing film moments that will take you around the world without ever having to leave your seat.

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