The Girl From Paris
Directed by Christian Carion
Opens March 21, at the Paris
While we munch on our freedom fries, let's pitch Christian Carion's debut feature in a manner befitting the House of Reps: Independent woman, tired of the brie-and-cheese-eating surrender monkeys in overclogged Paris, makes for the red-zone countryside to feed the cities and mind her own damn business. Unfortunately, imagining the Yankee jingoist spin on The Girl From Paris is more engaging than the movie itself. Stoic computer instructor Sandrine (Mathilde Seigner) decides to become a goat farmer. She purchases a spread from crusty old Adrien (Michel Serrault), who suffers the post-retirement bewilderment of the lonely misanthrope (last explored in About Schmidt), and through sheer proximity, they develop an affectionate rapport. Girl at times suggests a country mouse-city mouse spin on Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (which starred Serrault opposite Emmanuelle Béart), but the script offers neither a sustained narrative arc nor strong characterizations. And while Carion pulls no punches on the realities of farm lifea grisly lamb-birthing scene provides a corrective to City Slickers if you happen to need onethe slow-dancing interlude scored to Phil Collins is just as gruesome. Jessica Winter
March 19 through April 1, at the Pioneer
This 90-minute program, which assembles all five animated shorts and four of the five live-action shorts contending for statuettes next week, is designed to up your Oscar-pool odds, though you have to wonder if there's any point trying to second-guess a voting body poised to shoot its wad on Chicago. The shorter shorts predictably rely on twist gimmickry better suited to 30-second commercial spots, with Belgium's dumb cell phone joke Gridlock (Fait d'Hiver) the worst offender in the live-action category, edging out France's subway-solicitation prank I'll Wait for the Next One. Lumpy and attenuated at 30 minutes, Denmark's This Charming Man dubiously stages rom-com fluff against a backdrop of racist nationalism. Boxer drama Johnny Flynton is not in the program, but it'd have to be pretty darn high-minded (or have a Usual Suspects-size twist) to wrest Oscar from Australia's South Africa-set Inja, a pat anti-apartheid parable manipulative enough to enlist a dog and a child.
Of the animated shorts (a better bunch on the whole), only the three non-American ones were available for preview: Japan's Mt. Head is a pleasantly baked, singsongy tale of a miser who sprouts a cherry tree on his noggin; Poland's The Cathedral suggests a Yes album cover come to disconcerting life; Germany's Das Rad (Rocks) attempts to ponder the imponderable vastness of geologic time. All too trippy, probably, so flip a coin and choose between Sony Imageworks' The Chubbchubbs! and Pixar's Mike's New Car. Dennis Lim
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