Paris, j'etaime, an intriguing little film in which 21 directors offer romantic cinematic snippets set in the city on the Seine, opens today at the Charles Theatre.
What a great idea for a film, giving people who love a city the chance to commit that passion to film. Which led me to wonder, why shouldn't Baltimore be afforded the same sort of treatment? A bunch of creative people love this city very, very much.
What if a dozen of the city's biggest boosters were offered the chance to direct 10-minute cinematic snapshots of Baltimore as they see it? The resulting film - let's call it, Bawlmer, j'etaime - might well look something like this:
1. "Endgame," from Peter Angelos, stars Fred Thompson as an implacable sports team owner dedicated to figuring out what the fans desire most, then doing the exact opposite. Riots break out when he trades the team's best player for a handful of magic beans.
2. "Misfits No More," from John Waters, is the story of a movie director who, having exhausted the city's supply of quirky characters, decides to make a movie about a normal person. His film, The Kid Who Bags Groceries at Giant, wins an Oscar and becomes a hit Broadway musical.
3. "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" from Sheila Dixon, is a poignant drama about a woman who realizes her lifelong dream of being elected mayor of her hometown, only to spend all her time trying to keep its citizens from killing each other.
4. "Rock 'n' Roll High Skule," from Martin O'Malley, stars Jack Black as a crazed guitar player and occasional politician who, on the same day, is elected governor and offered the job of lead singer in the New Ramones.
5. "The Patience of Jobs," from Keiffer Mitchell, is a slapstick farce about a hard-luck mayoral candidate who, mysteriously, finds himself fired from every job in the city. As the film opens, he's landed what surely seems like a safe position, media consultant for BGE, when energy regulation is reimposed by the state legislature and the company moves to Sheboygan, Wisc.
6. "Diner Guys 4Ever," from Barry Levinson, follows a bunch of determined squatters who move into the Double-T Diner and refuse to leave until the Colts are brought back to Baltimore.
7. "The Further Adventures of Old Grumpy," from William Donald Schaefer, stars Wilford Brimley as a much-loved politico who's shocked to discover that his picture has been included in the latest Webster's Dictionary, alongside the word "curmudgeon."
8. "Zoo Daze," from outgoing Maryland Zoo in Baltimore President Billie Grieb, is a wacky animated tale in which the zoo animals, tired of having no one come to see them, decide to do whatever it takes to draw a crowd. John Goodman gives voice to a hippopotamus who masters advanced calculus, while Jennifer Aniston is the voice of a giraffe who stands on her head and Laurence Fishburne is a leopard who performs Shakespeare. Still, no crowds gather.
9. "?," an exercise in existentialism from Steve Rouse, stars John Malkovich as the city's most popular deejay who, after being fired, spends the entire film on a blank stage, trying to figure out why.
10. "I Give Up," from writer-director David Simon, stars Andre Braugher as a civic-minded scribe who spends his days dramatizing the city's woes, only to suffer a nervous breakdown when he realizes there's more of them than there is of him.
11. "You Go, Girl," from Jada Pinkett Smith, is a romantic fantasy about a Baltimore girl who marries one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and ends up not only living happily ever after, but manages to do so while staying out of the tabloid spotlight.
12. "If We Don't Build It, They Will Pay," directed collectively by the members of the city school board, is a sci-fi thriller centering on a band of extra-terrestrial construction contractors who hypnotize their victims into paying for work that hasn't been done.