In 2006 a fussy, patchy little movie with a frou-frou concept caused enough of a stir finance-wise to convince its progenitor to make another one, this time set in New York. And indeed Emmanuel Benbihy is said to be planning to roll out his Paris Je T’aime concept to cover every major conurbation in the world. Soon enough he’s alleged to be doing Shanghai, Rio De Janeiro, Jerusalem and so on before eventually settling on less glamourous locales such as Newark. Or Gdansk.
The concept: a series of mawkish encounters suffused with the promise of romance against the backdrop of the eponymous city. After a couple of hours of these vacuous vignettes the viewer is so stuffed full of sickly sentimentality that he or she loses all higher brain function, goes on the internet, buys a ticket and shortly thereafter wanders around said city getting confused by pavements and staircases (hint: walk up or down, don’t stand blocking the entrance), and more generally clogging the city’s thoroughfares while boosting specialised parts of its economy. In other words they become what pedants tend to call ‘tourists’ and what I prefer to call ‘zombies’.
Essentially, Emmanuel Benbihy has made a career out of producing glossy adverts that star the likes of Ashton Kutcher, and you and I fall for it. Especially me, because I actually bought Paris, Je T’aime and enjoyed some of it. I’m particularly looking forward to Two’s Up In Margate – 18 short films about the joys of getting pissed up and having a shag in an alleyway in a provincial coastal town.
And some time around short film number 10 of brain-dead, drooling, shuffling, pallid humanoids emerging from Margate’s shadowy back streets it’ll occur to me that Brad Pitt’s pet project adaptation of the Max Brooks novel World War Z has missed a trick. Unless it hasn’t, in which case this twaddle has even less point.
The production is said to be troubled – moviespeak for “we started shooting without a script because that’s usually ok except this time it wasn’t because we forgot Michael Bay isn’t involved.” Well clearly the solution is right there in plain sight like a horde of the undead pouring down the Champs Elysees.
Brad Pitt is obviously too emotionally involved in the production when what the film needs is a safe pair of hands, a man who can organise a vast army of directors, actors, writers, cinematographers of varying levels of interest and inspiration. Brad Pitt, no, World War Z needs Emmanuel Benbihy. Or at least the Benbihy approach – Paris, Je Voudrais Brraaaaaaaaaaiiinnnnzzzzz.
Think about it – film as overview of the decade-long war against the undead, that spans the globe as a series of short films by different directors and crews, different actors playing the various roles, roughly according to the book. Obviously it would be necessary to ensure a consistency of zombie across each film. But other than that, go crazy. Personally I’d like to see Nolan’s IMAXed zombies, Tom Cruise getting bitten and then slowly turning, as captured by Paul Thomas Anderson. Christopher Walken as anything at all.
Especially Christopher Walken.
It might even be a nice idea to get directors and actors from each country in which the action takes place – Beat Takeshi Kitano channelling Zatoichi – there’s a bit in the book for which this would be appropriate. Or Alan Mak and Andrew Lau reuniting with Tony Leung and Anthony Wong. Or…You get the picture.
And who knows, maybe Benbihy would realise that there’s more to life than gooey travelogues starring Natalie Portman.