In Six in Paris, an omnibus film from 1965, a slew of Nouvelle Vague/adjacent greats pack a wallop in just quarter hour segments. Each vignette highlights a different Parisian locale and most take explore romantic entanglements. It is the OG version of Paris J’e taime. Kicking things off: Jean Douchet’s “Saint Germaine” opens with a long-winded narration, setting up the stakes with a tinge of anthropology-doc — we have here an American girl in Paris. An art student, she’s quickly educated in the fine deception of Frenchmen. It’s Rohmer-lite, if you will.
That master of the understated battle of the sexes abandons his post and signature themes in the fourth segment "Place d'etoile." Perhaps embracing this as an opportunity to branch out he steps out of his comfort zone, to approximate Chabrolian irony with a bit of Tati-like bumbling in what’s easily the weakest segment. Like the foggy rain the character runs through, this segment is dampened.
Chabrol one the other hand can’t be beat. “La Muette” is an excellent and acidulous addition to his very long (and inconsistent) oeuvre and crafty capper about a bickering married couple and the toll their marital animosity takes on their son. Chabrol appears as the bourgeosie father, slumping over an armchair and tells the story with economy, puncturing it with violence and sound jokes. Hitchcock would be proud.
Another unexpected destruction materializes in “Gare du Nord.” Unlike most of the filmmakers here, documentarian Jean Rouche records with a handheld camera, getting close and personal. Another domestic tiff between young marrieds plays like a cordial cocktail that presents the harsh and ironies of the world. It shows a woman hedged in two different men, two different visions of suffocation. Too much mystery and not enough. A cocktail that's stiffer than you'd imagine. .
Women also get the short shrift in Godard’s segment, a small cinematic Easter egg, based on a newspaper clipping in Breathless. It passes you with exemplary coldness. By contrast— Jean-Daniel Pollet’s farcical “Rue Saint Denis” is warming fare. A woman of the street and her Buster Keaton-eseque john find if not exactly comfort, then hospitable amusement one chilly evening. She is as stately and dignified as he is hangdogged, delay what was paid for, twirling spaghetti and reading the paper — unconventional kinship prioritized momentaritily over capitalistic transaction.