Paris mon amour, "more than a place, an intellectual climate," six filmmakers give it a go. Jean Douchet molds Saint Germain-des-Prés in Eric Rohmer's style just to throw auteurists off their scent, as a local dolt posing as his wealthy bud negotiates with the American coed in his bed (Barbara Wilkin). Jean Rouch's Gare du Nord is informed by Hitchcock's Rope by way of a pair of virtuoso, handheld long-takes (sneakily sutured in a showman's mockery of cinéma-vérité) detailing Nadine Ballot's irritable morning, from the breakfast table with Barbet Schroeder to the bottom of the bridge with Gilles Quéant. An Amazonian prostitute (Micheline Dax) and her shrimpy john (Claude Melki) dwaddle for Jean-Daniel Pollet in Rue Saint-Denis, eating pasta and reading the newspaper until a blackout quashes the punchline. Rohmer's Place de l'Etoile offers a perfect expression of the time and place in fleet glimpses of pedestrians and monuments, then presents his tale: A clerk (Jean-Michel Rouzière) believes his umbrella is an accessory to murder following a scuffle with a boor, a second encounter in the subway dissipates the guilt, he walks into the streets a free man. Montparnasse-Levallois has Albert Maysles maneuvering the camera (plus Garnett's envelope gag from Cause for Alarm!), the brilliance is still distinctly Jean-Luc Godard's -- the sonata of welding and clanking, artist and artisan, the Canadian lass (Joanna Shimkus) who tries to juggle two louts and gets a kick in the ass. Claude Chabrol's La Muette is a lean, punchy piece of buffoonery built around "noise, the price we pay for modern civilization." Chabrol gives himself a bit of Lubitsch as the father, Stéphane Audran is the mother, their son (Gilles Chusseau) orders earplugs to block out their bickering idiocies. A ferocious anti-bourgeois sketch accelerates to a chilling capper, the Chabrolian child alone in the cold street.
--- Fernando F. Croce